There are two schools of thought when it comes to the consumption of Easter eggs: those who scarf them all down within hours of receiving them, and those who virtuously space them out over days, weeks, even months.
Naturally, there are pros and cons of each approach.
There’s a certain joy in throwing self-control to the wind and inhaling handfuls of chocolate. Meanwhile, the hoarders among us seem to revel in whipping out their stowaway eggs weeks after Easter’s finished and slowly, mercilessly devouring them in front of us greedier folk.
One-upmanship aside, how do these chocolate-scoffing philosophies stack up in terms of health? Is it better to get the sugar high out of the way in one fell swoop or in small doses?
That really depends on how you look at it. “From a kilojoule perspective, you’re going to end up with the same number of kilojoules, so it doesn’t really matter,” says Melbourne-based dietitian Melanie McGrice.
“But if you’re having dark chocolate, from an antioxidant perspective it’s better to have a little bit each day.”
Food for thought there. Yet, accredited practising dietitian and nutritionist Sanchia Parker argues that it’s better to avoid smashing your choccie stash in one go because of the immediate effect this can have on the body — for instance, the spike in your blood’s glucose levels and the subsequent energy hit.
“As the glucose gets absorbed quickly our energy levels crash, making us tired and sluggish. What do we reach for when we are tired and sluggish?… Generally, we reach for unhealthier options to pep us back up again,” Parker explains. So, another Creme Egg, probably.
Going on a chocolate bender might also prevent you from consuming important nutrients, as it can leave you feeling too full (and, um, queasy) to even contemplate eating anything more nutritious.
Listen: The Easter long weekend is the perfect time to embrace “hygge”. (Post continues after audio.)
Then there’s the fact that stuffing your face with chocolate doesn’t necessarily mean you’re enjoying each bite.
“When we mindlessly eat, not only does it mean we end up eating more, but also it doesn’t benefit our relationship with food. It’s fine to eat sweet foods, but the key is to enjoy them mindfully and savour them, which helps build a more positive relationship with our food,” Parker says.
The benefit of spacing out your Easter binge is that you can really enjoy and savour the taste and enjoyment of your selected chocolate, and feel more satisfied by it. Parker says it’s also a good example of portion control and healthy planning skills, which are vital to long-term health.
“Looking forward to a treat during the day can help us stay on track with healthy eating plans, as we don’t feel deprived,” she adds.
Here are some delicious Sunday brunch ideas. Post continues after gallery:
If you still have the burning desire to scarf down that Rocklea Road egg in one sitting, Melanie McGrice recommends doing so, but not letting it drag on for weeks on end.
“What I usually say to people is that Easter eggs are for Easter day. Then, give [the rest] away or get rid of them, because the more we hold onto them the more Easter can go on forever,” she advises.
“If you’ve been given loads of eggs, share them around. If you can go and visit an elderly friend, someone who may be a bit malnourished, they can sometimes benefit from those extra kilojoules we don’t need.”
On the whole, however, going hard on the chocolate over the Easter long weekend isn’t going to be a total catastrophe for your health.
“If it’s just a lot of Easter eggs on one day, you’re not really going to do much damage; it’s more our ongoing habits have a bigger impact on our health. So don’t feel too guilty,” McGrice says.
Sanchia Parker agrees. “It may add extra kilojoules to that day, but if it’s balanced out the rest of the time there won’t be any long-term effects,” she says.
One thing is for sure, though — Easter isn’t an excuse to eschew regular meals in favour of chocolate and hot cross buns. “You want to make sure you’re still getting plenty of nutrients … one of the great things about Easter is the tradition of having fish on Friday, that’s a really healthy thing to do because we know a lot of Australian women don’t have enough fish in their diet,” McGrice says.
So there you have it. Use this information as you will, and Happy Easter.