Top Tips

Celebrate National Chocolate Week the healthy way

National chocolate week has become a regular feature for one week in October and what better excuse to enjoy some of the best munch on the planet. Here are my top tips for ending the week the same size as you began!

1. Choose cocoa, not sugar. You should only ever eat chocolate which is at least 70% cocoa content. Dark chocolate has approximately 40 fewer calories per 100g than milk chocolate. Far more important though is the carb content. A 100g bar of 85% chocolate has 19g of carb (about the same as one apple). A 100g bar of milk chocolate has over 50g. I am in the group of obesity researchers who consider carbs to be of more importance in weight loss than calories.

2. Choose healthy calories, not empty calories. When you choose chocolate with 85% cocoa content, the other ingredients will be cocoa butter, maybe vanilla and then sugar. So you know that the sugar content is little more than 10% (there’s just no more room for sugar after all the other ingredients). The main ingredient in milk chocolate is sugar (which has no nutritional value) and then milk powder – another processed product. As dark chocolate has nutritious, not empty, calories (as well as antioxidants and anti-coagulants), you will need far less of it to satisfy you.

3. Eat chocolate, don’t graze on it! If you’re going to have some (dark) chocolate, then have it. Enjoy as much as you want to eat of it in one sitting, don’t waste a breath on guilt and love every mouthful. However, don’t make it last throughout the day (grazing). Eating any carb causes insulin to be released and insulin is also called the fattening hormone. We don’t want to be drip-releasing the fattening hormone all day, so have your chocolate lunch and you’ll only get one release of insulin.

If you still need an excuse to celebrate National chocolate week, cocoa is one of the highest natural sources of magnesium and magnesium has been called Nature’s own tranquillizer and anti-depressant. Settle down with your favourite newspaper or magazine and enjoy the feel good factor!