The most chocolatey time of year is here again – Easter is responsible for 3.6% of Australia’s total yearly chocolate consumption. But while our sweet tooths are rejoicing, it’s not such great news for our waistlines. We all know how easy it is for just one mini chocolate egg to turn into a whole packet, plus a chocolate bunny, and maybe just one more…
The trick to having your Easter eggs and eating them too is to choose your chocolate wisely, and take special note of portion sizes – and definitely don’t rely on the size of the packaging to indicate how much you should be eating, says Medibank’s Dr Ian Boyd.
“Companies are clever in the way they portion their products, and it’s easy to get confused looking at the nutritional information label on the back of a Lindt Gold Bunny for example, and mistake the 40g serving size for the whole 200g bunny,” Dr Boyd says. “Suddenly you’re taking in 4542 extra kilojoules (1085 calories) as opposed to the intended 40g serving size which is 908 kilojoules (217 calories).”
To put that in perspective, the average Australian woman would need to cycle for an hour and 20 minutes to burn off that amount of chocolate, while the average man would need to walk the dog for more than four hours. Hmm, suddenly that bunny doesn’t look so appealing after all…
Dark vs. milk vs. white chocolate
Another trick Dr Boyd recommends is to always choose dark chocolate over milk or white chocolate – the dark stuff, when consumed in moderation, has some health benefits.
“Dark chocolate with more than 70% of cocoa solids is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are found in a number of foods such as green tea, fruits and vegetables that have been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve insulin resistance and prevent coronary artery disease, hypertension and heart failure,” Dr Boyd says.
Still, it’s important to keep in mind: not all dark chocolate is created equal. The amounts of flavonoids and sugar in each variety of chocolate vary from brand to brand, so take note of the percentage of cocoa in the ingredients list and choose accordingly.
How to avoid Easter weight gain
“Whether you opt for dark chocolate or not, it’s important to buy and eat your Easter eggs responsibly to know exactly what you’re up for in the kilojoule stakes and avoid unnecessary weight gain,” Dr Boyd says.
Here are his top tips for smart chocolate eating:
1. Set yourself a reasonable chocolate limit.
2. Check your serving sizes – beware of serving sizing in grams for novelty chocolate like bunnies and giant eggs, and stick to labels which say the kilojoules/calories per Easter egg.
3. Replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate – it can improve heart health and make you less likely to overindulge because of its bitterness.
4. Swap out the sweet version for the real version – hard boiled eggs are a great source of protein and at 326KJ per egg (78 calories) they’re a lot better for your waistline and your health.
5. Think of how much exercise you’ll have to do before you reach for the Easter egg basket – for every mini milk chocolate egg you eat, you’ll have to jog for 4 minutes to burn it off. (Based on the nutritional information of Cadbury dairy milk chocolate mini eggs.)
For more ideas, check out some better ways to get your chocolate fix.