For me, Easter time is very egg-citing (sorry!!). Not only is it a nice 4 day weekend, but it marks the end of a LONG winter (here in the UK) and the beginning of Spring, which can't come soon enough!
But just like Christmas, it’s a time of year that is full of temptations – all that delicious chocolate, not to mention the Hot Cross Buns and a few glasses of something to wash it all down. And if you’re a chocoholic like me, it can be tough to not go a bit crazy!
It might just be a long weekend but it can really mess with your hormones and put your ongoing sugar cravings on super charge.
So here’s a quick guide on how to enjoy the chocolate and get right back on track afterwards.
Benefits of Chocolate
Got to start with the positives – chocolate can actually be good for you! Here are some of the many benefits;
- HEART health – there's a reason we ‘heart' chocolate – several studies have shown that it can lower blood pressure, dilate blood vessels and reduce cholesterol
- MOOD – it makes us happy (duh!) – it can reduce anxiety and increase endorphins, our feel good hormones.
- BRAIN – it has been shown to stimulate the formulation of new brain cells – helping with memory and concentration
- SKIN – the antioxidants can help protect against ageing and improve skin health
- STRESS – funny how we crave chocolate when we're stressed? That could be because it's been shown to reduce stress hormones.
- SEX DRIVE – the blood vessel dilation properties can help boost sexual function, libido and fertility!
- WEIGHT LOSS – really?? One study found an association between higher chocolate consumption and lower central fatness in adolescents. This could be due to its effects on insulin regulation.
Before you reach for the Maltesers and Dairy Milk, these benefits are ONLY proven for dark and raw chocolate due to their high cocoa content. Many of the studies used around 40g per day, which equates to just under half a bar of Green & Blacks (over 70%).
These days there are increasing numbers of dark Easter egg choices – Lindt dark, Montezuma, Hotel Chocolat, Booja Booja and Divine all do dark varieties.
If you can make some healthier chocolate choices this Easter, then you're going to be limiting the damage and maybe even upping your antioxidants to boot!
How to balance the Easter temptations
IF your chocolate selection is not quite as saintly…….that’s OK, here are some things you can do this Easter to stay balanced;
- Start with a nutritious smoothie – have a protein or green smoothie for breakfast (limited fruit, more veg!). This will help keep your blood sugar nice and stable from the off
- Drink plenty of water – hydration often keeps your hunger at bay
- Load up on vegetables – getting all your nutrients in will help to balance your hormones and keep your energy and metabolism up
- Choose quality over quantity – go for higher quality foods (eg darker chocolate) and savour them!
- Slow down and chew – the slower and more mindfully you eat, the less you end up eating.
- Keep up the exercise – just because you're off work or it's a bank holiday doesn't mean you can take a break from your activities – go for long walks, do some stretching and take breaks from sitting for long periods
- Reduce stress – use the time to do something you love, speak with friends, read a book, have a long bath, do some deep breathing and get out into nature. Make sure you are taking Magnesium if you have any stress or muscle aches.
- GET RID OF LEFTOVER CHOCOLATE – no reason to have temptation hanging around longer than it needs to!
Last of all, don't be too hard on yourself if you've eaten too much over the holiday period. Just follow these easy tips and guidelines and get back on track as soon as you can.
If you want to give your body and hormones a spring clean OR if you just feel it’s time to get yourself properly balanced again….check out our signature 30 Days to Happy Hormones programme or get in touch to find out more about our testing and 1-1 support.