For my mother, it matters very little that I’m 28. I will forever wake up on Easter Sunday to a basket overflowing with Mini Eggs, Crème Eggs, Reese’s Eggs, Peeps, and enough of that silky, fluorescent grass to ensure that I will never, ever get it all out of my home. Two years ago, when I was living in Seattle, she mailed me seven pounds of chocolate. It was the most delicious period of Daniel’s and my life, to say the least.
No matter how deeply I care about health and maintaining a happy weight, I will never stop eating my favorites on Easter—it’s just a special day. And I look forward to this basket—this Cadbury-laden holiday—all year. Now, in a perfect, peachy world, I would leave you only with this: Save me a Crème Egg? I’d tell you to enjoy yourself fully and eat what you want; eat what you love. I’d tell you not to sweat it if your candy trough is empty by noontime. Call it brunch!
But then, I know that for the binge eaters among us (current and recovering), this isn’t quite helpful, and it’s not always easy to handle holidays. So here’s what I can offer you, because I do want everyone to partake in deliciousness to some degree: the key to enjoying the things you crave—truly enjoying them without slipping into a bender—is the positive self-talk and visualization that go on before consumption. For me, I begin by consciously choosing only the treats I love most. I don’t waste my time on anything less than a favorite. Russell Stover Vanilla Cream Eggs? Yes. Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs? Of course. Jelly Beans? Meh. It might require a bit of taste snobbery, but ultimately it ensures that I’m eating what I crave and also helps to set up a flexible boundary. It allows me to maintain some sense of control. Next, it’s a matter of saying to myself, “I’m going to enjoy every last bite of these and when I’m done, I’m going to do ‘X’ (any activity to move on with my day or night).” I visualize myself successfully enjoying the treats that I’ve picked and then going about my life as I normally do without continuing to eat recklessly. The visualization—imagining the whole eating and moving on process from start to finish—lends a sense of confidence, a loose plan to follow. It allows me to practice the kind of mindful eating I believe in. I remind myself of the positive feelings that bloom from being able to indulge without gorging—of eating in a way that I’m proud of—and when I think of the times that I’ve successfully done just that, a strength builds. A cycle starts.
Now, if all of this seems a bit silly and over-the-top, well, I hear you. I do. But it won’t feel silly for all of us. Some will understand what I mean when I say that one of the main goals in developing a healthy relationship with eating is learning to trust ourselves around all food, without the fear of abusing it. Maybe for those among us who have just recently embarked on a weight loss journey, this year will be your first in trying eat Cadbury Mini Eggs moderately. If this is true for you, rest assured that we all wish they were nutritionally akin to broccoli florets.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that no one has ever—ever—gained a significant amount of weight from eating candy or carrot cake or an amazingly decadent brunch on Easter, just as no one has toppled over from the lone Thursday of Thanksgiving. It’s the eating the days before, the days after, the weeks, the months—that leave us heavier. It’s not the treat in isolation; it’s our treatment of it long-term. So while I’d love for all of us to avoid bingeing, I’d like this to serve as a gentle reminder that we enjoy ourselves, too.
Regardless of the choices you make today, tomorrow, or Sunday—if Easter is even a part of your life—know that you’re going to be just fine. We can always move on. And if need be, we can always start over.