Yes, it’s that time of year again when the shops are filled with luscious tempting chocolate confections in the shape of eggs, bunnies, chickens and little nests.
These creations are practically impossible to resist and you will be forgiven for closing your eyes and biting into that rich, smooth chocolate egg.
This brings me to the question of indulgence. Is it right to pigout on whole baskets of chocolate goodies for one weekend a year, or will this seriously undermine your resolve to eat a healthy diet and/or to lose weight?
You may be surprised to hear that the occasional indulgence in what we regard as "forbidden food" can actually keep you sane and help you stick to slimming diets. Impossible? No, if you consider that food has many symbolic meanings for us humans, then it is sometimes essential to break the rules.
Food as a symbol
Food has many symbolic meanings which have developed over the ages. If you consider how the Easter Festival and the food we eat at this time of year originated, then it is understandable that people feel the need to indulge by eating Easter eggs.
Easter and the Jewish Passover were of course first celebrated in Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. After months of cold, dark and gloomy weather and restricted food supplies our ancestors relished the happy time of Spring when new foods became available. Imagine how exciting it must have been to prepare a table with fresh food after months of abstinence. Eggs were used to symbolise the rebirth of Our Lord and of the new flourishing life after the cold of winter.
Originally only hen’s eggs were used and these were often coloured red or painted with fanciful designs. After chocolate was introduced to Europe from the New World, it became fashionable to also make chocolate eggs, bunnies, chickens and nests to celebrate this special time of year.
We live in a world where the seasons no longer play such an important role in our lives and as South Africans our Easter is not celebrated in Spring, but in autumn. This makes no difference to our traditions and deep-seated feelings. No matter where we are, we expect to eat chocolate Easter eggs over the Easter weekend.
By occasionally indulging in ‘forbidden foods’ and celebrating high days and holidays with luscious treats, most people will find it easier to get back to eating normally or sticking to their slimming diets. If you deny yourself all the time, you are going to throw in the towel because life appears to be all sacrifice and no fun.
A splurge, a good dinner eaten with friends, that delicious chocolate egg or dessert, can act as a safety valve to let you blow off steam, to relax and to let go for a short while, before you consciously start eating low-fat foods again.
Keeping a balance
The trick is of course to be aware of what you are doing and not to make this a habit. Don’t kid yourself that you can break your diet every week and still lose weight. Cheating regularly is a recipe for disaster, but allowing yourself to participate in important celebrations is a life-saver.
It all boils down to keeping a balance. You will achieve greater weight loss and be able to stick to your diet more readily if you occasionally eat a ‘forbidden food’ or indulge in an Easter egg or a piece of Christmas cake, but if you start to use this as an excuse to eat fatty, energy-rich foods all the time, you are cheating yourself. So enjoy those chocolate delights today and get back to your low-fat diet with a new will after the weekend. Always remember that being kind to yourself occasionally is a far cry from hoodwinking yourself all the time! - (Dr IV van Heerden, DietDoc)
Any questions? Ask DietDoc