Chocolate Lovers, Take Heart

Jan 31, 2022
Healthy Eating
Healthy Relationship With Chocolate

As we enter the month of February, there is chatter about relationships, sweet treats, and heart health, so let’s wrap all three into today’s blog focus: your relationship with chocolate.

Why is this blog-worthy?

About 45-percent of women in the U.S. report that they have chocolate cravings, with an impressive 91-percent of female college students reporting regular cravings for it. Research shows that many women have feelings of guilt when eating it, or they fight the urge to eat it at all. A 2014 study showed that women who associated eating chocolate cake with celebration had more successful weight maintenance, while those who associated it with guilt were likely to encounter a number of problems including less success at long- and short-term weight maintenance, feelings of helplessness and loss of control, unhealthy eating behaviors, greater body image dissatisfaction, and reduced quality of life.

All that to say, it is worth considering how you feel about chocolate and to consider if there is room for improvement in your relationship. A key in reversing the negative effects of these chocolate cravings is to stop making it off-limits, and instead, work on how you think about it and how you eat it. Avoid guilt-inducing vocabulary like cheat-food or implying that you’re “bad” for eating chocolate (or any food!). There is a saying in the dietetics world that the only bad food is rotten or stolen food, or one that you have an allergy to (if you’re an otherwise healthy individual).

Having a healthy relationship with and outlook on all foods is important for your mental and physical health. But beginning or creating a balanced relationship with dark chocolate, in particular, may have a significantly positive impact on your overall health. Research indicates that the higher the cocoa content, the more beneficial flavonols the chocolate contains. Most of the benefits seen in research are associated with chocolate that has at least a 70% cacao content. And with focus on heart health this month, having a healthy relationship with dark chocolate is a fun focus. Why? The antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of clotting and increase blood circulation to the heart, thus lowering the risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, and death from heart disease.

So what can you do?

First, be mindful when you’re eating it. Don’t sit down to a big bowl of chocolate and multitask while working or watching TV; Instead, savor and enjoy a portion, like 1 oz of dark chocolate when a sweet craving strikes, and limit the multitasking. I encourage participants to eat a sweet treat or a dessert after a meal instead of when they are ravenous for a meal or snack, as it is easier to overeat it in that scenario. If you’ve been eating well and with appropriate frequencies, savoring a piece of chocolate can be enough to quell a sweet tooth or craving.

Feeling like you’re out of control around chocolate? Our Registered Dietitians are eager to help increase your confidence and enjoyment around chocolate (and other sweets!). You might be surprised at how such a small focus could have a big impact on your mental and physical health.  

Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!

– Keeley Mezzancello, MS, RD, LDN, CHWC

Health Advisor, Registered Dietitian | Email Keeley

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