The good news is that you can have your cake and eat it too over the Easter period. We talk to exercise physiologist, diabetes educator and Fitbit Ambassador Drew Harrisberg about how we can beat the Easter binge.
How can we stay healthy over Easter while allowing ourselves to indulge just a little?
- Indulge in dark chocolate over milk chocolate, aiming for greater than 70% cacao.
- Eat organic where possible.
- Bake your own treats. Stick to things like cacao, nuts, nut meal, coconut flour, tapioca flour, maple syrup, dates, coconut oil and nut butters.
- Avoid refined sugar, preservatives and processed ingredients.
- Opt for healthy drinks as an alternative to sugary treats. Things like sugar-free chai lattes or herbal teas to replace a row of chocolate.
Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with sugar?
Some experts compare sugar addiction to a cocaine addiction with some research showing that sugar lights up the same reward centres in the brain as a hit of cocaine. Of course, this depends on the type of sugar they’re referring to here. White table sugar or sucrose is the most refined form of sugar and is contained in sugary treats like cakes, doughnuts and chocolate, while there are also natural fruit sugars (i.e. fructose and glucose) that taste delicious and are packed with fibre and micronutrients. Where you can, try limiting your total sugar intake. If you’re craving a treat trying to opt for natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, molasses, agave nectar and coconut nectar. I like to take a primal mindset when it comes to sugar. If you stumbled upon a beehive back in the Paleolithic era, it would be an incredible reward but it would be a rare occurrence. In other words, you can enjoy a sweet treat from time to time but not routinely.
If someone is on holiday over Easter, what kind of exercise can they fit in that doesn’t involve going to the gym or using equipment?
Your body is all you need to achieve a great workout anytime anywhere. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) or sprint training is a hard, fast and effective workout perfect for when you’re on holiday – and there’s no gym membership required. All you need to do for example is sprint-repeats upward on a hill, a flight of stairs, on a beach, or at the park. Try sprinting as fast as possible for 30 to 60 seconds, then rest for as long as you need until feeling recovered and able to give another all-out effort. Repeat 6 to 10 times. The entire HIIT workout can be over in as little as 7 to 20 minutes depending on your work/rest intervals.
Another option is bodyweight/callisthenics exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, dips, squats, lunges, and planks which can be done in a rotating circuit at your hotel or at the nearest park.
The aim is to perform a variety of full-body, compound exercises in circuit form to get the heart rate pumping and to deplete muscle glycogen stores. This primes your body to tolerate dietary sugars a lot more, meaning you can get away with eating those Easter treats.
After Easter, how can we get back on track?
The quickest way to get back on track after Easter is to focus on moving forward. Let go of the past and simply get back into your usual healthy routine. Starving yourself and overtraining is not going to do much for your mental or physical wellbeing so simply try to find some consistency and balance. It might take time, but once you’ve found that balance, eventually your body will undo any damage caused over the Easter break. Most importantly, leave the guilt behind. Focus on things that make you feel good whether it be going for a walk, cooking healthy homemade meals, preparing leftovers to take to work, spending time in nature or trying to get a daily dose of exercise.