Charged on Chocolate

Though humans have been enjoying chocolate en masse for a relatively short time, the cacao bean has been around for centuries. True, we can’t realistically picture Adam surprising Eve with a box of chocolates, but chocolate can (certainly for me) entice us with just the gratifyingly tempting decadence to be found in the Garden of Eden.
It’s not surprising that chocolate makes the perfect gift of love. Looking past the piles of heart-shaped cardboard candy boxes I’ll see this month, I’m continually captivated by the simple, classic chocolate bar. I’m hooked on the creamy texture, the bitter-sweet bite of the dark variety (my favorite), and ultimately the rush of endorphins.
At our family Christmas brunch, several of us exchanged boxes of chocolates, and I was asked (probably because I edit a food page) to verify the fact that chocolate is good for you.
Well established within my chocolate lover’s fortress and holding the just-unwrapped, full to overflowing box of Daffin’s all dark assortment I’d received as a gift, how could I say otherwise? “Of course,” I affirmed, “especially dark chocolate,” confidently smiling over my candy.
Recent studies of chocolate’s healthy effects are easy to capitalize on. Isn’t it pleasing to read a magazine cover that says chocolate is good for you? Yes, research has shown that chocolate, eaten in moderate amounts, can produce healthful benefits. One chocolate company is enhancing their candy bars with extra heart-healthy flavonols and is reducing sugar and calories. These could make us feel even better about eating chocolate.
Taking a temperate side, there are other ways to boost our morales this winter. Exercise increases the brain’s levels of another feel-good chemical, serotonin. Just a 30-minute walk can give us a temporary lift from even major depression.
Other good habits we should follow: Always put our food on a dish or plate of some kind. Breathe deeply between bites and pay attention to the way foods taste and feel. Give our bodies 15 minutes or so to register that we’re full.
If some cravings lead us to overeat or binge, since much indulgent binge-eating is done at night, set up some rules like not eating anything more an hour or two after your evening meal.
I haven’t binged on my Christmas chocolates yet. I set a limit of two per night, usually having them an hour or so after supper and they are my only evening snack. Evidently I’ve skipped a few nights because it looks like I’ll still have candy left at Valentine’s Day.
In no way does this mean I don’t want chocolate for a Valentine gift. When that chocolate craving comes, I’ll have it covered. My Valentine wish to chocolate lovers everywhere: May your box of chocolates always be full!

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