THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE FIX Feb. 2009
I admit it: I’m a chocoholic. I absolutely love the stuff, and eat it every day. Smooth and dark, chocolate melts in your mouth and tastes absolutely divine. There’s no other food as good—at least in my opinion.
Except that now I’m eating the “hard stuff”—raw chocolate, with absolutely NO sugar. And it doesn’t exactly melt in my mouth—not like the dark chocolate candy bars I savored in the past. In fact, when I first tasted it, I wouldn’t have even known it was chocolate.
Why the switch, you ask? The answer is for health reasons. And vanity, I guess.
I used to think I was doing so well eating only a small amount of dark chocolate each day. Before I started eating the lowcarb or “controlled-carb” Somersize way beginning in 2001, I was addicted to cookies and other sweets, so eliminating high-sugar and refined carbs from my diet for the past eight years has been a major feat. And I had great success, too—losing most of what I wanted (50 pounds) within the first six months. From what I learned and experienced, fat doesn’t make you fat, it is sugar, which raises your insulin level causing fat to be stored. I ate all the fat I wanted, and the pounds melted away.
After reaching my goal weight, I began to indulge in my favorite treat, secure in knowing that dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate and of course no white flour. I always liked dark chocolate better, anyway. Compared to how I used to eat, I thought this small amount, about two ounces, wouldn’t make a difference in my weight. And it didn’t, for several years.
But then I got into my 50s and my figure went to pot. I can still wear the same tops, but I can’t even get into the zip-up jeans I wore in my 2001 after photo (and I had lost about ten more pounds after that was taken! I also wore those jeans years ago when I used to eat cookies, ice cream, Pop-Tarts and white bread every day!). I also can’t get the skirt buttoned that I wore in 2005 (in the infamous sitting-on-the-floor picture). That was upsetting enough, but then last summer I was all dressed up in some formal group photos and was appalled when I saw them. I looked like a lumpy, dumpy tub! Even my family was stunned. They assured me I don’t look that bad in person, but the camera can’t lie that much. The only saving grace was that I didn’t have a double chin.
By this time I had graduated from 72% to 86% chocolate, too! The higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sugar, so I thought I was doing even better. I wished I could find something even higher, like 95%. But other than baking chocolate I didn’t have any luck. So last fall I resigned myself to trying to cut back, going down to only one ounce or less of the 86% bars. I craved this food every day like clockwork. I couldn’t concentrate until I had it. But it was so frustrating, thinking that even a small amount could be making me balloon up, when I used to stuff my face with cake, chocolate shakes, plates full of Minute Rice, etc. in order to gain weight. Of course, I couldn’t be sure that only the chocolate was to blame; just getting older can cause middle-age spread. But cutting out even more sugar sure couldn’t hurt.
Just as I was trying to get used to an even tinier amount of my treat each day, and feeling very deprived while doing so, my younger son, a health nut, told me about a company called Natural Zing that sells raw chocolate, or organic cacao. Described as “super food of the goddesses”, the raw cacao bean is packed with antioxidants and contains a wide array of unique properties and minerals, including high levels of sulfur and magnesium, which may increase your focus, alertness, and happiness, the company says. I thought Wow! This is what I have been looking for! Satisfying my chocolate fix in a totally healthy way, with no sugar whatsoever! I ordered a bag right away, deciding to try the cacao “nibs” or peeled, crushed beans.
It was late November that I tried my first serving, about a teaspoon full. It didn’t taste much like anything to me. The little beans were hard and totally not sweet, and I definitely did not feel any kind of endomorphins or bliss or ecstasy, even though the bag clearly cautioned about such feelings. “Warning!” it said. “Eating cacao may cause you to have an incredible day!” But I was determined to stick it out.
Since then I have been eating about a tablespoon of these nibs a day, forgoing my beloved dark chocolate bars completely. I never experienced the shakes or any kind of withdrawal symptoms. But my feelings are still mixed about this product. On the one hand I feel this must be much healthier, but on the other hand I miss my candy bars! Even though they were dark, dark chocolate, that extra sugar makes a huge difference in the taste and texture. And since I don’t feel any differently after consuming the nibs, now I’m even thinking that maybe rather than chocolate bliss, what I really craved was a sugar rush! But chocolate is just SO GOOD. And there are studies which show that some people crave it every day because they have certain colonies of bacteria living in their digestive system which causes this desire. So maybe it’s not my fault—it’s my bacteria!
Has switching to raw chocolate helped my figure at all? I don’t know…I don’t know…I don’t know. Maybe a little, but probably not. But I can’t be sure. It depends on the time of day, the time of month, which way the wind is blowing. I haven’t weighed or measured myself for years—I don’t want to make myself crazy if I go up in pounds or inches. All I know is how my clothes fit and how I feel (and how pictures turn out). I’m still too chicken to even try my old jeans or skirt again. But I can’t see going back to my chocolate bars. Even the 86% would probably taste too sweet to me now, after being away from them. But they were so good! I really, really enjoyed them, and I don’t get that feeling with the nibs. Maybe I just need to stay on them longer to become more accustomed to their unique flavor, who knows.
And I know there are chocolate bars with various types of sweeteners that aren’t supposed to cause weight gain or raise your insulin level, but I hate to use them because I don’t like anything artificial, no matter how “natural” they say it is. I stick with plain old sugar or honey, and that’s it. Save for a few very small lowcarb brownies sweetened with a small amount of honey (see recipe below), I haven’t had any sweetie goodness at all.
Still, it is so depressing to think that just a few years ago I had been like the Incredible Shrinking Woman while eating like a queen on Somersize. For eight years I have faithfully stuck to this program, only adding a few healthy “level 2” items to my diet, such as bananas (a high-glycemic fruit) and sugar-free peanut butter. But I haven’t had ANY white, refined flour—not so much as a crouton! I eat my hamburgers and hotdogs without a bun, I eat only PLAIN, whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and the rest of the day is protein/fat/vegetables, mostly organic. I wouldn’t think of putting a Tootsie Roll, Circus Peanut, jelly bean or even a single M&M in my mouth, what with that candy shell; and as far as Twinkies, Ho-Hos, wedding cake, birthday cake, cupcakes, donuts, cookies or even a Starlite Mint, forget it! I couldn’t eat any healthier! And I work out regularly! All this effort, just so maybe, just maybe I can look a little less dumpy?? I’d hate to see what happened if I stopped! But if I had never started Somersize, I might have diabetes or be dead by now, or possibly have exploded like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. But other women my age and older still stay thin! Take Vanna White, for instance. We are the same age and I look nothing like her! Does she never eat??? She admits to having a terrible sweet tooth, so she must eat something! Maybe I’ll end up like my mother, who in her 70’s, even though she ate, withered away to about 65 pounds as she spent her last years in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. Then my weight problems will be over.
In any case, if you too would like to experience “the ultimate chocolate fix”, you might want to give raw chocolate a try. Even if you don’t care to lose weight or cut back on sugar, I think it is worth it just for the antioxidants, flavonoids, and other nutrients. You can buy whole beans, nibs, cocoa butter, cocoa powder (use in brownies), or “chocolate rocks” (nibs low temperature melted into solid pieces). The company says you can use a sweetener like agave nectar which they also sell, to make delicious chocolate treats. (I haven’t used it, though.)
Well, I’m going to go feed my special bacterial colonies now. Hopefully they and I will have an incredible day, and I’m wishing you one, too.
For more information about raw, organic cacao beans and other products, visit www.naturalzing.com.
Posted by cindybinweight
at 1:40 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 24 September 2009 1:46 PM EDT