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Chocolate On My Mind: Release Your Chocolate Cravings

Sugar. Our relationship goes way back. Growing up, I had to sneak around to eat it. My dad didn't allow us to eat candy. So at school is where my friends would share their Lemonheads, Airheads, and my favorite Redhots. Chocolate wasn't my thing, other than M&M's, because Hershey's bars seemed too plain. And I definitely, didn't like cheap waxy, stuffed chocolates. It wasn't until college I met "good" chocolate like Godiva. And my sugar game changed. Chocolate and chocolate desserts became my go-to "treat" when I was feeling stressed.

Honestly, I didn't see a problem with this pattern until after the birth of my son. That's when my unhealthy relationship with sugar started to weigh on me. I struggled with my weight after the hormonal shifts of pregnancy. My perfectionism and lack of stress coping skills triggered my emotional eating, which didn't help the weight come off. While I've made many changes on my weight and wellness journey, changing my relationship with sugar-especially chocolate- is one of my most significant changes.

Today I want to discuss the benefits of changing your relationship with chocolate. I contributed to the Eat This Not That article "7 Incredible Benefits of Giving Up Chocolate for A Month." Here are my thoughts:

Chocolate is physically and emotionally satisfying, so we tend to crave it. Chocolate lovers will say all chocolate is equally delicious. But, from a health perspective, not all chocolate is equal —the fat and sugar content in different chocolate preparations. So, if you're considering giving up chocolate, the benefits you get will be determined by what type of chocolate you give up. Since milk chocolate has the highest sugar and saturated fat levels, let's discuss the body-mind-spirit benefits of giving up milk chocolate.

Body Benefits:

Decrease your sugar intake: There are links between high sugar consumption and

inflammation. Specifically, many diseases, including insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, fatty liver disease, obesity, heart disease, and more, are linked to high sugar intake.

You may not be able to immediately reverse the harmful effects of eating high amounts of sugar. However, decreasing the amount of sugar you eat is helpful. You could start by switching from milk chocolate to chocolate with a higher cocoa percentage, like dark chocolate. Ultimately you may want to switch to using more cacao than cocoa. What's the difference between cacao and cocoa?

Cacao is the less processed or "raw" form of cocoa.

Since cacao is less processed, it's higher in antioxidants. Cacao is considered a superfood by some sources. But it's also not as sweet as cocoa. The taste takes getting used to, especially the nibs. Getting used to the taste is worthwhile because cacao helps cut chocolate cravings.

Improved sleep: I work with many people who consume chocolate in the evening. Chocolate can interfere with your sleep due to caffeine and high-fat levels. Giving up chocolate in the evening can improve your sleep. It may even optimize your metabolism since your metabolism resets overnight.

Weight loss: Reducing extra energy intake (aka calories) by not eating chocolate can help you lose weight. This energy deficit can benefit you if you are on a Weight loss Journey.

Mind-Spirit Benefits:

Increased emotional awareness: As a former emotional eater, I know firsthand that eating

chocolate is an easy way to soothe uncomfortable emotions. Sometimes I have chocolate fasts, such as during January, Daniel Fast, or Lent.

When I give up chocolate, I must "feel my feelings." This emotional awareness helped improve by mindful eating.

As a spiritual person, I also felt a greater connection to God and clarity when I wasn't using food to soothe my feelings.

This "smothering" of emotions with food is a typical pattern I see with other emotional eaters I work with on their weight & wellness journey. "

Embrace You Reflection

Everyone's relationship with food is different. I hope sharing my journey is helpful as you explore your relationship with food. Specifically, answer these questions:

  • Are you using food to soothe uncomfortable emotions?

  • Do you have non-food ways to cope with stress?

  • Is chocolate a treat or a must-eat? Meaning you feel like you have to have it.

Be sure to share your discoveries in the free Embrace You to Lasting Weight Loss & Wellness Facebook community. I've also shared a delicious chocolate craving-busting recipe: Creamy Cacao Tahini Spread using SoCo Tahini in the group.

Till next time, choose to embrace your life lighter in body, mind, & spirit.

Love-Dr. Sylvia, @EmbraceYouMD

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