“All you need is love. But a little chocolate every now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz
And it doesn’t really, does it? I like a bit of chocolate; not the family-sized bar of Cadburys Bubble that I used to eat each night to ‘drown’ my sorrows…but I do like a bit every now and again. And the silky smooth brown stuff can actually be enjoyed as part of healthy eating plan – in moderation. Now that word used to piss me right off! ‘Moderation’ – urgh! I didn’t want moderation, I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it. And so I had it…and ended up at 43st+! And if you want to be a plonker and play Russian roulette with your health, stuffing your face with chocolate, then go ahead…but beware!
Once I had sorted my head out and realised that chocolate would not solve all of my problems, I began to actually enjoy the taste of the dark stuff…the really dark stuff. I only ate cheap crappy sugar filled stuff that gave me a sense of comfort, quickly followed by a sense of guilt; then followed by diabetes! I hated the dark stuff. But I now adore the mini bars of 80% Green and Blacks…for 4 syns. And I can honestly say that that tiny bar satisfies my chocolate cravings nicely. There is nothing wrong with having a healthy relationship with chocolate, and it can actually be quite good for you.
Life without the joys of chocolate would be pretty naff! I love it when the new Hotel Chocolat brochure arrives in the post – although it does tend to coincide with the days that I could happily drive the forty-odd miles to their nearest store!
So what are the supposed health benefits that chocolate – yes, in moderation – can bring?
Chocolate makes you slim – yeah, right! Seriously though, although not the obvious choice for us ‘losers’, research suggests that eating the stuff in moderation (it’s that bloody word again!) can actually help keep us slim. The study, conducted by the University of California, tested the theory that, as chocolate is believed to increase your metabolism, these benefits may cancel out the calories consumed. The results suggested that chocolate may not only be calorie neutral; it can also help you to lose weight. The researchers discovered that adults who consumed chocolate frequently had a lower BMI than those who didn’t, despite them often eating more calories and not exercising more. Now although I struggle with this one – as I don’t reckon that any food can be calorie neutral…especially bloody chocolate – I can see the benefit in eating it. Imagine if you had to live without the taste of chocolate forever? Faddy diets and quick fixes often ban the lovely brown stuff…and what is it we eat when we fall off the wagon? Yep, chocolate! So I think that plans such as Slimming World – which encourage chocolate munching in moderation – really could help you slim…and stay slim.
Chocolate makes you smarter! Dark chocolate is rich in brain-boosting chemicals, called flavonoids, which can enhance your cognitive skills by inducing the creation of new neurons in the brain and improving their ability to form new memories, as well as improving blood flow to the brain. One study of adult women found that when given flavonoid-rich chocolate drinks, the blood flow to participants’ brains increased within two hours and they performed better on a complex mental task. Quite interesting really – perhaps I will test this theory before my next exam…as I am sure that I will have an exam at some point in time, given my love of learning!
Chocolate gives you energy. This seemed like a rather obvious statement when I read it! Chocolate is high in energy-boosting chemicals including theobromine (a stimulant found in many popular energy drinks) and caffeine. Furthermore, chocolate is a great source of magnesium and chromium, which both play a role in energy production. Have a few squares of chocolate in the afternoon or before a workout to help stay energised for longer. I don’t need telling twice…I do think that whatever Personal Trainer I end up with might be more likely to suggest a banana half an hour before a workout though!
Chocolate prevents wrinkles. Bring on the chocolate I say! While skin creams are great for keeping your skin looking more youthful (supposedly – if you believe the hype!) they can only do so much; to really keep the wrinkles at bay, you need to look to your diet…and stop spending money on stupid bloody creams! Antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, help to fight the free-radicals that can lead to wrinkles, and luckily there is an even tastier way to get your fill. Research has suggested that, when it comes to fighting free-radicals, chocolate could be even healthier than fruit! When tested and compared to juices from ‘superfruits’ such as blueberries and pomegranate, dark chocolate was found to be higher in antioxidants. Yay – another vote for my Green and Blacks…or the Hotel Chocolat Purists collection!
Chocolate slows down muscle ageing. This fact intrigued me! It may sound too good to be true, but scientists have discovered that small amounts of dark chocolate can improve your health in a similar way to exercise! Researchers from Wayne State University found that a plant compound (epicatechin) found in chocolate stimulated the same muscle response as vigorous exercise, which could help to slow down muscle ageing. I wouldn’t suggest sitting on the sofa with one of those muscle patch electric-shock machines and a four-pack of Mars bars…but a nice bit of dark chocolate after a workout might be a better reward than you thought!
Chocolate helps you live longer – Jeanne Louise Calment – the oldest verified human being to have ever lived – lived a grand total of 122 years and 164 days, and put her good health down to her regular chocolate consumption. Bless her! But there might be some scientific fact behind her claim…researchers have found that there may be some truth that chocolate can help you to live longer. Cocoa beans are packed with antioxidants which studies have found can help fight disease and cut your risk of heart disease – the biggest killer in the Western world. Indeed, US researchers published in the British Medical Journal believe that chocolate can lower your risk of heart disease by over a third.
Chocolate makes you happy…duh…really?! If you ever find yourself reaching for chocolate to ease a bad mood, it seems you could be onto something. Chocolate is known to be high in mood-boosting chemicals, and findings published in the scientific journal Nutritional Neuroscience have suggested that the food can even help reduce the symptoms of depression. The popular treat is not only high in magnesium, which can aid relaxation, but it contains anandamide, a neurotransmitter which can help to regulate mood, and phenylethylamine, which raises endorphin levels. Just stick with a mini bar though…a family-sized bar of Galaxy is likely to increase your guilt and destroy your self-esteem, regardless of the fact that there should be no guilt in eating chocolate. But we all know that in huge amounts it isn’t great for us. I was going to say that, thankfully, no-one has ever asked me, “when is it due!”…but then I remember my sweet little niece saying, “woah, you look like you’ve got a baby in there”…so be warned!
Today has been a good but busy day! We headed off early to put the electric fencing up in the ‘summer’ field so that the horses can stay out 24/7 – my other half cannot wait, as this means no mucking out or early morning stable chores! – but it took a lot longer than we thought. We were there for well over six hours. It was worth it though, as the horses were so excited to get out and eat grass for a change! They have been in a muddy, dusty field for such a long time now – and have been eating hay – that the grass is a luxury for them. My youngest was so excited that he almost took my Mum’s head off as he did a huge buck in excitement…his hooves whizzing past her head…I had warned her that they were likely to do that! So tonight is just going to be nice and quiet – he is watching the football and I will read.
Breakfast: Two Benefit bars (1 x HEB) and a banana.
Wow – I have eaten quite a lot today…it must have been all of the fresh air! It was all ‘on plan’ though…but just more than I would normally have! Brekkie was straightforward and lunch was leftovers – which tasted as delicious as last night. Dinner was a quick and simple concoction after a day at the stables. My Mum had taken some food to the stables today, but I managed to stick to just my own lunch and three Babybels…even though her food looked great. It was all Slimming World-friendly food, but I knew I didn’t need more after my lunch….progress! Snacks were a bit more than I should have – even though I can have up to 25 syns – I just love my crisps and so pushed my syns to 19.5 today.
Exercise: Just the horses…and I was directing more than doing, but I still walked about and helped too!
Thank you for reading my lovelies…I am enjoying this weekend so much and I hope you are all having fun too,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx