Chocolate is one of my favourite things in the whole entire world. I eat it almost every day, but whereas my old self used to indulge in full bars and rich desserts, I now reach for a square of good, expensive dark chocolate. It curbs my cravings and it tastes oh so good!
The great thing about changing your habits is that your body begins to stop thinking of what you must do or should do and starts just doing. That cupcake you had at lunch because it was a colleague’s birthday? If it’s the first one you’ve had in a month, having kicked your bakery habit, you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Changing your habits isn’t about dieting or depriving yourself – it’s about making special treats special again, like they were when you were a little kid. With money in your wallet and a car that can get you to the convenience store any time you want, these treats become all too familiar and the feeling of guilt after indulging can become a daily occurance.
Trust me, I’ve been there. A thousand times. And even now, with my better-than-they-were habits, I still hear that little voice in the back of my head criticizing me for making what could be seen as the ‘wrong choice’. I heard somewhere that there are no ‘bad’ foods, just ones you should eat a lot of and ones you should only have occasionally. So with that in mind, don’t feel bad about eating an Easter egg. Just remember that the holidays aren’t just about indulging – they’re about spending time with family, enjoying a bit of a break from work if you have a few days off, and perhaps appreciating the nice spring weather.
Of course, I live in England, so the words ‘Easter’, ‘days off’ and ‘nice weather’ never appear in the same sentence. Ho hum.
To get through the holidays without the niggling little feeling of guilt, try to focus on something other than chocolate. I have a few ideas for you below.
1. Keep up with your workouts. If you are used to exercising with equipment or at the gym and will be away from it over Easter, then go for a walk with your family, run outside if you are used to running on a treadmill, or do push ups and bodyweight exercises in your room once people have gone to bed. If you’re not worried about people watching you, then bust out those squats in the living room and see who else joins in! Exercising will remind you what you are working towards and what your goals are.
2. Swap sweet gifts for thoughtful ones. If your family is into gift giving at Easter, consider buying something that isn’t food for your loved ones. A gift card? Some bath salts? A DVD? Or maybe you can give mom a break in the kitchen and offer to cook the Easter meal for everyone else. This will mean that there will be less edibles around in general. If you expect chocolate from others at Easter, thank them for the thought but suggest something else or tell them you’re on a dark chocolate kick and would really like some dark chocolate this year. Even a chocolate fiend like me can’t eat too much dark chocolate! You could also suggest donating some food to your local food bank so that those who are less fortunate at Easter can have a hearty meal as well.
3. Do something you love (more than chocolate). Personally, I’m going to spend a bit of time crocheting over the long weekend. I love crocheting, but I rarely find time to do it unless I’m working on a special project for someone’s birthday or Christmas. If you have a hobby you can do over the holidays that will keep your mind off the foil-wrapped eggs in the kitchen, why not spend some of your extra time indulging in something with no calorific value?
4. Eat! Skipping meals so that you can spend your daily calorie allotment on chocolate is not the way to go. Sure, you could do it, but you’d feel pretty crappy after 2000 calories worth of chocolate and candy and no real food in your stomach. Eating proper meals can keep your hunger at bay and stop you from mindlessly snacking all afternoon.
5. Indulge a little. Sometimes it’s easy to go overboard, especially with so many treats freely available, but you don’t have to deprive yourself completely. Holidays don’t happen that often, so if you want that hot cross bun, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t feel like you have to ‘work it off’ either, as this can lead to an unhealthy mindset towards dieting and exercise in general. A pound of fat is the equivalent of 3500 calories. You are not going to gain a pound by having a few chocolate eggs. If you are going to maintain your healthy lifestyle, you have to give yourself a bit of wiggle room. Without it, you’re setting yourself up for a fall that will make you feel a lot worse in the long run. So, with that in mind…
6. Don’t let a bad choice turn into several days of bad choices. Even though I said above that there are no ‘bad’ foods, you know whether something is going to help you towards your goals or hinder them. Letting a handful of sweets turn into three days worth of gorging yourself on anything and everything just because Easter only happens once a year is going to hurt your confidence and devalue your hard work even more than it will hurt your waistline.
7. Try something new. One of my favourite things to do is modifying recipes to suit my own personal dietary or lifestyle needs. Easter is a great opportunity to do this since you might have a bit of extra time on your hands, and you might even find a new family favourite while you’re playing about in the kitchen! Modify an existing recipe or check out some great online alternatives, like these Almond Flour Cinnamon Rolls (holy yum!) or these Copycat Peanut Butter Eggs. If you don’t feel like spending more time in the kitchen, try to find something else to do over the holiday that is different than what you do usually, even if it’s something small, like playing a board game.
8. Relax and enjoy yourself. Easter really isn’t just about the chocolate, so you shouldn’t spend all your time worrying about what you can and cannot eat or how much exercise you can fit into your time off. Chill out! Spend time with your family and friends. Have a chocolate egg and enjoy it, because next week you can recommit and give it your all because your break was well-deserved.
So, with that in mind, have a very happy Easter!