As you tuck into your crème eggs, dark chocolate bunnies and scrumptious hot cross buns this Easter long weekend, remember that decadent treats and weight management don’t always have to be mutually exclusive.
Bunny picture from Shutterstock
While many famous diets confine themselves to only a small handful of food groups, the reality is that a diverse, well-balanced food intake is the key to long-term health. Sure, egg eating contests and buns swimming in butter are a one way ticket to weight and cholesterol gain. But at the same time, there’s no need to lock yourself in a paleo cage for the weekend and throw away the key.
Professor Manny Noakes, Research Director of our Food and Nutrition Flagship and co-author of the Total Wellbeing Diet, has given us her Top 5 tips for staying healthy over the Easter period.
Go dark on chocolate
Not only are dark chocolate eggs (or bunnies, bilbies and possums) more flavoursome than regular chocolate, they’re also healthier. Dark chocolate contains less kilojoules and is a source of polyphenols, which are good for our health and wellbeing.
Expensive tastes are also preferable. Generally speaking, the higher the quality of chocolate, the better it is for you.
Enjoy hot cross buns in moderation
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 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.
Celebrate in small doses
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 will power, 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.
Say it with seafood
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.
If you are after more details, check out Manny's appearance on Studio 10 this week where she stopped by to discuss these tips and more.
And for more information about our Total Wellbeing Diet, visit www.totalwellbeingdiet.com