Sunday, 30 March 2014

Why you CAN have your Easter bunny (& eat it too!)

It’s nearly upon us (actually, according to the supermarkets it’s been upon us for months already)… Easter! That’s right, Easter has become a whole chocolate season, where people eat more chocolate than (the already large) usual, sometimes accompanied by sugar comas, stomach aches and empty wallets.

Every year Australians eat approximately 5.5kg of chocolate each. If you’re curious, that’s equivalent to 27.5 x 200g blocks! And because the major constituents of chocolate are sugar and fat (55% and 30%, respectively) that also means we’re guzzling down 3kg of sugar and 1.7kg of fat along with it!

The purpose of me telling you this isn’t to scare you off chocolate for life, but rather to make you more aware of just how energy-dense chocolate is. I love chocolate just as much as the next person, and I wouldn’t expect any chocolate-lover to have to go cold turkey on this sweet treat. Just keep in mind it is a treat, and will affect our waists if we eat too much of it.

Fun fact: the oldest chocolate bar in Australia
(& the one often voted favourite) is the Cherry
Ripe, which was created in 1924.

Now, before you get too upset, chocolate does have some benefits. Nutritionally, dark chocolate is a source of antioxidants, which help to fight off free radicals in our bodies (reactive molecules that can cause diseases). Studies have also found links to a reduced heart disease risk and we all know the emotional pick-me-up effect chocolate can have due to boosting our brains release of ‘happy’ hormones.

BUT, considering how high in fat chocolate is, there are better ways (and much healthier foods) to get these benefits from. For even bigger doses of antioxidants try colourful fruit and veg, for heart healthy nutrients include oily fish, oats and nuts in your diet and for an emotional pick-me-up try chatting to a friend or going for walk.

There's nothing wrong with enjoying a bit of chocolate,
just don't eat the whole block in one sitting!

Tips to enjoy your chocolate this Easter

  • Wait until just before Easter to buy your chocolate gifts so they don’t tempt you in the cupboard
  • Buy individually wrapped chocolates rather than large blocks or bunnies
  • Store in an opaque (rather than clear) container in the back of the pantry so you’re not caught staring at them every time you go to the kitchen for a snack
  • Enjoy small portions & savour by eating slowly and mindfully
  • Sharing is caring- don’t hog all the chocolate, share it with family and friends!
  • Make sure Easter doesn’t extend into a month-long celebration!

As a guide, try to choose chocolate treats that are less than ~500kJ or less. I’ve included a list below of some of the better chocolate options!

  • 1 dark Lindt Lindor ball
  •  3 squares Cadbury Old Gold 70% Cocoa Block
  •  1 fun-sized Nestle Kit-Kat
  • 3 small Cadbury Dairy Milk Easter Eggs
  •  2 pieces Lindt Excellence Roasted Almond Block
  • 3 pieces Nestle Club Peppermint Cream Dark Chocolate Block
  • 2 mini Lindt Milk Chocolate Bunny
  • 1 fun-sized Cadbury Freddo Frog

To put it into perspective, here are some healthy snacks with roughly the same amount of kilojoules:

  • 1 large banana
  • 2C natural air-popped popcorn
  • 1 glass reduced fat milk with Milo
And the worst? Cadbury Creme Egg. One
egg has 718kJ! And who stops at one?

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