Sarah Remmer: The Non-Diet Dietitian


Indulging Mindfully This Easter

How to enjoy your treats without falling into the "See-food Trap"

Avoid getting caught in the see-food trap this Easter and remember to indulge mindfully.

Easter is one of my favorite holidays simply because it involves chocolate. I may or may not have a mild obsession with it. Ok, I absolutely, without a question do. If I go a day without chocolate, I've either been kidnapped and denied all foods, or there's been a recall on all chocolate in the city. These scenarios will likely never happen, so let's assume that I enjoy it every day, in a moderate but satisfying amount. 

Regardless if you're a chocoholic like me, you're likely going to have access to an unusual amount of chocolate this weekend and will be faced with temptations that you otherwise wouldn't have. Your kids will also likely have access to MUCH more sugar than usual. Although you want to let them enjoy it without TOO much restriction, you also want to limit the amount of chocolate (or other treats) that they have so that they don't miss out on other nutritious foods. Oh, and aren't on a sugar perma-high all weekend. 

Avoid getting caught in the "See-food Trap":
If we see a food that we like, we all of a sudden have to make the decision of whether or not to eat it. If we constantly see a food all day (let's say chocolate Easter eggs sitting on our counter), we have to make that decision hundreds of times throughout a day and even thousands of times over a long weekend. Dr.Brian Wansink (Author of the book Mindful Eating) calls this the "see-food trap."
I got "trapped" at Christmas time. 
One of my dear friends brought over a Bernard Callebaut dark chocolate log. She obviously knows me well! Because our freezer and fridge were full of food and Christmas treats, we left the chocolate log on our counter for a couple of days. Being a fairly mindful eater, I thought nothing of it, until my husband made a comment on the 2nd day that went something like this: 
"Hmmm, it looks like you've been enjoying that chocolate log heh?"
And that I was- a little too much! A little piece here and there turned out to be a lot more than I thought... I totally got caught in the "see-food trap"! 
Here's why this happened to me and MAY happen to you: 
When you see, smell or even THINK about a food (especially if it's a carbohydrate-based food that you really like- let's say chocolate), your pancreas may start to secrete a hormone called insulin, in anticipation of a sugar fix. Insulin decreases your blood sugar level, which makes you feel hungry. So even if you have not even touched the food and you weren't hungry to begin with, all of a sudden you are eating it. This could happen several times a day if you're not aware of it. 
Also, research shows that when there is more variety in your food or the packaging (let's say, several colors of Eater egg wrapping), you're more likely to eat more. 
How to avoid getting caught in the "see-food trap" this weekend. 

Don't pre-buy: Don't plan on purchasing chocolate Easter eggs or treats until the day before the big "hunt." If they are lingering around (even in the pantry), you're bound to taste-test them more than a few times. 

Do eat a healthy breakfast: Eat a balanced breakfast with your kids before the hunt starts, or RIGHT after it's done. You and your kids will, without a doubt, mindlessly devour copious amounts of chocolate if you are starved. 

Portion treats out: When each of you have enjoyed a few treats (and by that I mean 3-5 small chocolate eggs or the equivalent—enough to feel satisfied), divide the rest into 2-3 egg "mini treat bags" and stick them in the freezer or in a cupboard that is difficult to get to.

The point is not to "hide" the treats, but rather to get them out of eyesite so that you're not constantly thinking about them and mindlessly snacking on them (like I did so innocently at Christmas time). Portioning treats (or any food for that matter) out will naturally encourage you to be more mindful when you eat them. Only seeing 2-3 Easter eggs forces you to rethink whether or not you need more after you've finished. If there are 30 Easter eggs in front of you, you will most certainly lose track and overeat. 

Don't replace a meal or snack with Easter treats: You don't want to replace healthy nutrition with chocolate or candy. What will happen, is your blood sugar will spike and drop fairly rapidly and you'll be hungry again within minutes. This is when you'll dig into the Easter Basket again for another hit of sugar. You'll also be depriving your body of important nutrients. Instead, enjoy portioned out treats after you've eaten a balanced, healthy meal or snack. 

The Take Home Message:

Instead of restricting or depriving yourself of yummy treats this weekend, choose to indulge in the ones that you absolutely love (in my case, chocolate) in moderate and satisfying amounts. Portion them out and enjoy them once or twice a day after a healthy meal or snack. 

Happy Hunting!


Photo credit: Matthew Wyatt 


Get hopping with even more ways to help you with your Easter entertaining, get crafty with your kids, and celebrate chocolate.