Tips for a Mindful and Healthier Easter – View from a Doctor’s Desk – Dr Lisa Surman

Easter has traditionally been a time for family gatherings and abundant food, particularly high fat and high sugar offerings such as hot cross buns and Easter eggs. The abundance of food related advertisements encourage us to believe that Easter is about eating as much as possible, particularly chocolate.

Mindfulness is about being fully conscious in the moment without making judgement; and being aware of what you are eating. A start may be about being aware of portion sizes, deciding to eat a treat and indulging away from the distractions of screens, books or talking.

Look at the food and enjoy the texture, smell and taste, the muscles used to raise the food to your mouth, the texture and taste as you chew slowly. Don’t grab and eat, try to sit down and enjoy the seasonal treats. The studies show this to be a way of feeling more satisfied with the portion you have eaten, reducing the chance of over-eating and increasing enjoyment in a guilt-free way.

Plan some non-chocolate Easter treats such as an outing to the pool, the park or a bike ride.

Be aware of controlled portion sizes – try to avoid planning to “eat all you want” and avoid planning to “eat no chocolate”. Don’t skip nutritious meals for chocolate. Try fruit dipped in chocolate, chocolate drizzled popcorn or roast nuts, banana muffins with chocolate chips and hot chocolate drinks to make a little chocolate go a long way.

Dark chocolate can provide small health benefits as cocoa is rich in antioxidants. The darker the chocolate the higher the percentage cocoa and potential benefit. Unfortunately, large amounts of chocolate contain large amounts of fats, sugar and calories. Chocolate also contains small amounts of essential nutrients such as protein, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and copper.

Start Easter morning with a healthy and filling breakfast, swapping chocolate eggs for poached, boiled or scrambled eggs to provide low-fat protein to reduce craving;s and add in some vegetables such as tomatoes and mushrooms on wholegrain toast . LiveLighter, a programme developed in Western Australia to encourage healthier lifestyles is highlighting the benefits of eggs and features several recipes to try out and enjoy across the weekend.

Balance any extra intake with active fun and play. Some examples of walking equivalents are 6 mini Cadbury eggs (19g) requires an average woman to walk for 19 minutes and an average man 17 minutes. A Lindt gold bunny (100g) requires 112 minutes for a woman and 99 minutes for a man.

The LiveLighter website and recipes gives some examples of meal equivalents with their recipe guide for a 100g bunny the same number of kilojoules are contained in:

– a LiveLighter Steak sandwich with caramelised onions

– a healthy quick chicken pizza

– one serve of LiveLonger’s spaghetti Bolognaise

– 2 egg omelette with a slice of toast

– 2 cheese and salad sandwiches

Wishing you a happy – and healthy – Easter!

Dr Lisa Surman, CBD West Medical Centre, Perth, WA

Member of Best Practice Software’s Clinical Leadership Advisory Committee

“Often patients spend time talking about current medical and social issues, taking valuable time away from dealing with what they have really come in to discuss. One of our solutions is to direct them to news articles on our website written by a doctor in our Practice that outline current issues and offer strategies to manage the problem and links to relevant, reputable websites”.