When you think of celebrating Easter, what is the first treat that comes to mind?
By Daniela Rebelo S. Morgado, RD, CDE
If you thought about chocolate, you’re not alone! Easter is one of the sweetest times of the year. Chocolate eggs are a tradition, symbolizing rebirth and life. The challenge is to maintain a healthy diet in the face of so many temptations. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy Easter without sacrificing your health:
- Eat at regular times – every 4-6 hours – and avoid snacking during the day. This will keep your hunger under control and also help to decrease binge eating at the next meal.
- Increase fish consumption. It is a Holy Week tradition to avoid eating red meat. This habit can be even more beneficial to your health and your heart if you choose fish like salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and herring which are high in Omega 3. This nutrient helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL), promoting cardiovascular health. Avoid consumption of salty fish because the excessive salt intake is associated with increased blood pressure.
- During the Easter meal, put together a colourful plate, including different vegetables. Vegetables contain dietary fibers that help increase the sensation of fullness, without adding extra calories. The ideal ratio is 50% of your plate to be filled with vegetables, 25% with a protein source such as fish, turkey, or lean meats and the rest with a carbohydrate source food such as whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams or corn.
- If you are thirsty, drink water! Soft drinks and juices increase sugar intake, which contributes to weight gain. One suggestion to add flavour to your drink without increasing the sugar content is to put slices of lemon, orange or cucumber in the water. Also, remember to limit alcoholic beverages.
- Get moving! Enjoy the holiday by taking a walk or going for a bike ride, for example.
After all these suggestions, do you still have room for some delicious chocolate? Sure, you do! The key word is moderation. Instead of eating a box of chocolates, separate some and savour them slowly. One tip is to leave the chocolate in the freezer for a few hours. Remove it from the freezer and place small pieces in your mouth and let them slowly melt. This practice helps decrease the amount ingested and, consequently, the calories. Choose chocolates with a high cocoa content as it contains antioxidants that help maintain cardiovascular health.
Happy Easter everyone!
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