Anna D’Arcy, Accredited Practising Dietitian
I don’t know about you.. but at MNC we all love chocolate. And Easter is a time of enjoyment. Enjoyment of an extra-long weekend, time catching up with family and friends, cooler temperatures and lets admit it.. it is a time that we all tend to enjoy a bit more chocolate than usual!
Easter isn’t the only time to enjoy chocolate of course. Chocolate is something that can be enjoyed all year round. And why not. It has been specifically engineered to bring pleasure and enjoyment. It wasn’t a food that just appeared naturally in nature and just happens to also taste great. No, a lot of thought and effort has gone into making it the wonder it is today. Even how it melts and smells is factored in to the chocolate sitting on the shelf. Research has shown that the temperature chocolate starts to melt is an important factor. People prefer chocolate that ‘melts in your mouth’ and consider it to be a higher quality chocolate. Even the smell is important. Chocolate doesn’t smell when frozen so some ice cream manufacturers have added synthetic chocolate aromas to the glue seal of the packaging to make up for the lost smell and so we get the full chocolate experience.
So with all that effort going into the humble chocolate bar.. is it any wonder that we crave and enjoy it so much. So rather than feel guilty about giving in to chocolate, how about trying to find ways to live with chocolate in a more balanced way. Especially at this time when it seems to be just about everywhere!
Here are some pointers to help you enjoy chocolate in a more balanced way this Easter.
- Eat well at mealtimes – stay satisfied for longer: Protein and fibre in a meal will keep you fuller for longer and prevent you from snacking between meals. This is especially useful if you know there will be a lot of sweets on display between meals. If you are hungry, it is so much harder to say no. Consider an omelette with lightly seasoned vegetables or high fibre pancakes made on wholemeal or high protein flour for breakfast, include a palm-sized piece of lean meat for lunch and dinner. And remember to add in lots of vegetables to that Easter Sunday roast.
- A little goes a long way: Add a little chocolate to other foods to get the pleasure of chocolate without all the calories that a larger portion would provide. For example, try chocolate-dipped strawberries, melted chocolate drizzled over a fruit platter, or a few chocolate chips added to homemade pancakes topped with fruit.
- Go for the top shelf: Give yourself one expensive easter egg rather than many smaller ones. When you spend more money on a special piece of chocolate, you may be more likely to slow down and enjoy it (and maybe even share a little with friends and family). Also, hollow chocolate has less sugar than solid chocolate and makes you feel like you’re eating more.
- Include a little of what you like: Do you ever feel like something sweet after meals? Especially dinner? You are not alone. It may be simply a habit or comfort at the end of a long day. Or it could also be because the meal you just ate, wasn’t what you really felt like. It satisfied your biological hunger, but not your taste hunger. They can be very different things. So, thinking about what you really feel like eating when planning your meals can go a long way to leave you feeling completely satisfied after a meal.
Happy and Healthy Easter!