Stop labelling food - and yourself - as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ - Nutrition

Allow yourself to enjoy the Easter celebrations while spending time with family and friends this weekend

Woman holding golden and red chocolate easter eggs in front of her eyes
Allow yourself to enjoy the Easter celebrations - including chocolate eggs (Gabriel Codarcea/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Looking forward to the bank holiday weekend? If you are taking a little break, but already feeling guilty about falling off your diet, stop right there.

Think about it - if a diet makes you feel guilty when you don’t follow the rules, has too many restrictions and is really hard to stick to, is it doing you any good?

The way that I look at it, nutrition is for life and that means finding a way of eating that helps you feel good, puts you in better form and keeps you healthy whether you are in your regular routine or taking a long-weekend break. Add a little flexibility to your diet and you are less likely to go wayward than if you have a strict and rigid plan to follow.

All too often I talk to people who tell me that they have ‘gone off track’, or that they had a birthday, holiday or celebration that meant their diet has gone to the wayside. Often this little blip lasts for days, or even weeks.

What if there was another way of looking at things?

Many of us have lost the connection to the food on our plate. We don’t stop to consider how that food is produced, what ingredients it contains, or how it makes us feel. When we are a little more mindful about these things, we are more inclined to choose food that makes us feel good, and often this is the food that is good for our health, and sometimes it is food that just makes us feel good in that moment, and that’s OK too.

Yes, we eat differently on high days and holidays, but it is just one meal, one day or one celebration. It doesn’t have to set us off on a rollercoaster of junk food and sugar cravings.

Add a little flexibility to your diet and you are less likely to go wayward than if you have a strict and rigid plan to follow

So allow yourself to enjoy the Easter celebrations and spend time with family and friends this weekend, but see how it feels to change your attitude to the Easter fare. Allow yourself to enjoy the different types of food you might be eating without labelling them (or yourself) as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

It is a different way of thinking about food, but when you get it, it can transform how you think about food, nutrition and dieting. Here are some simple ideas to help you keep a healthy balance:

  • If you know that the Easter celebrations are likely to trigger a sugar binge, and then leave you feeling guilty, plan ahead. Allow yourself to have a little chocolate, dessert, or whatever it is that you want, at a time that you have planned. That way, you are less likely to mindlessly binge eat.
  • Eat more mindfully. Enjoy your little treat by connecting into your senses.
  • How does it look?
  • How does it smell?
  • How does it sounds as you munch, crunch, slurp or nibble it?
  • How does it feel in your mouth?
  • How does it taste?
  • Don’t skip meals, even on holiday. It is often when we get hungry that we overeat the type of food that can trigger more cravings. If we go too long between meals, our blood glucose levels drop and that can make us crave sugary and processed foods. It can also trigger a release of adrenaline, making us feel more stressed, or irritable, and in need of some good mood food – chocolate, sweets or biscuits, and back on the sugar rollercoaster again. Eat at regular times to help keep this in check.
  • If you find yourself craving something sweet between meals, try adding a little extra protein and fibre to your meals. Both these nutrients will help you to feel fuller for longer and keep your appetite more sustained. Protein from eggs, meat, fish, nuts and seeds, natural yoghurt, tofu, houmous, pulses and quinoa. Fibre from wholegrains, nuts, seeds, pulses, fruit and vegetables.