Episode 75 Summary

  • The challenges of Easter - Easter can present significant challenges in trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There is social pressure to engage in the festivities by eating foods such as chocolate and hot cross buns. This brings with it a fear in people that they will not be able to resist these sugary “treats”, and therefore risk losing the healthy gains they might have made. 
  • The scarcity model - companies promote products in a way that feeds into the scarcity model, which is “If I don't eat it now, I'll never have an opportunity to eat it again”. But the scarcity is actually fake. For example, chocolate in the shape of a bunny or an egg is still just chocolate, which is available all year round. 
  • Turning FOMO into JOMO - if you choose to not eat Easter foods, it's natural and normal to feel FOMO, the fear of missing out. However, you can reframe FOMO. Turn that fear of missing out into joy of missing out. Celebrate all the things that you are gaining by not eating the high carb, high inflammatory food and staying true to your health goals. Turning FOMO into JOMO is possible.
  • Know yourself - knowing yourself well in terms of which foods you can regulate if you eat them is crucial. If you know that eating just one chocolate egg is very difficult for you and you are likely to end up eating many more, don't eat them. In contrast, if you know you can stop at eating just one hot cross bun, then feel free to eat one.
  • Having a plan - you need to have a plan and you can plan to go off plan over Easter if you like. That is totally okay. But if you do plan to go off plan, you need to have a plan to get back on plan. If you've taking your all-terrain vehicle off the road, you need to know how to get back on the road.
  • How to get back on plan - if you eat sugary, hyperpalatable, high carb foods over Easter, the next day your sugar cravings and/or carbohydrate cravings are likely to be activated. Although it is tempting to fast, particularly if you have overeaten, we find that often that doesn't work due to high cravings and high hunger meaning that your willpower is very low. Instead, you should nourish your body by eating food that contains plenty of protein and plenty of fat.
  • Dealing with Easter leftovers - you don't have to eat these, even if you feel like you should because you or somebody else paid for them and throwing them out is food wastage. If you don't want them, throw them in the bin.
  • Mental rehearsal - whether your plan is to have a little bit of the sugary food or none of the sugary food, have a clear plan beforehand and then practice it. Mentally rehearsing by visualising how you will successfully navigate Easter is an extremely powerful tool.
  • Beware the perfectionism - if you do slip up and eat something like a chocolate egg, beware the all of nothing mentality” that because you have stuffed up you have now ruined today and may as well eat whatever you want, and then start again and be perfect tomorrow.


To find out more about our 31-day Hypnosis Program, which can help you navigate difficult situations such as Easter, Christmas, weddings and birthdays, visit https://www.rlmedicine.com/hypnosis

Show notes:


How to navigate Easter


Dr Mary Barson: Hello, my lovely listeners. I'm Dr Mary Barson.


Dr Lucy Burns: And I'm Dr Lucy Burns. Welcome to this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. Good morning, lovely friends. I hope you're all happy, healthy and well on this beautiful morning. And I have joining me today, you know my beautiful colleague, Dr Mary Barson. Welcome, Mary.


Dr Mary Barson: Hello, Dr Lucy.


Dr Lucy Burns: How are you today?


Dr Mary Barson: Good, I'm good. Very pregnant, but good. Yes. And since this pregnancy is a state that I have willingly gone into, I'm gonna say that's a good thing. I'm feeling, feeling big. I'm feeling like I don't move very well. Getting in and out of the car is actually become sort of a hysterical farce to anyone who's watching me. But I'm okay.


Dr Lucy Burns: Good, good. I often used to joke that when I, when I was heavily pregnant that getting out of the car, you know it was like some event from the Cirque du Soleil.


Dr Mary Barson: It's totally what it feels like, and I feel this great sense of accomplishment every time I successfully navigate it.


Dr Lucy Burns: Well, so you should. Every you know, we are, we love celebrating small achievements so, “Huzzah to you for getting out of the car”.


Dr Mary Barson: Thank you. Thank you very much.


Dr Lucy Burns: All right lovely listeners, Easter is on its way. And we thought we'd talk this week about navigating Easter, and some of the tips that we've got for you to help you navigate Easter in a way that feels good for you. I guess the first thing that I would love to talk about is, and it's interesting it's come up from some of our members, they're fearful of you know what's going to happen over Easter. There's this sort of, you know impending sense of panic, that they're worried. And you know Mares, I'd like to explore that a little bit more. What do you think's going on there?


Dr Mary Barson: I reckon that for a lot of our beautiful people it's this idea that they're going to be pressured into eating hot cross buns and chocolate and things that won't necessarily serve their goals. This idea that they will lose control or a fear that they will lose control and, and lose all their gains. And if they can't do it perfectly, then they're just not going to be able to do it at all. And also, the fear of the social pressure I think is quite significant as well.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And I think for some people, it's also the fear that they won't be able to resist. On one sense, they want to resist, they don't want to eat it. And on the other hand, they've got this fear that they won't be able to, and therefore they will, air quotes, fail.


Dr Mary Barson: Yes. And it can be a really tricky time to navigate, absolutely. Because you, you really can become under a lot of pressure to eat the hot cross buns and to just eat the chocolate and to just engage in the festivities. And that creates fear and anxiety for people, but it doesn't have to. It really doesn't have to. I reckon with some simple tips and tricks, and some really simple doable mind management, everybody can find a way to navigate Easter that works for them.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. So the first thing I would like to point out is that Easter, the amount of hot cross buns and chocolate eggs that we are bombarded with is monstrous. And the reason it is, is because these companies make money out of it. The more you buy, the more money they make. So they promote their products in a way that feeds into our scarcity model, and the scarcity model is, “If I don't eat it now, I'll never have an opportunity to eat it again”. It's kind of, you know and it makes sense, because that's again, as we you know, know that we came from our ancestral times, scarcity was real. You know at the time, fruit was only available for a certain amount of time. So people, and you see it still, but you know bears gorging on honey because it's only available for a short amount of time. So there is some really deep-seated thought processes that cause this scarcity. But the scarcity is actually fake.


Dr Mary Barson: It is. It's, a lot of it is marketing mischief. I mean Easter eggs are just, you know Cadbury's easter eggs or just Cadbury's chocolate put into a different shape. There's nothing particularly magical or scarce about them. Even hot cross buns. It's raisin bread really, maybe a few more extra little spices on it. I mean, I don't know about other countries, but it's certainly not scarce in Australia. Hot cross buns, they start to be sold on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas they are everywhere.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yes.


Dr Mary Barson: So there isn't any real scarcity. The scarcity is not real.


Dr Lucy Burns: No. And this is again companies trying to capitalise on the fact that we go, “Ooh, hot cross buns are only available for a short time”. They're actually available for months. And then, even after they disappear as Mary said, they are just, it's just raisin toast in a different shape. And you can buy that all year round, there is no scarcity around hot cross buns. Chocolate in the shape of a bunny, or a shape of an egg is just chocolate, which is available all year round. Chocolate with caramel eggs, chocolate caramel-filled eggs, that's available all year round as well.


Dr Mary Barson: Yeah, and it is natural and normal to feel the fear of missing out. So this comes under our tips and tricks and reframing. So beware the marketing mischief and, and don't get sucked into this scarcity model. But also, you know there could be a bit of scarcity, truly. True scarcity. Depending on your family traditions, there might be an Easter feast at which certain foods are only available at Easter, and you may choose to eat them or you may choose to not eat them. And if you choose to not eat them, it's natural and normal to feel FOMO, the fear of missing out. And it is a fear, it's a literal fear. People do not like FOMO, it's uncomfortable. However, you can reframe FOMO. If you choose not to eat the Easter foods that are high carb or high inflammatory and not in line with your health goals, if you choose to not eat them and you're feeling the FOMO, you can practice flipping it around. Turn that fear of missing out into joy of missing out. Celebrate all the things that you are gaining by not eating the high carb, high inflammatory food. FOMO to JOMO, it's possible.


Dr Lucy Burns: It's totally possible and in fact, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So I have zero concerns about Easter these days, it is nothing. It's like, again I can buy dark chocolate, and I do. I have my, you know very dark 90 or 95% chocolate, which I can regulate because it doesn't do whatever the sugary chocolate does, and I can have that whenever I want. I'm the boss of me, I can have it whenever I want and if I have it on Easter Sunday, then that's great. I have no desire to engage in little chocolate eggs anymore and part of the reason for that is that I know that having just one is something I find very difficult. So in my head, the JOMO comes from the idea that 1 is too many and 1000 is never enough. So it's much easier for me to say no than to moderate. Now that's not the same for everybody. Everyone, again you know, we are always talking about, “You have to know yourself well”. Know exactly what tricks your brain, or stories your brain will give you and work out whether they're true.


Dr Mary Barson: Yeah, and you gotta know yourself. So for me, yeah engaging in the sugary chocolate Easter eggs is not helpful. If I eat one, I would probably you know wake up my sugar cravings getting that dopamine rush. I'd probably be inclined to want to eat more and so I just don't eat the sugary chocolate. But I do often eat a hot cross bun or two on Easter and so this is the part, we're gonna get to this in a minute, having a plan. And part of my plan is that I often do choose to, and it comes down to family traditions. So in particular, my dad really loves making sourdough bread and I don't, I don't eat his sourdough bread most of the time. Bread doesn't serve me well. But he can put so much love and attention into making these homemade sourdough hot cross buns, that you know with the cultures that he cultivates, like it's this whole process. He may not choose to do it this year, but he often does. And he's so proud of these hot cross buns that he makes and he presents to us on Easter morning, and I often eat one with some butter. And I do that with my eyes open and I really can stop at one. Bread doesn't do to me or hot cross buns don't do to me, what sugary easter eggs would do to my brain. And I would walk into that situation with my eyes open, appreciate that I'm probably going to wake up my carb cravings a little bit, which might be uncomfortable. But for you know just a whole lot of reasons, I often choose to do that and that's okay. So that kind of brings us to our next tip, is have a plan. And you are the boss of you, you can do whatever you want. You can choose to have a total bender and just eat all the things, whatever you want you know throughout the entire Easter festive period, and you can do that. You are the boss of you, that is a choice that is available to you. It might not be the best choice, it might not be a choice that aligns with your health goals. But honestly, if you did that for a few days the world would not end, the sky would not come crashing down. So you could do that.


Dr Lucy Burns: You are not a bad person, you haven't murdered anybody.


Dr Mary Barson: That's right, that's right, all things into perspective. Eating six hot cross buns is not the same as murder. Or you might want a middle ground like I do, and I just know that I can do that. I could do that with hot cross buns, but I can't do that with chocolate. You know, you might say, “Look, on Easter day I'm just gonna eat whatever. I'm just gonna do, whatever is there I'm just, I'm not gonna moderate it. I'm just gonna eat the foods that are there”. Or you might say, “Look, I'm going to stay completely on plan. I am going to only eat foods that serve me. Foods that are healthful like the green list foods, and I'm going to have a plan about how I navigate that”. And that's great too. So basically I would summarise, I'll go into more detail, but you need to have a plan. And you can plan to go off plan, that's okay, you can. But then you need a plan about how you're gonna get back on plan. So if you plan to go off plan, have a plan to get back on plan.


Dr Lucy Burns: So if you've taking your all-terrain vehicle off the road, you need to know how to get back on the road.


Dr Mary Barson: Yep, yep. You need to figure it out. So the next day after you've eaten all the things, all the chocolate, hot cross buns and celebratory Easter foods that you could possibly imagine, or you've just had a little bit, the next day you might feel a little unwell. The next day your sugar cravings and/or carbohydrate cravings are likely to be activated. And we like to call this, “You have awoken Fluffy”, Fluffy being the three-headed Cerberus carb-craving monster that lives inside your brain. And if you keep your carbohydrate intake low, Fluffy is happily, peacefully asleep and you're living your best low carb life full of food freedom, and not feeling governed by food cravings in any negative way. But then if you eat the sugary, high carb foods, hyperpalatable foods, then Fluffy can wake up. So you got a raging carb-craving monster inside your brain, what are you gonna do? You need to put Fluffy back to sleep. Lucy, what's a great way for people to put Fluffy back to sleep?


Dr Lucy Burns: So, it's tempting to fast. That's what people often do, they will think, “Ooh, I've overeaten, I'm going to counter that by fasting”. But actually that doesn't that, we find that often doesn't work because what happens is you, you're actually, your cravings are really high and high cravings and high hunger mean that your willpower, whatever that is, is very low. So the idea being that what we want to do is while Fluffy goes back to sleep, we want to make sure that we have nourished our body with plenty of protein and plenty of fat. So combining that fat, protein, and so definitely don't fast, you know again, if you're a three meal a day person, then have your three meals. If you're a two meal a day person, have two meals. But I wouldn't make that next day your low eating day. And again, depending on your Fluffy, everyone's Fluffy is different, some people's will go back to sleep quite quickly, maybe a couple of days. And then if you wanted to have you know a fasting period, that's fine. You could do that then. And the fasting can be used kind of like a punishment as we talked about last, in the last couple of episodes, again withdrawing a food as a punishment. And so you're really you know setting yourself up to potentially fail, whatever that, again whatever that means. But the idea is that you then can't, your one day turns into a six-week extravaganza because you haven't put him back to sleep.


Dr Mary Barson: That's right. And you, to our beautiful members I remember you gave out some wonderful advice on what to do on Boxing Day with regards to, you know all the leftovers and sugary high carb food that you might have around. So what would you say to people after Easter?


Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah so this is, I reckon is one of the hardest things to manage your mind around, and again it comes back to food wastage and stories in our head to throw food or food like products out that don't serve you. People find it so hard to throw out a $3 chocolate bunny, because in their mind someone's paid for it and given it to them. Or they've paid for it, and given it to them. So rather than throw it out, they'll often eat it to get rid of it. So which is you know, when you say it out loud it's nuts, isn't it? I mean really, it's three bucks, particularly for people that then go and pay other people to lose weight. You're swapping your $3 chocolate egg for you know, some $200 consultation with a weight loss specialist. It's crazy.


Dr Mary Barson: False economy.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. Or we go and give it to somebody else. And again you can do that if you want to, but you know in my mind I just chuck it in the bin, where it can go. It's okay.


Dr Mary Barson: That's right, it's okay. There's more than one way to waste food. Just talking about reasonable stories in your head, many years ago, not now but many years ago, I would eat my daughter's chocolate. This is like when she was little enough to not notice. Certainly wouldn't get away with it nowadays, she's far too onto it. And how much chocolate she gets at Easter from other people is another topic that I won't go into. But I would eat it, because you know I'd have a bit and then it would wake up my sugar cravings and I was you know, I was, I certainly was a card-carrying member of the you know sugar addicts' society many years ago. And the story in my head which was totally reasonable was, “Well, if I need to eat this chocolate to save my toddler from eating it, because it's not good for her”, you know. Whereas you know, putting it in the bin would've been a far more logical solution.


Dr Lucy Burns: This is the reasonable stories, isn't it? “If I eat it then I'm saving them from eating it”.


Dr Mary Barson: Yep. “This is, this is a selfless maternal act”. No, no.


Dr Lucy Burns: I know. When really it was just a sneaky story to allow you to scoff it all, rather than chuck it out.


Dr Mary Barson: Get the dopamine hit, exactly.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah. One of the techniques that I know you talk a lot about which I think is beautiful, is the idea of mental rehearsal of your plan. Can you just tell us a bit more about that?


Dr Mary Barson: I love mental rehearsal. So this is a beautiful, simple, evidence-based technique that can very easily strengthen our resolve to follow a plan, no matter what our plan is. And so have a plan. That's it, you know go into your Easter with a plan. You know, you could have a little bit of the sugary food, none of the sugary food. “If I'm not gonna have any of the sugary food, I'm gonna bring my own. I'm gonna talk to the host beforehand, make sure there's food for me there, or I'm just going to go there and not eat”. Like whatever your plan is, have one and be clear on what it is, and then practice it. Mental rehearsal is a tool that the sporting world has known about for a long time that athletes use to enhance their performance. It's really powerful and we can do it too. So what mental health rehearsal looks like is, you know your plan, perhaps even write it down or just have it very clear in your mind and then the night before, maybe two nights before, you sit down. Good time to do it is just before bed when you're kind of nice and calm. Maybe sit on the corner of your bed, the edge of your bed. Take three slow deep breaths and then step by step, mentally rehearse what your plan is. So say your plan is to go to a family picnic and you're going to bring with you a low carb real food platter and when you get there, you're only going to eat low carb real food. Maybe only off your platter if that's what available, or pick around what else is available. You know what you're going to drink and also you know what you're going to say when someone says, “Here, have this Cadbury white chocolate bunny”. You're going to say something like, “Oh, no thanks. Just it doesn't agree with me”. Or you might take the bunny and know that you're gonna chuck it out later. You have a plan when somebody offers you a beer and maybe you don't want to drink beer. You just say, “Oh, no thanks. Beer doesn't agree with me. Or, no thanks. I'm not drinking today”. You have a plan. And then so know what your plan is, and the night before, you're sitting on the edge of your bed and you step by step mentally rehearse the plan. It'll only take a few minutes because you can do it you know on fast forward replay in your brain. You see yourself making the platter. You see yourself covering it in Glad wrap and taking it with you to your event. You see yourself getting to the event, putting your platter down. You see yourself having those little conversations and warding off the people who might want to pressure you to eat the high carb food, or the inflammatory food. You see yourself eating the low carb real food. You see yourself enjoying the day, chatting to your friends, chatting to your family. You see yourself coming home having achieved your goal, having followed through with your plan and feeling wonderful. And you allow that wonderful sense of achievement and pride at having stuck to your plan to flow through you. And you might do that another three times and then you can go to bed. And that is mental rehearsal. And no matter what your plan is, you can use this tool so that you've already won before you started. You're much less likely to be flummoxed when you get to the event, when you're surrounded by the environment that has the high carb food, the chocolate, the hot cross buns, the alcohol, and you win before you even start.


Dr Lucy Burns: It's so powerful that technique, and you know there's a little addition that I would make for some people. There are some people out there in our community who are not good at visualising. So some people's brains don't give them mental pictures. Mine is very visual. So if you're one of those people, you can still do mental rehearsal, you just write down your plan. So you write down, again it's just step by step, what are you going to do? And as you do, doesn't have to be in your bestest writing, just be on somewhere, but at least you've written it. You've put those thoughts into your brain about what your plan is.


Dr Mary Barson: And it's so empowering. So you can go from a sense of sort of fear, impending doom or panic, to one of empowerment. And the final thing Lucy that I reckon we should discuss is beware the perfectionism.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yes. So this is what happens when you've decided, maybe you've made a plan that you're not going to, you're just going to eat low carb. You're not going to indulge in any of those foods. But then something happens. You know, there was a moment that you weren't prepared and you, you did. You ate you know, an egg or something. And then the story in our head for so many of us goes like this: “Oh, bugger. I've stuffed it up. I've ruined it. Oh, well. What'll I do? I'll start tomorrow”. And as soon as we say, “I'll start tomorrow”, that's like a gate opens in our brain to eat everything in sight because we're starting tomorrow. And it's going to be perfect tomorrow, because today wasn't perfect. So you know, it's like this little, it's this weird little story that goes “Oh, I'm off the hook. I don't have to be perfect today so I'm gonna eat everything. Because tomorrow I'm going to be perfect.


Dr Mary Barson: Yes. Beware that all or nothing thinking, it's a really common trap that our brains get caught in and it's not true.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. Lovely listeners, I think that that is probably all we need to talk about today. There is probably one other tool, just one last tool that we haven't talked about that is really helpful to many of our followers and many of our members, and that is hypnotherapy. And we are going to be talking about that further into the future, but we do have a program that if anybody was interested in, it's a 31-day hypnosis by Mary and myself really looking at the subconscious brain and the stories that are in there that you may not even be aware, in fact you're not aware of them because they're subconscious, they're not in your conscious brain. But hypnotherapy is a beautiful tool that talks to your subconscious brain, and there's certainly plenty in there that would help you navigate difficult situations like Christmas, like Easter, like weddings, like birthdays, that sort of thing. So again, we'll link that in the show notes and we will see you all again next week.


Dr Mary Barson: Bye bye, beautiful people.


Dr Mary Barson: And I'm Dr Mary Barson. We're from Real Life Medicine. To contact us please visit https://www.rlmedicine.com


Dr Lucy Burns: And until next time, thanks for listening. The information shared on the real health and weight loss podcast, including show notes and links provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.

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