Somehow spring has crept up on us, although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was still winter with the cold weather and the fact that you’re probably still recovering from the festive season. With spring comes every chocolate enthusiast’s favourite event, Easter. It’s a time for supermarkets to overload their shelves with sticky hot cross buns, show-stoppingly large chocolate eggs, iconic gold Lindt bunnies and, everyone’s favourite, sugar-coated Mini Eggs. Yes, it’s official, Easter is here.
For many, the post-festive season sees us struggle to get our sleep, diet and training back on track, but trust us when we say it’s set to get easier. With a double bank holiday and the temptation of a duvet day featuring Mr Lindt, what are the secrets to maintaining balance through the Easter holiday and hitting refresh? Fresh Fitness Food’s team of expert nutritionists are here to help:
BACK TO BED
As a generation, we seem to have accepted that due to our hectic lifestyles, we don’t have the time to get a full night’s sleep each night, and so we simply learn to ‘make do’. We may feel like we’re doing alright, with the help of a trusty coffee and alarm clock, but in reality, with the overuse of phones, Netflix, high stress levels, and your snoring partner, there are a whole host of obstacles sat between you and a good night’s sleep.
Using the long weekend to catch up on sleep is a great way to optimise your health and wellbeing. Look at aiming for 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. We know this can be tricky but thankfully we’ve pulled together some top tips to guide you into a soothing slumber:
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugar in the evening
- Wind down and relax – run yourself a bath, read a book or try out a new meditation app
- Avoid using your phone or laptop right before going to bed. If you find it hard to be apart from your phone, switch it over to night mode to avoid the harsh light.
AVOID THE SUGAR RUSH
When bombarded with decadent sugary treats at each turn, it’s easy to get caught up in the Easter sugar rush. In fact, unbeknown to many there’s a whole industry devoted to finding something called “the bliss spot”, where food producers engineer a perfect ratio of sugar, fat and salt to have you craving and wanting more of those delicious eggs and chocolate bunnies!
We all know the drill, unless you’re willing to brave the 100% cacao type, chocolate equals sugar; that pesky ingredient that we know can be damaging for the body but makes our food taste great, has us constantly coming back for more.
Whilst enjoying a little of what you love is never a bad thing, going to town on sugar-filled chocolate (as we tend to do around Easter) causes your blood glucose levels to spike and plummet. This is also referred to as a ‘high glycaemic response’ (as opposed to a ‘low glycaemic response’ that you would expect to see when consuming a sweet potato, let’s say), and is responsible for that well-known ‘crash’ you experience after eating sugary food. In the short term this can affect both your energy and mood, leaving you feeling unmotivated and sluggish.
Here are some top tips for reducing sugar load and staying tip top on your time off:
- Switching to dark chocolate will provide you with significantly more health benefits than regular milk chocolate. As well as being lower in sugar, it’s cacao content is higher and therefore makes it a great source of antioxidants, polyphenols, and probiotics. But please note, this is not an excuse to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Everything in moderation: as with all things in life, moderation is key. The beneficial nutrients in cacao are also accompanied by a high-fat content, so don’t forget that dark chocolate should also be consumed in moderation. It’s all about having a little bit of what you love – be it white, milk or dark. After all, holidays are for enjoyment and sharing, so why not share the rest of that indulgent ‘chocolate egg filled with assorted chocolate truffles and hand painted with chocolate polka dots’ with friends and fam?
EAT WELL, FEEL WELL
Studies show stress on the body (think pollution, illness, lack of sleep, long days in the office) depletes the nutrient stores in the body. Vitamins and minerals are fundamental to the healthy processing of all bodily functions and are essential for optimal health. For many people, time-pressured lives can make maintaining a balanced diet tricky, and it’s often the first area of our wellness that is neglected.
The long weekend is a great opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen cooking something nourishing that your body deserves. One of our favourite recipes to boost the body is this tasty aubergine and sweet potato curry, packed with an abundance of spices to give your immune system a kick and keep you on track.
More information on Fresh Fitness Foods here.