When you try to imagine what a ‘healthy Easter’ might look like, what do you envision?
This is what most people might imagine a dietitian’s advice would be over Easter: “Limit yourself to one small egg each day, or two if it’s dark chocolate. Stay away from hot cross buns and if you do end up indulging, restrict food the next day or go for a run to burn off those extra kilojoules.”
Healthy advice, right?
Well, not really. The above suggestions are all good examples of food restrictions that we put on ourselves and tend not to stick to (which makes us feel pretty awful about ourselves), or on the flip side, perhaps stick too rigidly to and lose a lot of the enjoyment in the Easter period/long weekend.
So how can we go into Easter with a truly holistically healthy mindset? One that honours not only our physical health, but also our mental and spiritual health? Here are some ideas to consider…
1. Treat Yourself
Have you ever heard anyone say “don’t think of an elephant?” and the first thing the brain naturally does is think of an elephant? Denying ourselves of foods that we really enjoy tends to make us focus on and desire them even more. So if you’re really craving some chocolate, why not indulge in it? There’s no time like Easter. Treat yourself to some good quality stuff. You deserve it! And if you’re finding it hard to guiltlessly indulge, read point #2…
2. Recognise Guilt
Guilt and shame are unhelpful feelings that don’t really serve us in the long-term. If we can identify guilt when it comes up in response to eating certain foods, we’re one step closer to overcoming it. Why should we feel guilty for eating foods we enjoy? That takes us to point #3…
3. Let Go of Morally Labelling Foods
How many times have you used or heard people use the word ‘bad’ to describe certain foods? This is entirely problematic. See, when we label foods as ‘bad’, ‘fattening’ or ‘junk’, by consuming these foods we then feel that we ourselves are ‘bad’, ‘fat’ or ‘junk’, and on comes the guilt. This kind of negative self-talk does little to serve our self-esteem levels. If you really think about it, no food, just like any other object, is inherently bad! We don’t write off certain types of furniture, places or days of the week as totally ‘bad’ in all situations. In fact, some of those ‘bad’ foods can be very helpful in certain instances (for example, a malnourished person who would benefit from eating more high-fat foods). So rather than using these moral labels on foods, it is helpful to instead see them as ’sometimes’, ’treat’ or ‘occasional’ foods. Yes, if we eat these sorts of foods all the time we won’t be so healthy. However, there are times and places for them, and Easter is a great example of this.
If you’re struggling with a negative food mindset right now, or you’re unsure of how these concepts might fit in with your health goals, make a time to see me at the clinic so that we can work together to improve your health in a holistic way, no forceful restrictions or guilt necessary.