Easter is just around the corner and, just as in any other holiday, it is common to eat more than we are used to. We break our daily routine plus, these celebrations are, generally, accompanied by traditional sweets and desserts. And, of course, Easter comes with chocolate Easter eggs and hot cross buns. In the Spanish tradition we have delicious treats such as torrijas, buñuelos de viento, panquemados, monas de Pascua, and pestiños de miel, to name just a few!
For some people, however, the idea of sitting around the table during a family gathering surrounded by these sweet can be very stressful and overwhelming.
I'm going to share my top 5 tips for eating more mindfully during Easter (or during any celebration, really) but truly, the best way to take the stress out of holiday eating is to let go of restrictions, perfectionism, and the desire to lose weight, which is really the main causes of dysfunctional eating.
Let's take a look at the 5 tips for eating more mindfully during Easter:
1. Allow yourself to eat what you really want.
The moment we label a food as "bad" and tell ourselves we can't eat it, we are turning it into our "forbidden fruit" and, inevitably, we'll crave that food even more. Saying "no" to your favourite food, such as chocolate, makes you feel deprived and that can often lead to binge eating. So allow yourself to eat and enjoy what you want!
2. Don't skip meals.
It is easy to be tempted to skip a meal, like breakfast, to make up for the sweet you're planning to eat later. Although this type of behaviour is quite common in people obsessed with macros or calorie counting, it's not a wise idea. By skipping meals, you're just letting yourself get over-hungry, and you will probably feel out of control around those sweets.
3. Let go of guilt and judgement around food.
Usually, shame comes first when we overeat and then judgement as a response. We can't help but say to ourselves things like: "I can't believe I ate the whole box of chocolates", "I ate like a 🐷, I'm disgusting!" or "I'm going to get so fat... I better not to eat anything for dinner".
Judgement and guilt make us feel so bad and ashamed that there is no space for self-compassion. There's nothing shameful about eating chocolate - after all, it's life's sweet pleasure!
To avoid these feelings of guilt, try to eat with full awareness. If you're eating an Easter egg, eliminate distractions, bring your attention to the food and eat it with all your senses. Below, you can find a mindful eating exercise to practice at home.
4. Learn to say "no".
At first glance, this tip may contradict tip #1, but it is, in reality, learning to set boundaries.
I'm sure that, more than once, you've eaten something you didn't really want to eat, just for the sake of stopping listening to someone say: "Are you going to leave the last one?", "Come on, eat it! I spent hours in the kitchen making them!". Learning to say "no" in these situations is truly an act of self-confidence.
5. Enjoy the celebrations.
Finally, try not to focus solely on food. Use these holidays to relax, connect with friends and family, and enjoy yourself. Perhaps you can help your mum make her delicious hot cross buns or organise an Easter egg hunt. There are so many ways to enjoy food and company, don't make it all about food.
MINDFUL EATING PRACTICE EXERCISE
The following practice can help you connect with your senses and bring a sense of awareness to eating. I recommend practising this exercise with a chocolate bonbon.
Place the chocolate in your hand. Imagine you are seeing it with new eyes. Feel its texture and weight in your hands. Look at the colour and texture of the chocolate. Explore the creases and folds of its cover.
Bring the chocolate to your nose. Feel the sensation in your arm as you raise your arm. Notice any scent as you breathe in and smell the chocolate. Spend some time doing this.
Hold the chocolate to your ear and rotate it using your fingers. Does it make any sound? Bring your arm down.
Close your eyes as you rotate the chocolate on the palm of your hand. Observe any sensations. Try to get a feel for its weight and density. How does it?
As you bring the chocolate towards your mouth, pause and notice if you are salivating or any thoughts you are experiencing. Touch the chocolate to your lip and notice the sensations.
Place the chocolate between your teeth and gently take a bite. Notice how your taste buds give you new information. Observe the sensations of tasting and eating. How are you feeling as you do this? Feel its texture on your tongue, moving it around. Notice how that feels and notice your tongue moving.
Notice how the chocolate melts in your mouth. Stay with the experience until you finish swallowing.
Now place the remaining chocolate in your mouth. Perhaps you want to lick your sticky fingers. How are you feeling as you do this?
Notice any after taste. Sit and contemplate how you now feel and what you have learnt.
Have you ever heard of torrijas?
A cross between french toast and bread pudding, Torrijas is a traditional Spanish dessert for Easter.
There are many torrijas recipes in Spain, but the one I'm sharing here is my mum's recipe!
I hope you like them!