diets · eating · eating disorders · sports nutrition

Chocolate: A yummy delicious treat

I’ve had a bag of these in the house for awhile as my go to treat in lieu of dessert. They’re delicious.

Unlike Tracy, I haven’t broken up with chocolate.

But while the chocolates are often the yummiest part of my day, chocolates are not necessarily the healthiest thing I could eat. That’s fine by me. I didn’t choose them for health reasons. I was looking for the yum. They’re a treat

Chocolate isn’t evil but it’s not exactly a health food ether. Here’s the nutritional facts.

So these are an occasional treat, not a health food. I don’t eat them as meals. They’re pleasure. An indulgence.

Maybe that’s a bit fast. Isn’t it dark chocolate supposed to be good for all that ails you? I have friends who eat dark chocolate to help with the common cold. Others who swear it helps with arthritis.

Is it really good for you? The Guardian weighs in this week.

They talk about the rebranding of chocolate as a health food and how that occurred.

“Recent years have seen chocolate undergo another transformation, this time at the hands of branding experts. Sales of milk chocolate are stagnating as consumers become more health-conscious. Manufacturers have responded with a growing range of premium products promoted with such words as organic, natural, cacao-rich and single-origin. The packets don’t say so, but the message we’re supposed to swallow is clear: this new, improved chocolate, especially if it is dark, is good for your health. Many people have swallowed the idea that it’s a “superfood”. Except it isn’t. So how has this magic trick-like metamorphosis been achieved?”

So chocolate is supposed to help with blood pressure, dementia, stroke risk and the common cold but the problem is the quality of the research which is almost all funded by the chocolate industry. Go read the Guardian story for details.

James Fell in his anti dark chocolate rant gets it right, I think.

…If you’re buying into the health washing while rationing nibbles as your reward for sticking to a soul-destroying diet, just stop. Eat a mostly healthy diet, and then when you feel like eating chocolate, you eat the shit out of it. None of this “I’ll just have a square of dark chocolate now and then” bullshit. Get some fucking Turtles, or a Caramilk bar, or a Crispy Crunch, or one of those triangle shaped Toblerone things. Get a Jersey Milk and dip that sucker in the Skippy peanut butter and say, “Mmmm … G-M-Oh-my-God-that-tastes-good.” Eat your favorite chocolate and LIVE, DAMMIT!

Want to know more about chocolate? There’s a talk on the chemistry and physics of chocolate by the University of Guelph’s Prof. Alejandro Marangoni in Waterloo, Ont., by the Royal Canadian Institute for Science on April 18.

Enjoy the talk and the occasional chocolate. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s a health food. Or worse, don’t eat dark chocolate in a medicinal manner not enjoying it at all.


Dear Chocolate, I Don’t Love You Anymore

Squares of dark chocolate piled haphazardly on top of one another.
Squares of dark chocolate piled haphazardly on top of one another.

Dear Chocolate,

There’s no easy way for me to put this: I just don’t love you anymore. It’s nothing that you did. Not at all.

We used to spend a lot of time together.  I used to get together with you every day. You had that special place in the kitchen, handy, accessible, always there for me. I could feel my mouth watering when I pulled back that gold wrapper on the 70% cocoa dark chocolate bar at the back of the snack drawer.

When the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating lesson a couple of months ago suggested that you might be a “red light food,” I defended you (and still do — you’re definitely not something I would banish from my life).  I said I needed you and felt comfortable with the amount of time we spent together. As you know, I believe food is beyond good and evil.

I didn’t even notice that we were drifting apart. But it kind of happened like this.  The Lean Eating program started nudging me in the direction of what they call “healthy habits.”  Lots of them had to do with making sure I was including things in every meal–lean protein, veggies, smart carbs (like quinoa and steel cut oatmeal).

They also recommended that I eat slowly and that I stop when I was 80% full.  The theory was that in time, if I followed these habits, I’d experience “food displacement.”  What that means, roughly, is that trying to fit in all the healthy habits every time I ate would change the sorts of things that I turned to regularly.

I could tack you on to the end of a meal, but usually by then I’m already 80% full (that’s my most challenging habit).  Stand-alone snacks without greens or protein just aren’t a big part of my repertoire anymore.  And in that late-afternoon slump I feel better if I have a mixed greens salad with tofu or chickpeas than a few squares of dark chocolate (sorry).

I didn’t consciously seek to send you to the sidelines.  Remember how the triple chocolate cake at Veg Out used to be my absolute favorite thing on their menu?  Well, the other night I went there and didn’t even order dessert (not even to go, which is what I did in the early days of eating to 80% full–just packed up a piece of cake to eat later). Why not? I just knew I wouldn’t get around to eating it.

I feel a little bit sad that we’ve parted ways in such a low-drama kind of way. Like I said, you’ve not been banished.  I’ve just found other things that make me happier these days.  I had no idea food displacement could have this affect on our relationship.  Not that I would have done anything differently, mind you.

I’m kind of relieved that I can easily get through a day, a week, a month without feeling that hold you used to have over me, especially after a meal.   It’s nothing personal and I have nothing against you.  I just don’t need you as much as I thought I did. Thanks for being there for all those years.  I’ll keep in touch but it’s just not going to be the same anymore.

Take care of yourself. I know that lots of people still love you as much as I once did.