Emerging from the Easter break with extra pounds is something none of us want. But smarter snacking means you can have some chocolate, and still fit into your jeans.

Yes chocolate is delectable. It is also packed with sugar and fat, which means it ranks up there with some of the highest calorie foods around.

It is a waistline saboteur because like most high-fat foods, except nuts, it has no dietary fiber. It slips down effortlessly, and you do not feel very full after eating it.

Easter does not have to be part of a depressing weight gain spiral. Take stock of some basic facts, think ahead, and get back on track if you lapse. You can keep your Easter healthy as well as happy.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Less Can be More
Keep chocolate as a treat, rather than having it before, or during Easter. Buy some high quality chocolate, which tends to be more expensive, and have a little of it. Really savor it, rather than overindulging on a large amount of a poorer quality product.

2. Do Not Try to Deny Yourself Treats Completely.
An all or nothing approach will not only take the pleasure out of the occasion, it can lead to unhealthy binge-eating. You may quickly eat large amounts of treats to try to minimize the time you feel guilty. Often people are too focused on what they are not having, and end up thinking about that all the time, rather than just having it in moderation as part of a nice celebration to be enjoyed.

3. Consider Dark Chocolate.
While there is a bit more cocoa and a bit less sugar in dark chocolate, the difference in calories between dark and milk chocolate is minimal. For some individuals dark chocolate tastes more bitter, which might make it more difficult to overeat. Dark chocolate also has more antioxidants than other forms of chocolate. That is still not an excuse for binging on chocolate; you can get antioxidants from fruit and vegetables, or even a cup of tea.

4. Think Carefully About Leftovers.
If you have been deluged with chocolate gifts beyond your expectations, some argue it is better to throw them away to remove the temptation to overeat. If you decide to keep it, think about storing it in hidden spot.

5. Focus on Non-Food Ways to Enjoy Easter.
Focus on other pleasures like having some time off work or catching up with friends instead of the chocolate you are not eating. Find your inner artist by hand painting eggshells with kids. Visit somewhere scenic. Listen to beautiful music.

6. Get Active.
Spring weather can offer the perfect opportunity to be active. Go cycling, hiking, or even catch up on some gardening or other vigorous household chores. Doing housework to music means you not only get a fun heart-pumping workout, but end up with a cleaner house to boot. What is not to like about this plan?

7. If You Overindulge Once, Do Not Let it Become a Pattern.
So you ate the whole packet of solid little eggs, had too much to eat over lunch, and had two helpings of the rich creamy dessert? Do not let that be an excuse to continue down that path. Savor the memory of the tastes you have enjoyed, try and do a bit of extra exercise, and concentrate on getting back on track with healthier habits.

Happy, Healthy Easter Everyone!

Carmen Keith, MD, IFMCP


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