Posted on 29 March 2018
Easter is approaching again, with all that chocolate-eating and lounging around over the bank holiday long weekend. Good food abounds with family roast dinners, hot cross buns for brunch, cheeky cocktails or a great glass of wine as the day progresses and, of course, a conveyor belt of amazing chocolate eggs and themed sweet treats.
So far, so delicious. But a long and indulgent Easter weekend can easily lead to an attack of food guilt and that can ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience. So how can you approach the holiday with the right frame of mind and really enjoy it?
Decide On Your Strategy
It's still possible to enjoy the treats of Easter without bingeing and completely losing control for three solid days. So, if you know that you fancy a chocolate egg, then treat yourself to the finest-quality egg that you can find, rather than hoovering up every piece of the sweet stuff that you can lay your hands on. If you know you'll be enjoying a drink, then focus on lower-calorie alternatives and limit yourself to a couple. Looking forward to a big roast dinner with the family? Load your plate up with vegetables and enjoy the protein. If hot cross buns and croissants are your downfall, allow yourself one, but eat a typical breakfast too, with protein and a couple of portions of fruit and vegetables. The trick lies in thinking ahead and making decisions beforehand so that you can be smart in your approach without denying yourself totally. Focus on nutrition so that your body feels nourished, and then enjoy some treats on top.
Easter weekend is a great time to get outdoors with family and friends, so be active and keep moving. Walk the dog, round up relatives for a bike ride or take the kids to the park. Enjoy an early-morning swim when it's quiet or do some strength work during a quiet half hour. Movement and physical activity really adds up and if you wear a fitness tracker, you can set yourself a target – or even better, set a competitive target with your loved ones so that you enjoy the benefits of outdoor exercise and movement over the long weekend. You could even take the opportunity to enjoy a hike, bike or run challenge, if you feel competitive and motivated, then you really will earn that Easter Sunday dinner with all the trimmings!
Enjoy Time Without Food
Culture, leisure and food are intertwined in our society, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy precious time with friends and family without resorting to food and drink. Put down your phones, wine glasses and snacks and get outdoors. Grab a camera and take some photos in nature. Grab a ball and go for a kick-about. Go to see a film together or visit a local attraction. Take a trip to a local forest, lake, coastline or area of natural beauty. Do something different that gives you quality time with people that matter and save the food for mealtimes when you are genuinely hungry. This will help to break that emotional connection that otherwise ties sugary food with precious time shared with loved ones.
Sleep and Relaxation
The bank holiday is a time to sleep and rest, as well as be active. Try to catch up on some quality rest and sleep and you'll find that your hunger hormones balance and you are far better equipped to make good decisions that support your broader lifestyle and wellness goals. Just think about how hard it is to eat well when you are tired or slightly 'worse for wear' after an evening of excess. Conversely, know how much easier it is to remain balanced and in control when you are rested, nourished and relaxed. The same applies to stress management. Family time can be wonderful, but also stressful at times. If you find yourself craving a bit of quiet time, pull on your trainers and go for a walk on your own, even if it's around the block; the timeout will revive and calm you.
Let's remember, public holidays are few and far between and they sum up the 80/20 rule well. As long as you are maintaining your wellness and fitness goals for most of the time, then you can afford to relax and enjoy some treats and off-schedule chill-out time for precious holidays. Don't beat yourself up about enjoying the finer things in life for this weekend – instead, just commit to getting back to your usual diet and fitness regime straight afterwards. Everyone needs a treat now and again, and in fact, some research has suggested that people who allow themselves scheduled goodies actually find it easier to stick to their lifestyle goals for the longer term. Have a happy Easter and enjoy the long weekend!
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