Let’s face it, Easter isn’t the easiest time to be giving up chocolate and you really don’t have to. Chocolate is one of life’s simple pleasures (and some studies have even shown it could boost cognitive skills, score!). So instead of saying you’re not going to have any chocolate at all over the holidays why not make some smarter chocolate choices and enjoy the weekend the way the Easter Bunny intended. We spoke to nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box health editor Melissa Fine about her advice for enjoying your eggs and staying balanced.

1) Watch your portions

The other day I took a giant, 100 g Easter egg home. Lesson learned. If you feel like an Easter egg, go for it – but have one or two mini, thumbprint sized eggs, or one that’s equivalent to a fun-sized chocolate (around 35 g). Buying a king size egg or tray of choc Easter eggs to ‘last you the whole week’ is easier said than done.

2) Go dark

“I’ll just have one piece of milk chocolate” goes out the window once I start eating it. It might have something to do with the fact that milk or white ‘chocolate’ is highly processed and high in refined sugar – which makes it highly addictive.

Bittersweet dark chocolate that has a high percentage of cacao – at least 80% – one or two pieces leaves me feeling satisfied. You’re also more likely to eat dark chocolate more slowly because of its intense, rich flavour, which really lingers in the mouth long after you’ve eaten it… Dark chocolate really makes you appreciate your chocolate more!

3) Find healthier substitutes

Miss your milk chocolate? Check out Well Naturally’s No Added Sugar Milk Chocolate (in the health food aisle at supermarkets). Super creamy and sweetened with stevia, a couple squares is a good alternative to confectionary-style milk chocolate. Great that it comes in a smaller portion-sized bar too.

I’m also loving mini carob Easter eggs (from health food stores). Carob is naturally sweet, so there’s no need for it to have added sugar. Added bonus, it’s caffeine free making it a good option if you find that Easter chocolate leaves you or your kids wired. Plus, it tastes like fudge.

4) Be mindful and enjoy it

Dessert always tastes better when you’re out and about with a fun crowd, and when there’s reason to celebrate don’t you think? Popping one mini choc egg after the next after the next while watching telly ends up being not so fun, especially with the bellyache that follows.

5) Don’t be so hard on yourself

Ended up going overboard on that giant chocolate bunny in the office? Don’t beat yourself up about it. Aim to make your next meal a healthy one full of veggies instead. Toss in some good quality protein (like fish, chicken or tofu) and whole grains and you’ll feel better for it. Remember, Easter only comes around once a year so a little extra chocolate than you would usually have isn’t the end of the world.

For further healthy sweet treat ideas, check out GoodnessMe Box’s free wholefood sweet treats recipe e-book.