6 Simple Mindset Tips for Choco-holics at Easter
I always envied those people who could enjoy a bit of chocolate and then leave the rest. That was never me. I found it nearly impossible to stick to just a moderate piece of chocolate, especially on Easter Sunday … because once I’d started, I’d keep going back for more.
And I’ll be honest. Sometimes it was already the second lot of Easter eggs I’d eaten. More frequently than I like to admit, I’d often already secretly indulged in the first lot of chocolate eggs in the weeks before Easter. So I’d end up having to pop back to the shop just before Easter Sunday to replace the eggs I’d already eaten.
I just loved chocolate.
I liked to think of chocolate as a central American super food full of anti-oxidants and healthy minerals. But of course our Easter eggs are a totally different affair; nothing like the raw sugar free cocoa that helps fight disease. Instead, they’re around 60-70% (or more) sugar. For those of us that struggle to eat them in moderation, they’re bad news for our health and our waistlines.
So here’s how I’ll avoid eating too many chocolate eggs this Easter:
1. How we talk to ourselves matters: replace “I can’t have” with “I choose not to”. Instead of telling myself that “I can’t have chocolate even though I’d really like some, but I ought not to”, I’ll be telling myself that “I can eat it if I want it, but I’m choosing not to”. By communicating with my mind like this I’m showing it that avoiding chocolate is not an external rule to be rebelled against, because it’s a choice that I'm making. “I’m choosing not to gorge on chocolate, and I’m choosing to feel great about it.” And so the desire for chocolate weakens.
2. Change my association between sugar and fun. Traditionally we eat sugary food to celebrate. And not just at Easter. Think cakes at birthdays, ice creams on holidays, candy at Christmas. We’ve created an association in our minds between sugar and fun. Our brains seek to move us towards pleasure and away from pain. I’ll be telling myself that sugar is an addictive toxic drug that I don’t want in my body, so that my mind starts to associate sugar with pain. Then I’ll be injecting fun into my day in other ways to give my mind other ways to find pleasure in the day. There's no need to miss out on the fun!
3. Create a clear image in my mind of how I want to look this summer. If temptation strikes, I’ll be visualising how I want to look this summer, and in so doing I’ll be giving my mind a clear instruction that feeling great about my body when the warm weather finally comes is even more desirable to me than the chocolate. Our imaginations are more powerful than our willpower. And using my imagination to increase the intensity of the colours so that they’re bright and vivid in the image of how I want to look increases the intensity of the desire to be healthy rather than eat lots of chocolate.
4. Substitute. By eating chocolate that’s at least 85% cocoa I get the “chocolate hit”, and because it’s so much more potent I only eat small amounts of it. That way I won’t feel that I’m missing out. And I’ll be buying some small gifts instead of all chocolate eggs so there’ll simply be less chocolate in the house; and when it’s out of sight it’s easier to keep it out of mind.
5. De-stress. It’s harder to remain in conscious control of what we’re eating when we’re stressed. Plus the stress hormones in our bodies increase the desire for ‘feel good’ hormones in our brains, hormones that can be temporarily activated with sweet foods like chocolate. Instead I’ll be seeking to keep my stress levels as low as possible. I’ll give myself permission to keep the day simple. Plus I’ll be increasing my feel good hormones in healthy ways, such as spending time outdoors to get fresh air and daylight.
6. I’ll be telling myself that chocolate is always available to me. When food is scarce, the brain naturally increases the desire for what’s available; it’s a survival mechanism that was really useful before an abundance of food was available to us whenever we wanted it. So I’ll be telling myself “I can eat chocolate whenever I choose to … It’s always available to me, so I don’t need to eat that chocolate today. Whenever I want it I can have it! Today I choose not to. Today I choose fruit and fun!”
And if I do end up eating too many Easter eggs … well, I’ll avoid self-criticism, because the more I judge myself, the worse I’ll feel. And the worse I feel, the more I’ll eat. Instead, I’ll choose to be kind to myself. Happy Easter!