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Easter Sunday is upon us, and it’s brought with it more chocolate per person than many of us will eat in rest of the year combined.
For some, this heralds the resumption of a familiar cycle. You can watch it live on social media: first comes the gluttony (selfies with fancy Easter eggs) which over the coming days gives way to shame, remorse and regret.
We think this self-flagellation is cruel and unnecessary. Here’s why you should pig out today, and feel nothing but warm, chocolatey joy.
1. It’s traditional
All our national celebrations require unusual behaviour. On Bonfire Night tradition dictates that we burn stuff, and at Halloween no-one bats an eyelid about sending children to strangers’ houses to ask for chocolate.
If we have to eat Brussels sprouts at Christmas, we’re sure that come Eastertime you can force down some delicious, bunny-shaped chocolate. It’s practically the law.
2. You don’t want to be a party pooper
No one likes a Negative Nancy, and your refusal to join in the fun will 100% be interpreted as holiday-shaming. Unless you want a visit from the Ghosts of Easter Past, we suggest at least a little Easter spirit.
3. Indulging occasionally is good for you
‘A little of what you fancy does you good’ is a saying almost as old as Easter itself. Self-care, nurturing, self-compassion – call it what you will, but a bit of inner kindness can work wonders for your wellbeing.
If you spend 364 days of the year living in Spartan self-denial, you should let yourself off the leash for the 365th.
4. The chocolate itself isn’t the issue – it’s how you feel about it
Easter is just one day, so you could spend it scoffing every chocolate bunny in Belgium and it wouldn’t make an huge difference. For most of us, it’s more about our relationship with food, how we feel about our own willpower and the standards we try to uphold.
5. Eating chocolate makes you happy
I mean, obviously. But there is also some actual chemistry behind this.
Chocolate contains the weak stimulant Theobromine, mild euphoria chemical Phenylethylalanine, and the amino acid Tryptophan, which is used by the brain to generate serotonin.
So there you go, chocolate can be a mood-booster – science says so.
6. There’s zero point feeling guilty about something you’re going to do anyway
Two roads diverge before you: one involves insisting you neither need nor want any Easter eggs, staring longingly at the mounds of chocolate accruing around you, and eventually caving and binge-eating in a confused and guilt-fuelled frenzy.
The other involves accepting that it’s OK to eat lots of chocolate on the one day of the year which it’s OK to eat lots of chocolate, and generally having a jolly nice time.
7. Not all chocolate is that unhealthy
Cocoa contains a group of antioxidants, and studies suggest that chocolate with high cocoa content (more than 70%) might help slightly lower blood pressure, and even reduce the likelihood of strokes.
Is chocolate actively healthy? No, so don’t get any ideas.
8. Alternative Easter food really isn’t that great
Hot cross buns are keepers, but we could happily skip boiled eggs for breakfast, and Easter lamb is no Christmas turkey (some might say). Worst by far is Simnel cake, that most traditional of Easter foods, which is laced with a divisive combination of almonds and marzipan.
9. It’s a reward for the self-denial of Lent
In the scriptures we might be on shaky ground here, but one theory holds that we eat eggs at Easter because churches would ban them during Lent. When the 40 days were up, an eggy banquet would ensue, which in turn led to the hunting, painting and rolling of today.
This might be total twaddle, but if you have observed Lent your days of abstinence are now over. After the famine comes the feast.
10. Easter chocolate is a once-a-year opportunity
Mercifully chocolate is not a seasonal foodstuff, but chocolate in egg form is unique to Easter, as is an ever-increasing menagerie of chocolate animals. Technically you could eat a chocolate bunny at any time of year, but you could also sing Christmas carols in June.
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