Chocolate. I love it, need it, can’t be without it! But how to eat chocolate guilt free?
Chocolate has the power to make you feel guilty. It can also nourish your body, give you an extra boost of energy and has antioxidants. So where to draw the line?
Guilt-free chocolate for health?
The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa. At least it should be because that’s what makes chocolate, the real thing. Cocoa contains magnesium, manganese, iron, some zinc, potassium and calcium. It’s rich in polyphenols which help your blood vessels dilate so your blood flows smoothly to your legs, heart and to your brain.
While cocoa can be good for your blood flow, it can potentially give you break outs on your skin. (study) Especially if you happen to be prone to acne, you should avoid even treats made from pure cocoa powder. (study)
Any chocolate lover will confirm that you can get hooked very quickly.
And to be honest it’s not only the addictive effect of combining sugar and fat which gives you so much pleasure. It’s also the chemical composition of the cocoa powder which makes it so hard to stay in control.
Cocoa powder naturally contains caffeine, theobromine (similar to caffeine) and phenyl ethylamine (amphetamine like chemical) which may be one of the reasons why chocolate can be triggering migraines in some people.
Then when you also add the effect of sugar and fat, it’s no wonder chocolate has such a strong pull and you easily find yourself torn between having just one and finishing a few bars in one sitting.
How to eat chocolate guilt free
Stage 1: Start where you are at
As with everything you need to know where you are at in order to improve your health and get in control of eating chocolate.
If you are hooked and don’t feel right when you skip a daily dose of a chocolate bar, try to replace it with a healthier version. Swap milky bars for some dark chocolate.
The higher the cocoa content, the more antioxidants and more ‘buzz’ it has. As you get to the levels of 65% – 80%, you’ll find it becomes more bitter. Your taste buds will adjust however, so just be patient.
Reading labels is important though. Manufacturers often add lot of sugar to mask the natural bitterness of coco powder. Here is an example of a better-quality chocolate you can find in a store. Always make sure to check the added sugar on a label and try to stick to no more than (or around) 25 gr of sugar in 100gr chocolate bar. (1/4 of a bar equals sugar)
Stage 2: As close to nature as possible
When milky and sugar loaded chocolate bars become history, it’s time to take another step. See if you could move as close to nature as possible and create your own cocoa powder-based treats to satisfy your love for chocolate.
In this way you’ll control the sweetness and richness of treats avoiding unnecessary calories. Especially if you can share these with your family, it’s also a great way to portion control ????
By using coco (cocoa) powder, combining it with dates for sweetness and some nuts for healthy fats, you turn a dessert into a super-nourishing snack. Plus by making your own, you are being mindful and more present – another good thing when watching your waist line and health.
It doesn’t need to take too much time either!
See some quick coco fixes to satisfy sweet tooth:
- Add cocoa powder or raw cocoa nibs to your porridge/ grain bowl (to counteract the bitter flavour add a banana, pears or some other fruit)
- Make coco coated truffles
- Make a hot chocolate from plant milk and coco powder
- Chop up banana, cover it with soy yogurt and sprinkle with cocoa powder
- For a nutritious dip process cocoa powder with cannellini beans, dates and walnuts (recipe)
- Add cocoa powder to smoothies
Stage 3: Set yourself free
This is not a popular solution, I know. But incredibly liberating! The addictive nature of chocolate (sugar, fat, caffeine) has the power to grow on you. Without even realising you easily start increasing your dose. And from making a healthy coco treat once per week it becomes twice per week and before you know it, it’s every day. Especially if you have a sweet tooth and are susceptible to binging or getting “addicted” to certain foods.
As a chocoholic myself, I linger between stages 2 & 3 and every time I manage to free myself from coco treats, I feel so much calmer and happier. I feel I become my true self. My family feels the benefits too as my patience with everybody is suddenly so much greater ????
And I wish you had the chance to feel this for yourself.
Especially if you are a naturally anxious person, worry a lot or are short-tempered. Moving away from stimulants like chocolate and cocoa powder will bring you peace and calm your world down. So it’s really worth giving it a try.
Whether you choose to start reducing the amount of coco treats at first, skipping days or just cut it out cold turkey, it comes down to your personality, experience so far and frankly to your daily schedule.
But I’ll talk about this in another post to come…
Cheers to you and a happy way of living ????