Just as with many other occasions throughout the year, food plays a big part in Easter celebrations, even more so as Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent, a period of 40 days of fasting. There is no reason why you can't enjoy Easter treats, but it can be easy to overdo it with all the chocolate on offer. In this article we hope to give you some helpful tips on how to enjoy the Easter break without overindulging.
Eggs traditionally symbolise rebirth and new life. Chocolate is now commonly associated with Easter, the first chocolate egg dates back to the early 1800s.
Whilst it does provide small amounts of some micronutrients such as iron, magnesium and phosphorus, chocolate also contains high amounts of energy, fat and sugar, so should be eaten in moderation.
- Don’t graze on chocolate all day as you will find it hard to keep track of how much you’ve eaten.
- Take time to enjoy your Easter eggs – remember they don’t all have to be eaten on Easter Sunday!
- Keep an eye on your portion sizes - opt for mini versions or share your normal sized eggs with family and friends.
- Go for dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa. You will probably find that the strong flavour will mean that you will eat less.
With the shops full of the chocolate variety at this time of year, it can be easy to forget about real eggs, which are a very versatile food and provide nutrients including zinc, vitamin D and protein. Try including having boiled or poached eggs with toast for breakfast, having eggs with reduced fat mayonnaise and cress in sandwiches or bagels or as an omelette with plenty of vegetables or salad.
Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns are small spiced buns made with currants or raisins and sometimes other dried fruits, marked with a pastry cross on the top. They are traditionally eaten on Good Friday.
- Choose wholemeal versions which are now widely available in supermarkets, to help boost your fibre intake.
- Go easy on toppings, and try using low-fat spread instead of butter.
Roast lamb is a popular choice for many people on Easter Sunday. The tradition of eating roast lamb at Easter comes from the Jewish celebration of Passover, which occurs at around the same time.
Lamb is a source of protein, vitamin B12 and zinc however it can be high in saturated fat, which has been associated with raised blood cholesterol levels, which is one of the risk factors for heart disease.
For a healthier Easter Sunday roast:
- Cut potatoes into larger chunks before roasting them so that they absorb less fat, and use olive or sunflower oil to roast them in rather than butter.
- Include lots of fresh vegetables to help reach your 5 A DAY – asparagus, cabbage and kale are all in season at this time of year - see Why eat seasonally?
- Cut off any visible fat from the meat, and try not to add too much extra oil or fat – try cooking it on a wire rack so that excess fat can run off.
- Use herbs and spices instead of butter and salt when serving and cooking vegetables.
Tips to keep active over the Easter period
- Make the most of the Spring weather and go for a long walk or bike ride with family and friends to build up an appetite for your Easter meal.
- Create an outdoor Easter egg hunt or egg-and-spoon race for children, which will get them active and out in the fresh air.
Last reviewed 29/01/2013. Next due for review 29/01/2016