Home Healthy Eating I’m a Doctor: This Is What Happens When You Binge Eat Easter Egg Chocolate

I’m a Doctor: This Is What Happens When You Binge Eat Easter Egg Chocolate

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The supermarket shelves have been stocked up with chocolatey Easter treats pretty much since Christmas, and with Easter eggs costing as little as £1, it’s no wonder they’re so hard to resist.

It’s estimated that 80 to 90 million Easter eggs are eaten each year in the UK, and it’s not uncommon for Brits to get through at least one a day. Studies show 43% of children will start early and eat their first egg before Easter Sunday, and 19% of them admit that they will probably make themselves ill by overeating.

However, doctors have issued a warning that binge-eating Easter eggs in this manner can be hugely detrimental to our health.

Dr Claire Merrifield, a GP at Selph comments: “Typically, cheaper Easter egg chocolate is ultra-processed, which means they have lots of artificial ingredients added to them that you wouldn’t typically find in a kitchen.

“In particular, it will contain emulsifiers, thickening agents, gelling agents, and E numbers. Ultra-processed chocolates have very little cocoa in them and are mainly a mix of these other ingredients. These extra ingredients are designed to make that chocolate delicious and easy to eat, so you eat it faster and eat more of it.”

However, “binge” eating chocolate can have a harmful effect on our bodies, Dr Merrifield explains: “If we constantly eat ultra-processed foods, we can eat around 500 more calories a day than if we just eat whole foods. Eating a 100-gram Easter egg a day, or even half an egg, can result in weight gain due to the high sugar and fat content.

“Binge eating chocolate regularly can also contribute to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol, due to the high saturated fat and sugar levels.

“For example, someone who leads a largely sedentary lifestyle will easily consume more energy than they need if they regularly eat high-processed, high-sugar foods such as this kind of cheap chocolate. This is dangerous because, over time, the fat stores become full, and your body has to store fat in the cells of your muscles and organs, such as your liver and pancreas. This is the major cause of “insulin resistance”, which, over time, can lead to type 2 diabetes.

“This does, of course, vary from person to person. To get a better understanding of how our blood sugar responds to our lifestyle, trying out a continuous glucose monitor can be a great idea. This will help to understand how exercise, stress levels, and the foods we eat impact our blood glucose levels.”

To help Brits be a little more considerate of their chocolate intake over Easter, Claire shares her top tips:

1. Switch to dark chocolate 

“In small quantities, good-quality dark chocolate has health-promoting properties. It is delicious and can still satisfy a sweet tooth. Studies show it also reduces snacking and appetite. Because dark chocolate has such an intense flavour, it’s not usually something you need more than a mouthful of. It is of course more of an acquired taste, so you could experiment by starting with a lower cocoa mass percentage and increasing this over time.”

2. Check the nutrition labels 

“Dark chocolate contains around 5x the amount of fibre and half the amount of sugar compared to a standard milk chocolate bar or Easter egg. When you’re buying Easter chocolate, it’s worth reading the nutrition labels carefully and opting for the higher fibre, lower sugar content option.”

3. Only have chocolate after a nutritious meal 

“If you’ve had a nutritious, healthy savoury meal containing lots of vegetables and fibre, then a little bit of chocolate once in a while won’t do very much harm.

“When an Easter egg follows an abundance of other high-fat, ultra-processed foods, it just adds to the volume of unhealthy foods you are consuming at once, which can then lead to weight gain if this happens often.”

4. Exercise in-between meals 

“Exercising and burning calories in-between and after meals has so many benefits. Not only does it burn off calories from the food you’ve eaten, but it also helps you to let off steam, reduce stress, and boost your metabolism.

“This does not have to be high-intensity exercise. A simple, brisk walk will do the trick, just try and get out of breath.”

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