25 March, 2021
Chocolate and a ‘healthier’ Easter
Easter is a really fun time of the year with delicious chocolate, fresh hot cross buns and an opportunity to spend quality time with the people we love. But whether you’re buying easter eggs for your kids or friends are gifting you boxes of favourites, all of sudden chocolate just seems to everywhere. Unfortunately, Easter isn’t always enjoyable for everyone. Many people can associate a lot of guilt with eating lots of chocolate over Easter and think that they’ve ruined all their good habits. Some people may even avoid attending social situations so that they don’t overindulge on these treats.
So how do we enjoy Easter, socialise and not feel the need to punish ourselves the next week?
Mindful eating is one technique that involves using your senses to taste, smell and enjoy your food. This is done by being present when you’re eating, so not devouring that box of Favourites while watching TV without realising, but slowly eating your food without distractions and savouring all the flavours. Often just by paying attention to our food we can eat less but feel more satisfied. You can also find guided mindful eating sessions on meditation apps such as Headspace and Smiling Mind!
Often when you’re going to social gatherings, you’re asked to bring a plate of food. This gives you an opportunity to take something you know you like and that is a ‘healthier’ option. It could be a salad, veggies and dips or even a fruit platter just for a few ideas. The Dietitians Australia website has page dedicated to smart eating which is full of recipes designed by dietitians! It’s important not to forget that any food you enjoy has a place on your plate and developing a healthy relationship with food and your body is the goal.
So what’s the deal with dark chocolate?
Everyone has heard and probably said something along the lines of ‘dark chocolate has antioxidants therefore it’s healthy’. But what are antioxidants, why do we think they are ‘healthy’ and how much is there in chocolate? Cocoa beans which are the source of that delicious chocolate flavour, contain a group of antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids, like other antioxidants, help protect our bodies from free radicals which can cause damage to our body’s cells. This can prevent our bodies from developing chronic diseases in the long run.
In 100g of chocolate (or one block dark Lindt chocolate) there is around 100mg of flavonoids. For a comparison 100g of blueberries, which are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, contains about 400mg of flavonoids. However, unlike blueberries, 100g of even dark chocolate is made with fat and sugar meaning that there are other compounds that effect our bodies health other than those lovely antioxidants. So although dark chocolate might have some added health benefits, choosing it over your favourite chocolate isn’t going to make a world of difference.
Overall, I truly do believe in balance when it comes to food and one meal or one weekend isn’t going ruin that. Happy Easter everyone!
About the Author
Ellie Anderson - Nutritionist & Dietitian
Ellie is a friendly and passionate dietitian and nutritionist. She's completed postgraduate training in both the FODMAP diet for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and disordered eating. She understands that athletes, those with IBS and others frequently turn to restrictive diets and this can lead to disordered eating.