What? Shouldn't I be writing about how to curb your chocolate cravings? Not necessarily. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is actually good for you as long as you don't overdo it. I spend a fair amount of time working in my home office, which is right off my kitchen. While that might not be a concern if you've never had an issue with food, emotional eating or your weight, the rest of you, like me, can understand how working in close proximity to a zillion food cues could be a problem. So here is what I do:
- I shop with a list and rarely buy the foods I know are like attractive nuisances; you know the ones that call your name while you're working on your computer, or procrastinating about something you “should” be doing.
- I preplan a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.
- I do not eat straight out of a package or jar. Instead, I have designated portion-controlled containers and dishes that I put the snack in. When I fisnish the snack, I have to make a consious decision to refill that container. Often times, that extra couple of seconds is enough to align my thoughts and actions with my vision of being healty and fit.
- I also preplan my lunch and often get it ready ahead of time, just as if I were taking to the office with me.
- If I bake any holiday cookies, I immediately freeze them in an opaque container and get them situated in the gift tins as soon as possible. This way they are earmarked for someone else and off-limits to me.
- If I get a craving for chocolate beyond the one-ounce serving of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate that I choose to include in my daily diet, I make Mexican hot chocolate, which not only curbs my appetite, it also satisfies my chocolate cravings for only 25 calories. See recipe below. It's for serious chocolate lovers only!
- Other ways I handle the hungry horrors during the day (or evening) is to sip on green tea or make a cup of broth with “Better Than Bouilion” base (10 calories). It comes in chicken, beef, mushroom, and vegetable and is available in most supermarkets. It's certified organic by Quality Assurance International. Not recommended if you are watching your sodium intake -Choose a reduced-sodium product instead.
Hot liquids, such as clear soups, tea, or my Mexican hot chocolate help fill you up and stave off cravings for other calorie-dense foods. Several months ago, the Journal of the American Dietetic Assosciation reported on a study that found when one consumes a bowl of soup before a meal, they are less hungry and consume fewer calories during the meal, including the calories from the soup.
Here is the Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe:
1Tbsp cocoa powder
1 packet Stevia
1-2 oz hot coffee ( I save some from my morning pot of coffee)
4 oz boiling water
1-2 oz skim milk
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Put cocoa in cup with Stevia. Add a little boiling water and make a smooth paste. Add in other liquids. Stir. Sprinkle with cinnamon. If needed, reheat for a few seconds in the microwave and enjoy.
Chocolate Health Facts:
Chocolate contains a groups of phytochemicals (chemicals in plants that serve various functions such as keeping them healthy and free from damage from pests, etc.) called flavonoids. The particular flavonoids rich in DARK chocolate are antioxidants that protect your cells from free radicals. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that dark chocolate helped reduced oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. So it appears that dark chocolate, in moderation, is heart healthy. This doesn't mean eating a candy bar for lunch is the latest health craze. Rather, eating one or two portioned-controlled dark chocolate squares a few times per week and including other flavanoid-containing foods such as red wine, green or white tea, dark or brightly colored berries (such as blueberries and cranberries), apples, and onions. Speaking of red wine, my other favorite healthy indulgence, it contains a flavonoid and powerful antioxidant called reservatrol, known for its anti-aging effects. As always, use common sense and if you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation and BE SAFE.