Easter is an important time in our calendar. For some it marks a very significant religious hallmark, for others it may be time off work to spend time with friends and family. Regardless of what you do over the Easter break, chances are you are surrounded by chocolate eggs, hot cross buns, chocolate bunnies and even Easter bilbies.
Where did chocolate come from?
Chocolate has an interesting history. In the Mesoamerican civilisation, about seven centuries B.C, it was been documented that cocoa (the ingredient in chocolate that gives it the iconic chocolate colour, as well as the slight chocolatey taste) was used for medicinal purposes; anything from a fever to a diuretic. However, consumption of cocoa was far different than what we experience today; it was primarily served in the form of a bitter drink with wine and spices. In the late 17th Century the cocoa drink became extremely fashionable (and expensive), with the high European society enjoying drinking it. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that a Dutch chemist decided to add cocoa butter to reduce the bitterness and also consequently the cost, leading to what we now know as chocolate.
So what does this mean for our Easter indulgence?
We now know one of cocoa’s most important qualities is the antioxidant effects. Unfortunately, most of the antioxidant characteristics of cocoa are negated by the addition of saturated fat and sugar, to make the chocolate we are all used to. However, if you are indulging in some chocolate this Easter, it is not all bad. Try and go for the dark chocolate, as this chocolate has more of the cocoa, therefore increasing the antioxidant content.
Portion Size… a big consideration
Regardless of the cocoa content of your chosen indulgence this Easter, the most important aspect is to keep an eye on portion sizes – even those little eggs can add up quickly. If you are someone who does like to indulge in chocolate, try portioning out a small amount chocolate for the day- don’t place the giant bunny or bag of eggs on the desk or couch with you. This means putting a little bit into a bowl or bag and putting the rest of it away.
A great way to make this portion feel more indulgent is to eat it mindfully. This means to sit down and eat the chocolate without doing other things, paying full attention to the chocolate- the way it smells, the way it feels in your mouth and the way it tastes. Mindful eating is a great practice to reduce over eating and also improve the pleasure of eating foods such as chocolate.
But most importantly
Enjoy yourself… enjoy your time off with family and friends. Share delicious foods with your family and friends, and enjoy it. Constantly being anxious about foods intake can do more harm than goo in the long run. Have small portions of foods you enjoy, don’t eat till you are over full, think mindfully about food (are you really hungry, why are your craving chocolate… etc) and be active.
If you would like to know more about mindful eating or portion sizes,and what is right and will work for you, please contact us to making a booking with one of our dietitians.
This blog was written by Christie Bennett, Nutted Out Nutrition’s new dietitian.