Treat yo self: your guide to a guilt-free Easter

This week we caught up with PhD students and Accredited Practising Dietitians, Renae Earle and Naomi Fitzpatrick to get some tips for enjoying Easter – guilt-free.

Renae:

When I think of Easter, I think of hunting for chocolate eggs in the backyard, fresh fish on Good Friday and fun times with family and friends. Each year I relish the opportunity to take some time away from work to relax and unwind, however this was not always the case.

There was a time when I dreaded the chocolate-laden holiday and I would worry about how on earth I was going to get through it with my health in check. There was a constant battle between wanting to fully participate in Easter and the copious amount of readily available treats, and the guilt I felt afterwards.

If this sounds familiar and you too are someone who struggles with guilt at this time of year, below are some tips to help you get through.

Perspective

For most of us, Easter is a 4-day long weekend. Did you know that 4 days is just 1% of the year? Any dietitian will tell you that health is about doing the right thing most of the time so when you look at the big picture, Easter is merely a blip in your overall diet. This is important to keep in mind when you feel guilt creeping in. If 99% of your year does not involve eating chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner – you’re doing just fine.

Refresh your feed

If you follow influencers or fitness models on Instagram, I can almost guarantee you have seen infographics showing how many hundreds of burpees you need to do to work off a single Lindt bunny. This type of content is not helpful, is not always accurate and can demonise the foods we love.

You are not required to exercise to counteract your diet choices. This sort of practice can damage your relationship with food and can lead to more serious disordered eating behaviours. If you find this type of content is popping up on your feed regularly, it could be time to clean up your follow list. Unfollow accounts that foster guilt and regret and replace them with accounts that bring happiness – cute dogs and gardening accounts usually do the trick for me!

Maintain your routine

Most of us eat three meals per day plus snacks. If your snacks over the next few days are chocolate eggs, hot cross buns (or both), this does not mean you need to stray from your usual meal choices. Too often I see people skipping meals to ‘make up for’ their less healthy snacking but this often does more harm than good. By denying yourself a staple meal, you are not only missing out on the nourishment that meal provides, you’re also depriving yourself. When we deprive ourselves, we tend to binge-eat which typically leads to more guilt and shame.

I recommend consuming your standard three nutritious meals per day regardless of how much chocolate you ate. This will help prevent the deprivation-binge cycle and ensure you’re still getting nourishment for the day.

Removing the guilt around the holidays is not about restriction, self-control or calorie counting – it’s about re-framing your mindset and maintaining perspective. Happy Easter!


Naomi:

News flash! There’s no need to give up chocolate or hot cross buns to stay healthy this Easter. This is particularly good news for those us who are consoling ourselves with sweet treats whilst working from home or going stir-crazy in self-isolation.

 

So how about some positivity at this strange time? Let’s not beat ourselves up if we indulge in the occasional Easter treat – why? Because there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods – food is just food.

All foods are different and unique, just like you and me. All foods can fit into a healthy diet, although of course healthy eating will look different for each of us. For example an individual with coeliac disease will have a different version of healthy eating to, say, a mother who is breastfeeding.

It is more than okay to eat chocolate, hot cross buns or whatever else takes your fancy this Easter, or any other time for that matter, and here’s why:

  • Food is more than the nutrients (or lack of) it contains. It is also closely linked to emotions, life experiences and family. A family Easter egg hunt isn’t about whether chocolate is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s about the joyful time with family
  • Easter is just a few days! Healthy eating isn’t a single meal, snack or day. Think bigger – healthy eating is the balance of all the foods you are eating over weeks, months and years

I could talk about this forever but instead of focusing on this one time of Easter, maybe reflect on what your food intake is like over a normal week or month. Consider the following questions:

  • Are you eating a variety of foods that meet your body’s emotional and physical needs?
  • Do you trust your body’s signals such as hunger to guide your food intake?
  • Do you feel in control of your relationship with food?
  • Do you feel guilty or anxious at the thought of eating foods such as chocolate, takeaway, ice cream, etc.?

Remember, all foods can fit – even chocolate at Easter. Happy egg hunting!


If you are concerned about your relationship with food or you want to talk about how you can combat those feeling of guilt after indulging, you may benefit from talking with an Accredited Practising Dietitian like Renae and Naomi.

Find out more and book an appointment here.

Last updated:
7 August 2020