Dietitian Approved Indulgent Easter Treat

Dietitian Linia Patel, explains the benefits of dark chocolate and shares her 3 top tips for a healthy Easter with this short survival guide.

Just when you thought that you had your nutrition game sorted and in some sort of routine, along comes the chocolate fest of Easter. The risk of indulging a little too much and gaining a few pounds is always a possibility, especially if you’re less active during the long weeken. Fear not! Help is at hand – and were going to turn things on its head and say you can have your chocolate egg.

Healthy chocolate? #

Chocolate gives many of us pleasure mainly because it has physiological effects that make it moreish – if not downright addictive. Interestingly, some research shows that actually certain types of chocolate are particularly good for us. After all, one of the ingredients of chocolate is cocoa which is a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc and plant-based compounds called flavonoids. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that have multiple health benefits including boosting immunity, helping control our blood sugar levels and keeping heart disease at bay.

However, of course chocolate comes with other ingredients such as sugar and saturated fat which are two nutrients we need to make sure we limit our intake of. This in turn means that when it comes down to chocolate the healthy kind is the dark variety. 

Dark chocolate ( > 70% cocoa solids) has many nutritional benefits. As previously mentioned not only does it have important minerals like magnesium and antioxidants, however recent studies show that the stearic acid in dark chocolate can help slow digestion which increases the feeling of fullness. The bitterness is also thought to help diminish cravings for sweet things. In fact, one study showed that the simple act of smelling dark chocolate may help curb the sugar cravings! More research is needed to examine the full effects of dark chocolate of feelings of fullness and sugar cravings however for now we know that dark chocolate ( > 70% cocoa solids) is something to add to your shopping list. 

Here is your Easter Survival guide. #

  1. Start the day a special Easter eggy brekkie. Poached or scrambled egg on wholegrain toast will keep you fuller for longer and make you less tempted to graze on chocolate all day. 
  2. Remember size does matter! Large Easter eggs (100g) contain over 500 calories which is almost a third of your daily intake if you are trying to lose weight. At the end of the day if milk chocolate is your thing, then you can have it just be mindful of portion size. Go for small individually wrapped eggs instead of one large one. The act of unwrapping each egg will help you to eat less in one sitting.
  3. Choose quality over quantity. Dark chocolate eggs are lower in sugar and therefore calories than milk chocolate eggs and have other nutritional benefits too. Dark chocolate is actually something you can include in healthy and balanced diet every day ( 2030g/​day). So if you get a large egg, break it up and make your Easter last the whole week.

References – available on request.