Setting Terms w/ the Easter Bunny
Easter Weekend means different things to different people. Personally, it is one of my favourite holidays to spend with my family. It brings back memories of painting eggs, preparing a great feast, and hunting for tasty treasures that the Easter Bunny left behind.
As a kid, I dreamt of finding colossal chocolate bunny statues made by the incredible Reid's Chocolate, the greatest chocolate maker located in Galt, which has been making confections for the last 75 years. These mammoth chocolate statues are a vivid memory of mine as young as I can remember. However, as I've grown into an adult, the holiday had turned into a source of anxiety due to my challenges with sugar addiction. If you’d like to read more about my journey, read this post.
From years of trial and error, I've gotten myself to a place where I can feel the child-like joy again without having fears of putting myself into a shame-filled sugar coma. Here are the steps I take to prepare for the weekend:
#1 - Form A Plan
Going into a holiday with a plan reduces the anxiety that comes from the fear of indulging to a point where you feel shame. To build a plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Where will I be for the weekend?
The plan has to fit into the environment. I am spending the weekend at my sister's house, which means that there will be chocolate and treats for my nieces around me. By knowing that, I can form my plan around that specific environment.
- What type of meals/treats will be around me, and can I influence them?
By talking about the menu for the weekend, I can make sure that I am getting enough protein, healthy fats, and fibre to satiate my hunger so that I have less opportunity to experience low blood sugar. When I have low blood sugar, my ability to say no to treats drastically decreases.
- What are my triggers?
I am a sucker for Reid's chocolate tortoises - they are a perfect treat to me. I know that one box = 3 moments of “joy” so I only allow myself to get one box.
- Who can keep me accountable?
By explaining to my support team (my sister and my partner) that I struggle with binging sugar on Easter Weekend, I go from feeling alone and ashamed of my inability to say no to feeling like I have a team around me who will support me and keep me accountable.
- What is my "No Thank You" response?
Many of us have family who can take offence if we decline the beautiful holiday cake or treat that they made for us. By having a response pre-planned, it allows you to feel ready for the situation. My response is to be honest yet firm: "Wow, that is such a beautiful (insert cake name), but I don't feel good when I eat a lot of sugar, so I am going to pass on dessert, but I really appreciate the offer."
- Remind yourself of your "Why"
I know that I feel terrible when I eat too much sugar. I don't sleep well, I get brain fog, I get mood swings, and my skin breaks out in acne. By reminding myself that I choose not to experience these things, it makes the trade-off of a five-second sugar high feel unworthy.
- Plan a health-focused week Post-Easter.
I stock my fridge with pre-made Nook meals starting Monday night for the next week because I know that all of the meals are free from refined sugar and have balanced nutrients that will boost my energy and satiate any cravings. By having them pre-ordered before Easter, it allows me to feel like I'm already prepared for the week after the holiday. No matter what I enjoy during the holiday, I'm already taking care of my future self.
#2 - Establishing My Sugar Limit
An "all-or-nothing" mentality has never served me well. It has led to me either being paranoid about having any type of sugar or letting a single bite spiral into dramatic negative self-talk, such as "You have no willpower; you're addicted to sugar and will never escape, so you might as well just drown in a chocolatey pool of guilt." By setting a limit on how much sugar I will allow myself to have without guilt or judgment, I am releasing the judgment I hold over myself while also acknowledging that it is a promise I've made to myself - one of the most important promises we can keep in our lives.
My limit for this Easter weekend is two moments of chocolate joy on Saturday and one moment of chocolate joy on Sunday.
I've learned that language matters in situations like this. I used to set a neurotic limit of 200g of chocolate per day, which turned into me stressing about the weight of the chocolate if I couldn't find the wrapper and would inevitably lead to negotiating with myself like an addict (oh come on, that isn't really 200g... you can have a few more pieces...)
Instead, by setting my limit to "moments of chocolate joy," it forces me to take responsibility for the amount because, for me, this means having a piece of chocolate that brings me joy but does not push me over the edge into overindulgence, which would bring me shame and frustration. This shift in language reminds me WHY I am allowing myself to have sugar: it's meant to be a moment of joy to celebrate a holiday with my family without guilt. It allows me to enjoy the moment fully without letting my past habits manipulate my thoughts.
#3 - Creating New Traditions
I am blessed with an incredibly close-knit family. Easter Weekend is a big deal, especially since I have two young nieces who can't wait for the visit from the Bunny. Instead of repeating my old habits, I choose to create new traditions.
- I focus on preparing healthy, high-protein, and high-fat breakfasts that will satiate me and my family throughout the festivities and help curb any cravings early in the day.
- Instead of using store-bought egg colouring kits, we make our own natural ones with ingredients like purple cabbage and red onions (here's a brilliant recipe from The Kitchn.com), which serves as a reminder to slow down and incorporate more natural ingredients.
- My sister and I create a Clue-based Easter egg hunt, so my nieces must solve riddles to find their Easter treats. This makes the activity more engaging and time-consuming, with fewer treats, as the joy comes from solving the clues rather than simply finding chocolate on the ground.
- We've started going for Easter walks with the family to incorporate movement into our days instead of just lounging on the couch digging into treats.
My relationship with holidays will always be a work in progress due to my past sugar addiction, but by forming a plan, setting my own limits, and creating new traditions, I can look forward to the weekend with my family and the memories it will bring.
Here are a few affirmations I like to repeat to myself leading up to the holiday if I start to doubt myself:
"There is no wagon to fall off; there is no need for shame or guilt. I will enjoy this weekend without any fears of falling back into old habits."
"I don't need willpower; I have a plan, and I uphold the promises I make to myself."
"I am more joyful when my blood sugar is balanced."
"Each holiday is an opportunity to rewrite my relationship with treats."
My goal is not to restrict the joy I feel from a holiday, my goal is to consciously enjoy my time (and treats) over the weekend in a way that I won’t feel guilty come Monday morning.