Dr Nick Fuller's ten tips to help you have a happy - and healthy - Easter
Dr Nick Fuller
Leading Obesity Expert at the University of Sydney and founder of Interval Weight Loss.
Easter is a time of opportunity. A chance to take a short break, relax, catch up with family and friends, and enjoy lots of activities and home cooking.
But Easter's traditional food treats and slower pace mean it can also be a time when we undermine our healthy weight-loss plans and habits, overindulging in sugary and high-calorie foods and letting exercise lapse.
You don't have to let the Easter break impact your healthy eating and exercise habits. Follow these simple tips to get you through the sweetest weekend of the year while still enjoying some Easter treats.
1. Make your Easter travel healthier
The long weekend often means road trips and stops for fuel and food. To avoid filling up on fast food at your pit stops, plan ahead and pack healthy options for your journey.
Bring along packs of seeds and nuts and add pots of no-added-sugar yoghurt, fruit and boiled eggs to the esky. For longer trips, include pre-filled pita pockets. Your hip pocket will thank you too.
2. Save the Easter treats for Easter
It can be tempting to add hot cross buns and chocolate eggs to the shopping trolley in the weeks leading into Easter and even more tempting to eat them when you get home.
Make these Easter-only treats for maximum enjoyment and minimal diet damage. If you buy treats early for gifts, store them out of sight to avoid seeing them when you open the cupboard.
3. Fill up on the right kind of eggs
That's the ones laid by chickens, not the chocolate ones! Numerous studies have shown eating eggs at breakfast leaves you feeling fuller for longer.
Fuelling your body with a healthy breakfast through the long weekend will fill you up, help you stay on track with your diet and give you energy for outdoor activities.
4. Enjoy Easter meals at the table
Make every Easter meal an event. Sit at the table and eat mindfully, savouring every bite to enjoy your meal.
When you take time to really enjoy the food you're eating, it slows down the rate at which you eat, meaning you eat far less. Eating slowly also gives your brain enough time to recognise the signals from your stomach telling you that you're full.
5. Opt for quality Easter eggs, not quantity
Chocolate is good for you, but not all chocolate is created equal. The milk and white varieties go through greater processing, offering less nutrition. Opt for dark chocolate, which is also full of antioxidants. Its richer flavour makes you likely to consume less too.
Skip the oversize chocolate eggs and go for smaller ones or artisan chocolate so you savour the flavour and won't be tempted to consume too many calories.
6. Make smart Easter food swaps
Healthy eating doesn't mean missing out on your favourite Easter foods.
If you plan to eat fish on Good Friday, skip the battered kind and side of chips and opt instead for grilled fish and roasted vegetables. Replace the pre-dinner cheese board with homemade dips accompanied by raw vegetable sticks.
7. Make your own Easter treats
Cooking something from scratch is a great way to understand the ingredients in your meals, and it's often the best way to wean yourself off a certain food addiction.
Try making traditional treats with healthier ingredients. Wholegrain hot cross buns taste great, offer more nutrition and are more filling. Otherwise, just enjoy the treat for what it is but savour every mouthful.
8. Get outdoors
Research has proven that physical activity decreases the brain's response to high-calorie foods, so get moving to suppress your desire for these foods whenever you have an urge to reach for that Easter treat.
Sitting around will only make you want them more.
Easter is the perfect time to try something new. Whether discovering a new walking track or trying something completely different like abseiling, challenge yourself to take on an activity you wouldn't normally.
9. Re-coup your sleep debt
The long weekend is also the ideal time to catch up on much-needed sleep.
Sleep deprivation disturbs your appetite hormones, increasing your feelings of hunger which could see you reaching for more of those high-calorie treats.
10. Enjoy everything in moderation
Alcohol, holidays, and celebrations often go hand in hand, and it's easy to overindulge when we're feeling more relaxed. But it's important to remember the amount of alcohol you consume over the long weekend will impact your health and weight-loss plans.
If you're drinking alcohol, stick to 1-2 standard drinks each day. Choose options that contain less alcohol, like light beer and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Completely avoiding treats over Easter is unrealistic and depriving yourself leads to bingeing later. So enjoy, but plan ahead to keep your healthy eating and weight-loss plans on track.