With Easter around the corner, many people trying to keep their weight in check will be starting to panic, and it's little wonder.
Australians scoff around 110,000 tonnes of chocolate each year - translating to a whopping 5.8 kilograms per person per year, along with 42 kilograms of sugar - a staggering 27 teaspoons per person per day.
For many people, avoiding the sweet stuff is a daily struggle, at Easter time - with Easter eggs, bilbies and bunnies tempting us at every turn - it might seem near impossible. This, says Accredited Practising Dietitian Duncan Hunter, is where most people slip up.
"With temptation all around it's all too easy to opt to ignore your healthy eating plan over the Easter break, thinking you'll get back on track the following week. And while it's not realistic to completely ignore the Easter tradition - and the chocolates that go along with it - there are a few savvy strategies you can employ to make sure you treat yourself (a little) but don't undo your hard work and set your diet back because of a few days off the wagon."
To put that in perspective, Hunter says it takes two hours of brisk walking or 60 minutes of jogging to work off a large 100 gram egg, and even a small 7 gram Easter egg will see you walking for 8 minutes or jogging for 4 minutes to get rid of the guilt.
"If you do the math, and consider how much effort is required to work off just a few eggs you might think twice before you put too many into your mouth. To boost your ability to navigate the Easter minefield, plan ahead so you don't get caught on the hop," Mr Hunter advised.
"The evidence shows that the fastest - and simplest - way to lose weight is through a carbohydrate controlled eating plan where there's no need to count calories and you feel satisfied for longer. This is why New Atkins is so successful; it begins by restricting carbohydrates for rapid weight loss and gradually adds nutrient-rich, low-GI carbs such as wholegrains and legumes as followers move through the four phases. It also allows followers to enjoy delicious foods they'd never dream of eating on an extreme low calorie plan which will make the Easter chocfest easier to navigate."
Here are Duncan Hunter's top tips for beating the binge this Easter:
• Rather than gorging across the entire holiday, choose one day to indulge within reason - and stick to your healthy low-carb eating plan, such as the New Atkins Nutritional Approach, for the other three days
• Don't walk down the chocolate aisle. No, really. The choice to eat chocolate begins when you choose to walk down that aisle in the supermarket. If you don't bring it home (or at least not too much of it), you can't eat it. Ditto for high-carb hot cross buns
• Don't constrain yourself entirely - there are plenty of healthy, sweet tasting treats that you can indulge in over Easter. Try swapping hot cross buns (41grams of carbohydrates each) for orange and poppy seed scones (5.6g of carbs each), or a regular sized 75g chocolate eggs (46g of carbs) for a serve of (Atkins) chocolate coated macadamias and blueberries (3.7g of carbs) (see recipes below)
• If you are going to allow yourself some chocolate, decide how much in advance, purchase small (less than 30g) low-sugar dark chocolate Easter eggs (check the label) that are wrapped so you can't eat them too quickly. Once you've eaten your designated stash, that's it. Don't keep bingeing all weekend
• Leftovers can linger so once your family meal is done or your visitors are leaving, send a takeaway container home with your guests so that you don't have temptation sitting in the fridge all week. Give away or throw out any leftover chocolate - better in the waste than around your waist
• If you're still craving chocolate, satisfy your sweet tooth with a guilt-free low-carb treat such as an Atkins Chocolate Decadence Advantage Bar (just 1g sugar) or an Atkins Milk Chocolate Advantage Shake - the go-to drink for health-conscious chocoholics
Should your best-laid plans come unstuck, don't despair, Duncan Hunter has whipped up a quick post-feast fix to get you back on track in a flash.
"Since most of the weight gain from a brief episode of carbohydrate overindulgence is water, the best antidote is to reduce your carb intake. Drop back to 20 grams per day of carbohydrates and stay there until the weight you gained comes off. After that you can slowly increase your carbohydrate intake according to your individual goals and metabolism," Mr Hunter advises.
Hunter also suggests a morning exercise session the day after Easter to reset your metabolism and get back into a routine. Alternatively, grab a friend and sign up for the New Atkins Buddy program so that you have a friend to support you - and keep you motivated on the way to your weight loss and healthy lifestyle goals.