Yes, admittedly there are many reasons I could go on about why we eat chocolate to be happy. But in the following you won’t read about its anti-aging capabilities, or how it can help fight cancer. Neither will I tell you about the ancient native American relationship with the holy cacao bean that is being used in Shamanic ceremonies to connect to higher powers.
Today is the day you will walk away with liberation from all the nutritional restrictions being put on you all day long. You will no longer feel deprived and hence overcompensate, because you will know better.
Let’s start by analysing what it is that makes us feel bad about consuming chocolate.
For me personally, being lactose, fructose, galactose and polyols sensitive (which means I can pretty much eat…hm, bugger all!) chocolate is definitely a no go, even the yummy dairy-free Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt I love so much is off the list.
But most intolerances, as we all know, are called that because we cannot tolerate an excess of them.
If we’re allergic that’s a different story. But a tiny bit here or there is, even for me, irreplaceable. What really makes us feel bad is when we consume too much of it. That’s when we classify a type of food as bad.
Moderation is key, self control the secret
The mother of all evil is overindulgence.
I know it’s hard, after a long day of running around, getting the kids ready, having the house tidy and working through our busy schedule. All you want to do is switch off and reward yourself with a little delight.
Then we open a block of chocolate with the genuine intention of just having a bite and end up with the empty wrapper; that is when we feel bad. We feel bad, not only because we know the excess amount of calories will be showing on our hips, bellies and thighs the next day and we realise we don’t have time to go to the gym and work it off. But also because, once again, we lacked self control.
So how do we practice self control? By depriving and punishing ourselves for failing?
I used to allow myself to eat chocolate only on a Sunday night while watching TV with my partner at home, so what ended up happening was, I went out and bought masses of sweets, because…yes, I overcompensated. And hell, I felt like poop on Monday, and Tuesday and Wednesday…ever had a sugar hangover? It lasts for days!
Most of us don’t work well on deprivation. Instead, we can try eating a very moderate amount, knowing that we can have chocolate 3 nights in the week, but only one square. Taste that square with all your senses. And you’ll feel instant satisfaction. If not, don’t have it.
- How to get into the diet mindset
- What is your body worth to you?
- Find your morning happy in a bowl and forget the breakfast hoo ha!
The guilt of imperfection
We all have an ideal image of how we want to look, how we want to act, how we want to eat…and yet we don’t allow ourselves to take a slow approach to get there.
Most of the time we give up before we even depart on that journey.
What I see over and over again in my yogis is such an enthusiasm after the retreat to change habits and a deep desire for better health that it leads many people to strict obsession with everything they do, and then often when they don’t follow the “health rules” perfectly they beat themselves up and feel guilty. Sound familiar?
Not only is this guilt detrimental to our health, but habit science research shows that it causes people to give up on their attempts to improve and change their habits overall.
On the other hand, the research shows that people who make slow, gradual changes with some room for leeway actually stick to their health routines.
In the end, even if they didn’t go hardcore from the start, these people get healthier and happier and end up staying that way because the guilt of not being perfect doesn’t crush their motivation (or depress them).
Following the 80/20 rule
If you can commit to making whatever changes you are focussed on 5 out of 7 days of the week this will have a massive impact on your life.
What I’m saying is that the other two days of the week — when we eat chocolate or drink a glass of wine or stay up late—aren’t a mistake to feel guilty about. Rather, they are a conscious decision that is part of creating a sustainable health regime.
Knowing that we’re likely to give up completely if we don’t allow for this kind of leeway, means consciously allowing for those two days but committing to the others, is a real commitment to a healthy lifestyle — not just a fad diet or detox.
And when we make lifestyle changes things start to get really good in our body, mind and life.
So, I enjoy my chocolate 2 out of 7 days, in other words on occasion.
The key is remaining conscious about our actions. When I catch myself feeling like I need chocolate every day, or smashing a bar of chocolate without even really tasting it — that’s when I know there’s a problem that I need to work with.
We’re not using this as an excuse. We’re committing to our 5 out of 7 days, and being conscious about the other two. When those two days start to become 3 or 4, we need to reassess in all honesty with ourselves.
Have you ever noticed that when you are completely restricting yourself (i.e. never have chocolate or sugar ever again), and when you do finally crack and go for some (the inevitable), then you don’t eat it consciously with deep appreciation.
The restrictive mentality actually triggers my unhealthy eating habits.
Strict health rules can actually trigger bad habits. Whenever I start a 3 day juice cleanse I end up scoffing chocolate at the end of day one. Whereas when I take the 80/20 idea seriously, I become much more conscious of the how when and what.
Take your time to decide what changes you need to make to create space for a sustainable health routine so that your intentions for health and growth — whether about food, meditation, exercise or self-care are permanent.
Do you really want to be healthy? And if so, commit to sustainability, and let go of quick fix fads.
Now to the point…
And as a special treat, because we all love chocolate so much, here are our favourite healthy chocolate recipes: