How to Eat Chocolate 2.1
I was just going to write a post about chocolate and I remembered that there was one in my blog from a few years ago. Apparently, chocolate is something I think about.
I’m going to keep the blog below (version 1.1) but add this on top instead of keeping them separate. Here’s what’s new about chocolate:
- Yours truly used to, in the past, have a devastating, life-threatening addiction to chocolate, sugar, sweets, ice cream, cereal, cookies… and on and on. I learned that food is the only substance to which someone can have habitual or addictive behavior, but must be negotiated. In other words, you can live without gambling, heroin, cocaine, and other addictive substances. But you must figure out how to eat food. It took me a long time, but I managed to escape this risky behavior. (I wrote about this at length in Health Matters.)
- What works for me and might work for you is to have rules. I like the rule of no sweets during the day. I like the rule of a small piece of dark chocolate only after dinner, but otherwise no desserts, cookies, etc. during the day. The beauty of a rule is that you can decide on it once, and then practice it over and over. Rules are like handrails. They keep you on track. One more thing about rules: Watch your language. If you hear yourself saying, “I can’t eat that cookie in the middle of the day” because of one of your rules, upgrade that thought to “I don’t eat cookies in the middle of the day.” So empowering!
- I urge you to raise your standards. One of my clients told me yesterday that she really struggled with donuts. (See more about donuts below.) We went online to look up the ingredients of a popular, commercial brand of donuts. She was visibly grossed out. We agreed that she is better off not only eliminating donuts from her get-health, get-lean plan, and also to overcome the power that she gave donuts over herself. Some dark chocolate after dinner is completely different than binging on donuts or eating an entire box of sugary cereal. Not only is the food substance different, but also your state of mind and state of being, which are just as important. (Chances are when you are calm and mindful, you have reduced your risk dramatically and you are more apt to make good choices.)
The other night, about 3/4 of the way through dinner, I noticed a little uptick in anticipation of some dark chocolate. (I hadn’t thought about chocolate or sweets the entire day!) Maybe it was my brain, but I felt like I lit up knowing that some dark chocolate was up next after dinner. Since I used to live with a debilitating craving practically 24/7, reducing this down to a slight desire has no control over me and is completely manageable. I realize you may not be “there” yet with sugar and chocolate, but it is worth it to work on strategies for overcoming those crippling cravings. (I can help!) For me, and perhaps for you, it is the sheer joy of having a little dark chocolate with zero guilt, risk, fear, remorse, shame or anything like that. These negative feelings cancel out the enjoyment of something that tastes so yummy. This might be something you want to explore. It’s nice to enjoy a sweet treat while maintaining your sanity and your health and weight goals.
See below what I wrote a few years ago. This is your Chocolate Users Handbook for today and I hope you enjoy it. RB
You’ve heard it. Chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and may even support cognitive function. It has been associated with weight loss and increasing serotonin, thus stabling your mood. Chocolate is loaded with a variety of health-boosting micronutrients. In addition, one of the signposts of a healthy brain is something called neurovascular coupling . This has to do with blood flow to the brain, which is related to a reduced incidence of dementia and appears to be improved by eating chocolate.
Now that you know that chocolate is really good for you, let’s talk about how and when to eat it, and perhaps when not to eat it.
- Definitely stick with dark, not the white chocolate, or milk chocolate. Select 70% cocoa which contains healthy compounds called flavonoids. These have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Dark chocolate is also lower in saturated fat and sugar. As delicious as they are, candy coated chocolate and chocolate that contains extras like caramel and creamy centers (like M&M’s See’s) deliver more sugar and saturated fat than is good for you.
- You can have too much of a good thing. Look at the portion size on the wrapper. An excess of chocolate would negate the health benefits. The Cleveland Clinic recommends 1.5 to 3 ounces per day. But there is no clinical dosage. Well, except not to pig out on chocolate.
- Consider eating chocolate after nutritious food, rather than by itself. The presence of fiber and protein from veggies following a balanced meal will slow down the absorption of the sugar into your blood vessels. This will also prevent a cascade of insulin and a spike of blood glucose. In my family, we select semi-sweet chocolate with almonds for this very reason. We have tasted the most expensive chocolate from all over the world. We swear by the one pound dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s. It is incredibly economical and as good as any exotic chocolate that we have tried.
- Consider that there is caffeine in chocolate. If it keeps you up at night, you might want to limit your intake in the latter part of the day or evening. (Sleep is essential for your health and not to be compromised.)
- How about replacing other fat- and sugar-laden desserts with dark chocolate? Instead of that gooey cake, frosted donut, or buttery cookie, some dark chocolate is actually good for you.
Now that you know how to eat chocolate, from one chocolate lover to another, a sante .
With love and encouragement,
Check out Health Matters, 52 Ways to Get Your Body to Love You Back
Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
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