Easter Day is soon coming, and I want to talk to you about the importance of mindful eating during this holiday. Overeating during this period or overindulging in chocolate and sweet consumption are so easy to do. At the same time, after a period of fasting in case you are religious (in my country, Romania, there are 40 days without any animal products that the church promotes to its believers to follow), digestive problems during the very rich Easter meals are common. All this, makes mindful eating especially important during this period. So, here are some tips I have for enjoying this holiday while also keeping your body balanced from a nutritional point of view.
Tips for Mindful Eating on Easter
Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate
Dark chocolate has many benefits compared with milk chocolate that I discussed more in depth in this article. Choose a good quality dark chocolate you really enjoy and make sure you savor it without any other distractions.
At the same time, avoid tiny milk chocolate eggs. It might be difficult for your mind to perceive how many calories they have because of their size. However, with a small bag, you can consume up to 800 calories.
Another tip I can give is to portion it before eating. It increases awareness about when and how you are eating, rather than mindlessly overindulging in sweet temptations.
So, this Easter head to the dark side. The higher the cocoa percentage, the better.
Listen to your body
I always had a difficult time as a child with stopping my grandparents from putting a lot of food on my plate. It was so much food that I was filling my stomach uncomfortable. You don’t need to wait for the moment you feel full. It takes some time for your mind to process what is happening to your body (around 20 minutes to register fullness). The point at which you must stop eating is when you are no longer enjoying the food while eating it.
I read on another blog an interesting analogy in which the hunger is divided into head hunger and body hunger. Head hunger is not when we are genuinely hungry, but when our minds would fancy eating something. It also lasts longer than the body hunger.
Also, I recommend drinking a cup of water before each meal to avoid mistaking thirst for hunger.
Eat with all your senses
Mindfulness is the art of being present and noticing everything around. Applying it to our meals involves a few steps and activation of all our senses:
- Use your eyes to notice the color, shape, and size of food.
- Use your nose to smell the aromas.
- Use your hand to feel the texture of the food.
- Use your ears to listen as you chew.
- Use your tongue to taste the flavors and to savor the food.
- Finish the food slowly. Take a break between mouthfuls. Enjoy it as much as possible.
The part with feeling the texture might not be possible for every food, but the rest is definitely something you can easily do. Think about the food you eat and appreciate it. This way eating will be more satisfying, and you will better understand why and how you are eating.
Eat whatever you want
Not eating something because you are on a diet of you think it has too many calories will only make you want it even more. And it often leads to overeating. Stop restricting yourself, and enjoy the special treats. Taste a little bit from everything but tune in into your body and mind signals of hunger and fullness. And let go of guilt and judgements at the end of the day. Easter foods are part of life’s pleasures and there is nothing shameful about eating something delicious with your family once in a while even if it is not the healthiest meal.
Sit down while you eat and eliminate all distractions
If you want to savor the food and to enjoy it, rather than just eating without being aware of what and how you eat, this is some advice you should follow every day for every meal. Eating on the run or while scrolling on Facebook will make you eat impulsively and not being aware when you are not hungry anymore. Sit down, savor the food, enjoy the experience. Eating should be a mental break during the rush of the day, not another task to cross on a list when done.
Eat a protein-rich breakfast
Want to avoid hunger throughout the day? If overeating during Easter lunch is your main concern, a good way to feel full for a few hours is to eat a healthy protein-rich breakfast. You can opt for an egg-based meal, or even some pancakes.
However, as tempting as it may be, avoid eating Easter eggs on an empty stomach. It will only make you harder to tune in into your hunger and fullness body cues.
Avoid over-indulging lamb and other fat meat meals
I don’t know how it is other countries, but in Easter Europe lamb is on all Easter tables. And lamb meat can be quite heavy on the stomach. Especially if it is fried or combined with potatoes. Lamb meat has a lot of collagens, that is hard to digest and causes abdominal discomfort.
Try to grill the meat you are eating and combine it with a salad or as many green vegetables as possible.
Look closely on your alcohol consumption
While talking with friends and family it might be easy to forget how many drinks you had. However, you should avoid excess. Up to two glasses is ok. Four should be the maximum for a healthy digestion and mindful Easter meal. And never drink alcohol on an empty stomach, before eating. In my country the main reason why people need to go to hospital on Easter day is acute pancreatitis, which is triggered by the combination of meals rich in fats and abundance of alcohol.
Include some movement during the day
As a child I was walking around an hour at midnight with my grandparents to the church at Easter midnight. Now, I go for a walk in the park for a few hours after the Easter lunch. Moving the body helps burning calories faster, while at the same time giving me energy and a positive mood. Taking the bicycle can be another way to enjoy the afternoon with family in a fun and meaningful way.
Easter should be about hope, sharing, positivity, and coming together. And what better way to do this can you find than donating your extra sweets just as soon as Easter meal is over? I usually ended up with so much chocolate after Easter, that I was overindulging not only for a day, but for a full month. It is not healthy for the body. Donating can help manage sweet cravings by eliminating temptations, while at the same time bringing happiness and joy to people that could not afford having Easter chocolate eggs and bunnies.
Romanian Vegetarian Easter Lunch Menu
Lastly, I want to share with you some recipes for Easter that I will prepare this year. As I no longer eat meat and this is the main ingredient in Romanian foods, especially during Easter time, it was quite difficult to find some replacements. However, I think I managed to build the perfect three course vegetarian lunch menu.
If you want more vegetarian recipes with spring vegetables you can also check this article.
First course – Zucchini soup with yogurt
Ingredients (for 4-6 people):
- 2 zucchini;
- 1 medium onion;
- 1 carrot;
- 1 bunch of parsley;
- 1 small celery;
- 30 grams rice;
- 1 egg;
- 1 tablespoon flour;
- 150 grams low-fat yogurt;
- 1.3 liters water;
- Salt and pepper;
- 2 tablespoons olive oil;
- 2 lemons (zest only).
First you fry the vegetables a little bit in a pan and then you put them with the water to boil. 20-30 minutes of boiling time should be enough for all veggies to be cooked. At the same time, you prepare the rice according to package instructions. Then you add the egg and condiments, as well as the flour, yogurt, and rice. Leave everything on slow heat for another 5 minutes and the soup is ready to enjoy.
Second course – Tarte with cheese, green onion, and dill
Ingredients (for a tarte with a diameter of 22 cm):
For the crust:
- 200 grams flour;
- 100 grams butter;
- 1 egg;
- 2 tablespoons cold water.
For the filling:
- 250 grams ricotta cheese;
- 120 grams salted cheese;
- 50 grams cheddar;
- 40 grams parmigiana;
- salt and pepper;
- 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg;
- 3 eggs;
- 1 bunch of dill;
- 2 green onions.
First you need to prepare the crust my mixing all ingredients together until the dough is soft, elastic, and doesn’t stick to your hands. Afterwards, you put it for 15 minutes in the freezer. Afterwards, you put in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes at 200 Celsius degrees.
In the meantime, you prepare the filling by mixing all ingredients together in a bowl. After 15 minutes in which the crust was alone in the oven, you add the filling on top of it and put it back in the oven for another 40 minutes, at a lower temperature (around 180 Celsius degrees).
It goes perfectly with a glass of white or rose wine.
Third course / Desert – Cozonac (Romanian traditional meal)
For me there is no Easter without this desert. It is the traditional desert from Romania for all major holidays, especially Easter and Christmas. I do not know anyone not eating it during those days.
The cozonac is similar to the Italian panettone, but it has a richer filling, and it is denser. It is usually prepared with chocolate, walnuts, and Turkish delight. However, this year I opted for a lighter version with pistachio, dark chocolate, and oranges.
Ingredients (for a 20 cm diameter cozonac):
For the “bread”:
- 400 grams flour;
- 20 grams fresh yeast;
- 110 grams sugar;
- 20 grams vanilla sugar;
- 3 egg yolks;
- 150 ml milk;
- 80 grams butter;
- 1 tablespoon orange essence;
For the filling:
- 60 grams butter;
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon;
- 60 grams pistachio;
- 80 grams dark chocolate;
- 50 grams candied orange peel.
First you mix the yeast with 30 ml warm milk and 10 grams sugar and leave it alone for around 10 minutes. Then you mix it slowly with the flour and the rest of the ingredients for the “bread”. In the end the dough will be hard to mix with a spoon or spatula so do not be afraid to use your own hands. When everything is thoughtfully mixed, cover it and let it on the table for a few hours to grow (the volume should double).
In the meantime, prepare the filling. You chop the pistachio and the candied orange peel in small pieces and then mix everything together.
When the dough is ready, you put it on the table and roll it out, spreading it on a food foil. Put the filling on tip and then roll everything carefully in a circle shape. In the end you put it in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for approximately one hour (60 minutes).
Optionally, you can add some maple syrup on top after you pull it out of the oven.
Mindful eating (for Easter and any other time of the year)
Eating mindfully is being aware of your thoughts, feeling and physical sensations related to eating. Understanding your hunger and satiety clues. Using all your senses to enjoy food. It is all about creating positive eating behaviors.
Make conscious food choices! Pay attention to how you eat! Tune in to your body signals! Practice self-acceptance!