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Confessions of a Chocoholic

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“Are you going to tell the diet police, or are you going to retain your right to remain silent?” That was the question posed by my boyfriend after I stepped off the scale this week and announced the result.

I gained a kilo!

Don’t get me wrong; this didn’t come as a surprise! I have no disillusions as to how it happened. In fact, I can think of a number of reasons – the chocolate and banana milkshake shared with colleagues after school, the packet of Whispers that was just lying there, the second packet of Whispers that was sought out and not to mention the copious amounts of “thank-you” chocolates I received from teachers. Each and every “cheat” was justified in my mind. “I deserve this!” or “I’ve been so good up to now, what’s one more _______________?” The problem was not “one more _____________” the problem was that it was really “5 more ___________”, but at the time, I was not thinking that.

So what have I learnt? Don’t use food as a reward! If you think about it, we’ve been conditioned to see food as a reward from an early age. From the mother who is trying to get her child to eat all their supper in exchange for dessert and the doctor who gives the child a lollipop for being a “brave boy/girl”, right up to colleagues buying chocolates as thank yous. I’m guilty of it myself! Just last week I gave a group of girls in my science class each a packet of Whispers for coming first in the quiz (hence the extra packet of Whispers lying around). This is not a novel idea. When I did a simple Google search, I found numerous studies and research that has been done into the topic. Bottom line: using food as a reward perpetuates a bad psychological cycle.

So this week I’m going to try and avoid using food as a reward. I might have the odd “nice-to-have” (remember the balance) but it’s going to be just that, a nice-to-have, not a reward. Instead of the reward, I’m going to focus on how far I’ve come and how good I feel and try to take that as reward in itself.

Happy moving and munching!

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Diet chocolate

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Picture, if you will, a world without chocolate.

It’s not something any of us want to do! And why would we, when there are so many reasons why we crave it in the first place?! Scientists have linked chocolate to increased serotonin levels (our pleasure producing neurotransmitter) and stress relief. Not only that, but women are apparently programmed to crave it, especially during “that time of the month”. We don’t stand a chance in the fight to cut it out of our lives! And studies say we shouldn’t (fight that is)! By telling ourselves we can’t have it, we only start wanting it more! Most of us want the things we can’t or don’t have… People with straight hair want curly, while those with curly want straight. White people tan to make their skin darker, people with dark skin use creams to make their skin lighter. Blondes dye their hair to go brunette, brunettes use peroxide to go blonde… It’s never ending!

Why should we cut it out anyway? After all, isn’t it healthy? Yes! Yes, it is! I’m not talking about the chocolate bars you find at the tills in Pick ‘n Pay, the Inside Stories and the Bar Ones and the like. No, I’m talking about the real deal. The genuine article. The real McCoy. Chocolate in it’s closest to pure form. Dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) is actually quite good for you!

In an American study that measures the ORAC value (or anti-oxidant capacity) of foods, dark chocolate scores 5 times higher than blueberries! This means that chocolate is better at reducing free-radical damage and thus slowing the effects of aging, and age related illnesses and reducing blood pressure! What’s more is that 75% of the fats found in cocoa butter (the main source of fat in chocolate) are actually thought to lower cholesterol!

Am I suggesting that you eat a chocolate bar everyday? No. Sorry. There are still things in chocolate that are not good for you, like sugar and caffeine. All I’m saying is that one or two blocks of good quality dark chocolate every now and then, is not the end of the world and might actually be good for you. Not only are you not denying yourself chocolate (reducing the “want what you can’t have” craving) but you’re also providing your body with good anti-oxidants and fats. Just remember, the darker the chocolate, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less space there is for the undesirables (like sugar, and the other fats).

If you really want to be good, and cut out the sugar, I suggest looking in the sugar replacement section of your local grocery store. Here you’ll find a multitude of things from 8cal per serving jelly, to sugar free chocolate and chocolate mousse. Just remember that artificial sweeteners can be bad for you for a whole different reason… But that’s a different story for a different day. Just don’t think that because it doesn’t have sugar in, it can’t be bad for you.

Bottom line: enjoy chocolate in moderation… But we knew that 🙂

Happy moving and munching!