I know not everyone celebrates Easter, but those who do will find this extremely helpful. As for those who don’t, I guarantee you can apply this to other events in your life.
For most, Easter is traditionally a really tough time to stick to a healthy diet, especially if you have kids or if there are get-togethers with friends and family. This is because being tempted with delicious chocolate eggs and other unhealthy food is almost unavoidable..
I’m extremely fortunate in that if it’s not bitter dark chocolate I don’t like it, but I have many friends and family members that absolutely dread occasions such as Easter when there is chocolaty junk food everywhere they look.
The shops are overflowing with Easter eggs, co-workers love to leave them as presents around the office, kids get them as gifts from school… What are you to do?
When someone asks me “Eric, how do I make it through Easter weekend without giving into sugary cravings and breaking my diet?” – I tell them “You don’t.”
Whaaaat?! Yeah… As in, you don’t make it through the entire weekend without enjoying a little bit. For most, attempting to completely avoid temptation is just incredibly difficult, stressful, and possibly even anti-social. I’m all for optimal nutrition and eating healthily, but I do also think that we need to be reasonable and perhaps make a few exceptions for things that only happen once a year.
But this doesn’t mean you are off the hook!
My point isn’t that you get a free pass to indulge when you want to. No, it’s actually a lesson about self control and realizing that health is a spectrum where something is better than nothing.
You know what’s worse than blowing up on your diet for one or two days over Easter? Throwing in the towel and saying “Stuff it” right now, using this as an excuse to eat crap all week long and then continue to polish off any remaining sweeties in the week that follows.
I want you to get out of the mindset that if you can’t do it perfectly then what’s the point? Remember, doing something good for your health – even if it’s not perfect – is still better than nothing.
“Perfectionism” is often downplayed as if it’s out of your control.
Well it’s not, and I challenge you to make this year different.
Here are some tips to help you minimize the damage of Easter and implement a bit of self-control:
- Take a reasonable approach.
Stick to your nutrition/exercising goals, and continue as per normal for the week leading up to Easter (or whatever other similar event). Don’t give up now simply because you know you might “fall off the wagon” later in the week.
- Furthermore, don’t go to the other extreme either.
Don’t deprive or starve yourself right now to try and compensate for what you think is an inevitable binge. That is what causes the binge in the first place. Just. Eat. Normally.
- Enjoy your Easter celebrations.
If that means eating a bit of something less healthy and off your diet plan then so be it. BUT stay in control! Don’t binge, don’t ‘reward’ yourself for good eating, and don’t try to block reality out and pretend it didn’t happen – just accept that what you are eating is not optimal and then consume it in moderation. Want to have a chocolate Easter egg? Ok have one. One, not ten.
- Eat high-protein meals with plenty of vegetables.
This will help keep yourself fuller for longer and decrease cravings. You only set yourself up for failure by skipping breakfast and then trying to ignore the temptation of chocolate the entire day. Have a solid, filling, healthy meal to start the day and then make sure you have other healthy food readily available throughout the day so that any junk you do consume is simply to “taste and enjoy” rather than to actually serve as a meal.
- Keep yourself well hydrated with lots of water.
Also, remember that alcohol will definitely impair your judgement and most likely lead to overconsumption of the food that you are trying so hard to avoid. If you are going to drink alcohol then do it in moderation with plenty of water in between.
- If you can, eat darker chocolate that is lower in sugar, bitter, and more satiating.
Something with no creamy/spongy filling or sugary icing, this is where a lot of the really unhealthy stuff is found and an enormous amount of sugar.
- Rinse your mouth out and/or brush your teeth after you have eaten chocolate.
Besides protecting your teeth from the sugar, it will also help reduce further cravings for more chocolate. We usually brush our teeth after a meal, and, as a result most of us have built up a life-long subconscious association with brushing our teeth and no more eating. Let this habit go to work for you.
- Get some exercise in if you can.
Although quite obvious, many people write this off. Whether it’s just a nice walk or an intense gym workout. Let all the extra energy fuel your workout, help you burn some extra calories, and make you feel better and more productive.
- Be healthy in every other way.
The more other healthy habits that you perform during your period of unhealthy eating, the less likely you are to abandon everything and take a running jump “off the wagon”. Eat well whenever you can, exercise, get enough sleep, brush your teeth, drink lots of water, do some breathing exercises, de-stress, stretch, and so on. Prove to yourself that you do still have control and that in general you are still moving in the right, healthy direction.
So just to recap: Do your best, something is still better than nothing. If you are a lucky someone like me who isn’t bothered at all by temptation then keep on keeping on. However if you are dreading Easter and have a history of coming out the otherside much worse off than when it started then I challenge you to make your best effort to minimize the damage and do the best you can.