Easter chocoholics arise and face the facts
VAST assortments of chocolates are on the supermarket shelves for the buying, but which ones will do the least damage to our waistline?
The answer is simply none. But, if you can't resist the urge to indulge, take some advice from an expert which type is the best.
Have you noticed that since the Christmas marketing has ceased chocolate has been promoted where we shop. Curtin University dietitian Amelia Harray said this has led to us eating the heavily discounted chocolate for a whole lot longer than just for a few days over Easter.
"Over Easter it's okay to have a bit of chocolate if you like it," Mrs Harray said. "It's the lead up which is the problem, when eating chocolate becomes a daily habit.
"If you are eating one, full rounded Easter egg each day for the 80 days they are on the shelf, that's about 80 teaspoons of sugar that your body doesn't need."
The corner of my desk is currently covered in similar sized eggs. I think it might be time to put them away from where I can easily reach them and discover more about the good, the bad and the ugly of Easter eggs.
Dark chocolate has antioxidants, doesn't it?
"There are so many options," Mrs Harray said. "Unfortunately, you just can't say dark chocolate is a healthier option as food manufacturers are really clever in how they market and how much sugar they put in."
When the cocoa beans are processed they lose their antioxidant content. "The overall message is dark chocolate is not a good source of antioxidants and often has lots of added sugar in it just like milk chocolate," Mrs Harray added.
"The amount of dark chocolate in a product - say 70 per cent or 90 percent - doesn't determine its antioxidant content. Because it is affected by the processing, it may still have 90 per cent dark chocolate, but it depends on the amount of processing that it has undergone."
So, there goes that excuse for eating lots of dark chocolate.
What then is my best choice?
Head for the chocolate which has listed in the nutrition information on the packaging less than 5g of added sugar per 100g serving.
Mrs Harray said some darker chocolate complies, but they often carry a higher price tag.
For other chocolate choices, she recommends eating small amounts and only occasionally. However, milk and white chocolates are considered "junk" food which contain a lot of added sugar and not many nutrients.
She suggests dipping strawberries in melted dark chocolate and putting them in the fridge, for a sweet alternative. You will end up eating less chocolate and getting antioxidants from fruit.
Another idea is to buy raw cocoa powder from the health food section of the supermarket and mix up it up with hot milk and cinnamon to make a tasty drink.
Dried fruit is another idea which will feed your Easter sweet tooth.
While you are enjoying Easter
Don't feed your pets any chocolate. That is the advice of RSPCA Queensland's veterinarian Dr Anne Chester who warns chocolate can be deadly.
"The problem is that the systems of cats and dogs can't tolerate theobromine, one of key ingredients of chocolate," Dr Chester said.
"Please, think carefully before you feed your pets food designed for humans-especially chocolate."