Staying balanced over the Easter period requires mindfulness, preparation and a movement plan.
Exercise physiologist and diabetes educator Drew Harrisberg shares his top five tips for staying balanced over Easter.
Instead of inhaling a bunch of Easter eggs without any conscious thought or awareness of what you’re doing – try eating mindfully!
Firstly, ditch the screen. It’s hard to pay attention to the eating process if you’re distracted by social media or Netflix.
Focus on the flavours and textures and remember to chew, let it melt in your mouth and extract every single bit of flavour out of each mouthful. If you’ve never tried this before, you’ll be shocked at how much less you need to eat to feel completely satisfied.
For example, perhaps you’re used to scoffing down a few rows or even an entire block of chocolate to feel satisfied, but when you eat mindfully, you may find that you only need a few squares.
Prepare or Buy Healthy Treats
Not all of your Easter treats have to be refined, junk food. These days there are so many companies producing healthy alternatives to all of your favourite treats. For me, it means buying organic, sugar-free, dark chocolate and gluten and sugar-free hot cross buns.
If you really want to take control of your health, make your own treats! There are some excellent recipes on the net with one of my favourites being paleo hot cross buns. They’re free from all the nasties and 100% delicious.
In the same way that people snack between main meals, why not try doing short, sharp exercises between long periods of sitting or inactivity.
This might be as simple as 20 squats, 20 bench dips or a 10-minute walk around your neighbourhood. The point is to use movement as a way to mitigate the negative effects of being sedentary.
A post-meal walk is a great way to offset all the sitting and prime your body to metabolise your meal more optimally.
Walking also improves your post-prandial (post-meal) blood glucose response and insulin sensitivity, ultimately allowing you to tolerate the treats a little better. Even a 10 to 15-minute walk should do the trick!
Earn It or Burn It!
Just like the fuel tank of a car, the human body has a limited carbohydrate storing capacity. You wouldn’t fill up a car with petrol if the fuel tank is already full, would you? The excess fuel would spill over and cause unnecessary danger. You’d either fill up an empty tank before a long drive or you’d top it up after.
This applies to your dietary carbohydrate intake (in this case hot cross buns, chocolate, cakes, cookies etc.). Ensure to fuel your body with carbs before working out, or once you’ve depleted glycogen following your workout.
Excess carbs can spill over into the bloodstream and/or get converted to body fat unless you make space for them in the tank.
Whether it’s a quick run around the block, bodyweight exercises or throwing the footy around with the kids in the backyard, exercise is the human body’s way of ‘emptying the tank’ and mitigating some of the negative impacts of unhealthy eating.
Fit it into Your Energy Budget
Treat your daily energy intake like a budget. If you’re consistently overeating treats every day over Easter (i.e. going over your budget) you’ll end up paying the price.
However, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid them altogether.
Try making some simple food swaps in your diet, for example replacing your sandwich with a salad, or opting for a veggie omelette rather than toast in the morning.
By making some of these simple changes, you’re making room for the extra energy you’re consuming in the form of treats.