Easter without chocolate?
Somewhere along the way, Easter has become a chocolate festival, and Taupō general practitioner Glen Davies has teamed up with health coach Jaala Dyer to refocus Easter back on family time and healthy eating.
"Food is very much an important centrepiece at Easter, but somewhere along the way, we have lost sight of what is important and a chocolate-lovers' holiday has taken hold," said Davies.
"Giant, branded Easter eggs dominate supermarket shelves for months ahead of the Easter holiday."
When one small creme egg contains the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar, Davies says, Easter is certainly not a holiday for those trying to reduce their dietary sugar and carbohydrates.
Leading the charge in reversing type two diabetes in the Taupō community, Davies says there are many reasons to avoid overloading your diet with sugar.
"Sugar makes us hungry. Refined carbohydrates make us fat by increasing the fat-storage hormone insulin. We now understand the science of weight loss and the science of diabetes prevention and reversal. We need to avoid, as much as possible, sugar and white carbs such as Easter eggs and hot cross buns for the sake of our metabolic health."
Asking patients to lose weight is a tall order. A few years ago Davies helped set up support group Reverse Type Two Diabetes Taupo, and to offer his patients more help.
He has now teamed up with health coach Jaala Dyer to provide a one-on-one counselling service.
"The combination works really well. Doctors don't have a lot of time to talk to their patient about the mechanics of losing weight, so a coach can focus on forming new habits, changing old ways," said Jaala.
She says Easter can be seen as a challenging time for those following a low-carbohydrate or a keto diet.
"But chocolate can still very much be on the menu. The secret is to choose unsweetened chocolate, or cocoa. Look for dark chocolate, over 80 per cent cocoa, the darker the better."
Getting used to the taste of dark chocolate can be a challenge, but he says most people get used to it really quickly.
"Then the next time you eat the 'fake chocolate' it will taste overly sweet and strange, not like real chocolate."
Jaala says a big habit-changing tip is to swap things out. Psychologically this is the best way to break a habit, rather than simply banning something.
"With Easter, the focus is on tradition, and we say the tradition used to be a giant Easter egg and then ask what could the new tradition be?"
Pointing to a new trend of gifting pajamas at Easter, Jaala says this is a fun thing to do, especially with children, and makes a great family memory.
Other gift ideas are painting hard-boiled eggs, or daffodil bulbs wrapped in tin foil. She says once people get the hang of it, they get really creative with their gift ideas.
Since 2018 Davies has been recommending a whole-food, low-carbohydrate diet to patients with diabetes and prediabetes and says he has seen remarkable changes.
"I now understand the reason for type two diabetes is the high consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrate. This is so evident I want to rename type two diabetes 'processed food disease'."
In the past three years, 115 Taupō patients with diabetes and prediabetes have reversed their condition and come off their medication, with the exception of Metformin in some instances.
"I have done some quick maths on this. Assuming all the prediabetics were to otherwise become diabetic, this is one million dollars saved, and it has cost $0 to achieve this. Not an extra cent. If one general practitioner and some dedicated volunteers can do this we should be looking to replicate this method."
Reverse T2 Diabetes Taupō is running its next beginner meeting on Wednesday, April 7, 5.30pm at Suncourt Hotel. This is a free meeting for anyone wanting to learn about low carb and keto nutrition. Beginner meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month to cover the basics. All welcome.