The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

The upcoming chocolate fest doesn’t need to bring your healthy eating habits crashing down. Follow our Easter survival plan to have a good time without diet disaster.

1. Consider Easter as just one day (Easter Sunday itself)
As far as chocolate is concerned, rather than indulging over the entire weekend. This acts as a damage limitation policy, giving you a definite time span within which you can enjoy a treat, knowing that you’ll be back on track and walking off any extra calories come Monday.

2. Plan your treats for the day 
and stick to the plan.
Decide beforehand not only what you’ll be eating, but 
when you’ll be eating it. It’s worth taking the time to sit down and visualise this plan, imagining where you’ll be, how you’ll unwrap the treat and what it will feel like when you’re eating it.

Crucially, you should also think about how you’ll feel once you’ve finished eating (and how the amount you’ve already decided on will be enough). Our brains are like heat-seeking missiles – if you repeat this plan several times, it will be easier to stick to and you’ll find you enjoy treats to the full on the day without feeling guilty afterwards.

3. Be prepared for temptation
Plan your responses in advance to those who put temptation in your way over the Easter weekend, threatening to derail your careful plans. Begin by thanking that person for offering you extra treats – this allows you to move smoothly into turning them down with polite phrases such as, ‘I’d love to but I’ve got a treat saved up for later, which I don’t want to spoil,’ or, if they’re persistent, ‘That’s so kind. I’m not hungry right now but I’ll keep it for another time.’ These responses keep you in the driving seat and in control of your own Easter indulgence.

4. Be to the point with your nearest and dearest.
If they usually buy you a traditional chocolate-based treat for Easter, ask if you could have an alternative this year. Perhaps your favourite flowers or something colourful for the garden, a trip out to a local beauty spot, a voucher to try a new hobby or a few pounds to put in the kitty towards something special you’re saving up for.

5. Know the facts
It’s interesting to note that chocolate is low glycaemic index (GI), so it won’t send your blood sugar levels soaring, despite what people say. This means that you can enjoy some without spinning out of control with blood sugar peaks and troughs after eating. Remember, though, the reason chocolate is low GI is that the digestion of the sugar it contains is slowed down by large amounts of fat, so you still need to go steady on how much you eat for the sake of your waistline.

If you’re a dark chocolate fan, good news: researchers in Sweden have discovered that a little bit of high percentage cocoa chocolate (70% and over) helps to fill you up, so you’ll eat fewer calories at your next meal. Look for dark chocolate eggs on the shelves. Or you could buy a few mini bars of your favourite dark chocolate and arrange them in a pretty wicker basket decorated with Easter accessories for a homemade treat.

6. Have fun
Make the most of the weekend and embrace the holiday element. Shift the emphasis from chocolate to spending time with friends and family, getting active and enjoying a break from the day-to-day routine.

7. Take it slow
Take advantage of the fact that chocolate is the only food that melts at body temperature, so you can make it go a long way by putting a little piece in your mouth and letting it gradually melt. This allows you to luxuriate fully in the delicious flavour and texture and extend your chocolatey experience. Less becomes more…

Alternatively, enjoying an Easter egg intended for children can be a great way to ensure you don’t go overboard with your treat.

8. Planning is key
Help yourself to stay in control on Easter Sunday by planning your meals ahead, too. By having breakfast, lunch and dinner and some healthy snacks, it will make it much easier to stick with your chocolate damage limitation plan.

9. Get your bake on
When baking Easter goodies, don’t be fooled into thinking the sugar ‘alternatives’ such as honey and agave nectar are better just because they’re natural. Honey and syrups count as added sugars (the type we need to limit). For a truly sugar-free alternative, look for sweeteners such as xylitol-based Total Sweet – find our favourite sugar alternatives here.

10. Go on, spoil yourself
Just because you’re not indulging in a truck-load of sugary snacks over the Easter weekend, it doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself. Cook up your favourite savoury dish or allow yourself some time out with a luxurious bubble bath. An Easter hunt in the garden finding non-food items is usually a great success, along with buying beautiful spring flowers – they last longer than chocolate!

Tips from Claire White, the author of the Sugar Snub guides, which offer useful lists of the sugar contents of common supermarket foods and restaurant and café dishes.