Enjoying Easter Without the Guilt
We’ve all heard or said something like, “I’m being good today,” while turning down a piece of chocolate; or “We’re so bad,” while eating a whole pizza with a friend.
Easter is a time commonly associated with indulging in chocolate & hot cross buns & feeling guilty for doing so, or anxious about the effect on the waistline. But food is amoral (it doesn’t have a moral value). No food is morally good or bad. Eating or not eating something does not make you a good or bad person.
So hang on… as a nutritionist am I saying there aren’t “good” and “bad” foods? Well… yes, but let me sidetrack a moment to clarify. Foods don’t hold a moral value, so foods in that sense aren’t “good” or “bad”… BUT… what we eat does affect our health – in good & bad ways. Those foods which I might tend to call “good” are those that are full of nutrients, don’t cause inflammation & have an overall positive effect on our health. Those foods I might tend to call “bad” are those that are highly processed, lack nutrients, cause inflammation or imbalance in the body & have an overall negative effect on the body.
Now time for another BUT... our health is so much more than what we eat & those “bad” foods, eaten occasionally really aren’t going to make a difference*. In fact, I would go so far as to say that perhaps they do you good. Did I really just say that? YES! And here’s why: Our relationship with food is just as important as the food itself. Balance matters!
How we eat really matters. Being relaxed and unstressed while we enjoy what we eat & the people we eat with, is just as important as what we eat, and if we are overstressing about what we “shouldn’t” eat and feeling guilt, shame or fear about what we do eat, then we do a lot more damage than just eating that Easter egg. One day of eating way too much chocolate or sugar is going to make very little difference to your health, and sometimes there are more important things to focus on. Most cultures love to use food to celebrate things & that’s the time when I think it is really appropriate to be free-er with what we eat. Food was designed to nourish us, but also to be enjoyed. Now nourishing food is actually really enjoyable, but I think we all enjoy a treat (even one that is considered unhealthy), and that is good for us too simply because we enjoy it & the freedom to choose is good for us.
My approach is to include those treats in your life, but CHOOSE them. What I mean is, make it a purposed choice & then enjoy it freely & without shame. Just don’t make it a lifestyle. The flip side of this is – don’t eat it just because it’s Easter – if you aren’t really a fan of hot cross buns, then don’t eat them just because that’s what people eat during Easter. My thinking is that if I’m going to choose to eat something that isn’t really good for me, then I want it to be something I really enjoy.
(*Note: Obviously for some, there are foods that can never be indulged in (such as gluten for a celiac) and in these cases I’m not advocating even the occasional enjoyment of these foods. At times like Easter, this can be really disappointing when you can’t enjoy that hot cross bun, or milk chocolate (believe me, I know – well I'm not actually a fan of milk chocolate myself, but I sure miss the hot cross bun with butter slathered on top). Sadly though, they just must be avoided. I'll work on sharing some recipes over the next few days.)