Easter treats and weight management don't always complement each other. In fact, Australians will devour over $191 million dollars worth of chocolate over the Easter period.
But the Easter Bunny doesn't have to symbolise a dietary disaster if you can follow a few easy tips. Professor Manny Noakes, co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet books, shares her top tips on how to stay healthy over Easter.
Hot cross buns are usually made with white flour and refined sugars, making them less than ideal for weight control. But you don't have to eliminate treats such as hot cross buns from your diet. If you feel inclined to indulge, enjoy a hot cross bun without guilt.
The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet allows for a moderate daily serving of an indulgence food. Just make sure to go easy on the butter, and avoid buns infused with choc chips. You could also consider baking your own hot cross buns using wholemeal flour, and minimising any added sugars.
It's more than likely your Food Unit intake will be going up over the Easter holiday period, so try to get some runs on the board in terms of exercise. You've got the time, so use those days off over the long weekend to burn extra calories through a variety of different workouts.
Choose activities that use the major muscle groups in your body, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, paddling or swimming, and aim to go for a little longer than normal. Gym classes like Pump or spin also offer good variety, and rev up your metabolism in the process.
With many people abstaining from red meat on Good Friday, it's a good time to boost your fish and seafood intake. All seafood is rich in protein and healthy omega 3 fatty acids, especially cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that increased blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a healthier body mass index (a measurement of weight and height), a smaller waist, and a smaller hip size. Plate up your seafood with grilled vegetables or a garden salad. Avoid battered fish and hot chips, or topping your seafood with rich sauces loaded with cream or butter.
Eating chocolate at Easter is a tradition for many, and minimising the impact on your weight can be tricky. The key to doing this is to manage your portion sizes - try to eat small amounts and eat them slowly. Remember 4 square of milk chocolate count as 1 indulgence.
Your waistline will also thank you if you can limit any chocolate egg indulgences to just Easter Sunday.
If you have any family or social functions over the Easter weekend, be mindful of your alcohol intake. It's loaded with calories, stimulates your appetite, reduces your willpower, and can lead to fatty binges the next day when consumed to excess.
Set yourself a limit of 1-2 alcoholic drinks, and space them out by drinking a glass of water in between. Drinks with a lower alcohol content are better for you, so consider light beers or a wine spritzer (wine with soda water). In addition, be mindful of your portions of the nibbles that often accompany alcohol, such as potato crisps, cheese, crackers and creamy dips.
Set-backs and indulgences (like Easter chocolates) will almost always rear their head along the journey to weight loss and better health. It's how you bounce back that will ultimately determine your level of success.
Come Easter Monday, it's time to kick your healthy routine back into life. Throw out or gift any surplus eggs to family and friends to remove the temptation. Plan out some healthy meals for the week ahead, and schedule in some activity. If you are catching up with friends or family, take the focus away from food, and socialise around a trip to the beach or park.
Getting back on track as soon as possible will help to minimise the damage of any Easter indulgences, and generates a positive focus moving forward. Cut out your indulgences for the week ahead to balance things out.