Christmas seems to get a lot of spotlight when it comes time to holiday eating. However, Christmas isn’t the only holiday that involves copious amounts of food and chocolate.
This weekend marks the Easter long weekend, which for many will involve larger holiday meals with turkey or ham, potatoes and all the trimmings … and lots of sweets including chocolate Easter bunnies, eggs and other traditional delicacies.
Consumer Reports released last week that Americans are expected to spend a total of $2.6 billion on Easter candy this year, which is more than what was spent on Halloween candy in 2016 ($2.5 billion) and Valentine's Day in 2017 ($1.7 billion).
Wowzers! That's a lot of candy!
I often get asked how I keep my weight in check over these treat-filled holidays. Truth is, I have no fancy tricks up my sleeve. What I do have are some sensible strategies that I apply to my eating throughout the year, which allow me to fully savour my conscious indulgences without guilt.
P.S. Food-guilt has no place at the holiday table or at any table for that matter. But that's another blog post for another time :)
5 sensible strategies to enjoy a splurge-worthy Easter
1) Make your splurges truly "splurge-worthy".
My husband often states that I have champagne tastes on a beer budget. I suppose this is true. I certainly cut corners in many areas to keep the budget in check, but one area that I do not compromise my “champagne taste” is with special holiday treats. If I am going to make a decadent dessert, I am going to buy the really good quality ingredients that make it so darn delicious, including full fat whipping cream (sorry Cool Whip!) or maple syrup fresh from the farm (sorry Aunt Jemima!)
The same goes with eating chocolate. I will not waste my time or calories on the cheap no-name chocolate that tastes stale and gross. I will spend the few extra dollars to buy one bar of my favourite Green and Black's or Lindt 75% dark chocolate.
And I will savour. each. bite.
This same principle carries through to what I give my kids in their Easter baskets. Each year they get a book or clothing in addition to a small chocolate treat. This usually ends up being half a bar of dark chocolate, broken into smaller pieces, which they enjoy over the next few weeks, whenever it is offered to them. I try to make sure that the kids enjoy their chocolate at the table with us so that they too can develop good habits of mindfully eating and savouring each bite.
2) Don’t worry about offending the host.
I am a people-pleaser and I used to worry a lot about what others would think or say if I passed on a food that was offered to me or said no to a second helping. I think much of this stemmed from the holiday dinners at my beloved grandmother’s house who loved to feed people until they were stuffed to the brim!
This is an area that I have had to work on over the years but it has served me well. I read my body’s own internal cues vs. the external cues from the social environment. When I do so, I feel fantastic, having enjoyed a delicious and satisfying meal. So far, no one has kicked me off their invite list so it is obviously not a big deal to them either.
3) Try to eat slowly.
Have you ever tried putting your fork down between bites at the table? Or fully chewing and swallowing each mouthful before you take the next? If not, try it! You will be surprised at how difficult it is. (At least it is for me, says the lady who can easily scarf down her lunch in 5 minutes if she's not careful)!
This is an easy way to slow down the pace at the table and encourages you to more fully enjoy the meal and allows your body time to sense whether it is full so that you aren’t going for round two unnecessarily.
4) Don’t rely on willpower
Relying on willpower is like relying on your four-year-old to keep a perfectly tidy room. It may be clean occasionally, but chances are you can’t rely on it being clean all the time!
Same goes for willpower – you cannot solely rely on it for perfect results, nor should you have to. It is a finite resource. Like a muscle, it can only endure so much load before it is exhausted.
So what do you do?
Set yourself up for success by eating a healthy breakfast in the morning and a protein-rich snack before the meal to ensure that you are not ravenous at dinnertime. Don't self-impose dietary restrictions that will require you to flex your willpower muscle. Instead, plan to enjoy and savour the treats that are most meaningful to you and do so without guilt or shame.
5) Maintain your workout routine.
Saturday mornings my husband blesses me by taking the kids so that I can get to the gym for a workout or go for a run outside. This does not change over the holidays. I am careful to keep this in my schedule and protect it so that other events don’t take precedence. I am a much happier person when I get back from my workout, which allows me (and everyone else!) to more fully enjoy the following family time together.
The nuts and bolts,
- Eat what you love and love what you eat.
- Trust your body's own internal cues to let you know when you are full.
- Slow down and enjoy each mouthful.
- Come to Easter dinner with a moderate, not ravenous, hunger.
- Keep your mind and body in balance by maintaining your normal workout routine.
What do you find helpful to keep things in check over the holidays? Comment below. I would love to hear from you!
Take it one bite at a time,
Consumerreports.org. April 7, 2017. What 100 Calories of Easter Candy Looks Like. http://www.consumerreports.org/candy/what-100-calories-of-easter-candy-looks-like/