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Image by Annie Spratt


Food Fabulous

Notes from midlife

Should I stop eating chocolate?


There's barely been a word loaded with as many emotional triggers for anyone wanting to reach their happy weight.

Right there you have: do I like it, which one do I like; should I be having it; how much chocolate am I allowed to have; can I eat chocolate and still lose weight; which chocolate bars have the fewest calories; I had chocolate yesterday; it is wrong to have chocolate today. I whole lot of chatter in your head, right?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with chocolate - even when you want to lose weight.

For many people, chocolate is the ultimate comfort food, a guilty pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with it occasionally coming into a balanced diet but the reality is that a great number of clients, when they first come to work with me, are not eating a balanced diet. Too often chocolate is used as a pick-me-up because their energy levels are low (and, I’m so sorry to tell you that chocolate is absolutely not going to help with this in the long run) or, perhaps more frequently, as a way of relieving stress or steadying the emotional ship when things aren’t going well.

Chocolate and weight loss

If you want to lose weight, eating the kind of chocolate that most people reach for (the high sugar milk chocolate-based bars) is not doing you any favours. It will spike your blood sugar levels and cause your body to release high levels of insulin to help manage that sugar rush. Since insulin is the fat-storage hormone that has the added downside of blocking fat burning.

Chocolate makes you happy

But, you say, chocolate makes me happy. It is like a hug you can eat…

Though chocolate has a popular reputation for making you happier, the harsh truth is the jury is out on its mood-boosting effects. Although chocolate contains several compounds with mood-lifting benefits (phenylethylamine, one of the chemicals your brain produces as you fall in love, and tryptophan, an amino acid linked to the production of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin), these are present in relatively small quantities and some scientists believe they are almost entirely digested before they reach the brain.

Instead, it’s more likely that eating chocolate simply satisfies a food craving rather than being chemically responsible for ‘happy feelings’.

Should you stop eating chocolate?

It depends on what your health goals are. Clients often claim that they will miss chocolate but find that, once they move to a diet that balances their blood sugar levels, their cravings for chocolate completely disappear.

While you’re working on that, here’s a ridiculously simple tip that makes avoiding snacks like chocolate much easier.

Don’t have chocolate (or other snack foods) in the house

You already know this works. Think of the Christmas or Easter chocolates. Most people eat them just because they are there. If you actually had to leave the house to seek them out, you likely wouldn’t.

But, you argue, I must keep chocolate biscuits and such for the kids. Plenty of clients fall into this trap before they work with me, buying unhealthy snacks then trying (and failing) to not eat them or to at least moderate their consumption.

I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but those chocolates aren’t doing your children’s health any favours either. If you must buy them something, choose something they like but you can’t stand. A friend of mine does this successfully with orange chocolate. Her children would gladly fill their boots but she wouldn’t dream of eating it.

I’m not saying you should never indulge in chocolate treats if you enjoy them. My message is that you should do it mindfully, taking your time to savour the moment rather than quickly scoffing a bar of chocolate because you were bored, because it was there or after a tricky day at work.

What I am not saying is 'don't have chocolate'. What I am saying is I think you can do without the constant chatter in your head about whether you should or shouldn't that comes with feeling out of control around food. I know it's not a fun place to be. If it's ruling your life, I'd love to help you fix that.

I am a weight loss and female health nutritionist and I help women reach their happy weight, fix their wonky relationship with food and learn to feel great in the skin they're in. My programmes combine the science of what to eat for your unique circumstances (your health goals, your lifestyle, what you love or hate) with accountability, support and motivational coaching to help you put these changes into action in your actual life. If this is what you need right now, I warmly invite you to book a free call weight loss strategy call with me to start your transformation today. You can do that by clicking HERE.

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