Sunday, August 15, 2010

Strategies for eating chocolate

The best chocolate is different for different people across the globe. The specific foods and tastes we are introduced to early in life become our comfort foods later in life. Simply said, when we are children, familiarity breeds liking especially when tied to an emotional connection such as a treat for good behavior or a shared happy experience. But children are also attracted to sweets at a young age since their bodies need sugar for growth. Once we are adults, we no longer need the same amount of sugar as children, yet our minds still associate high sugar foods with reward and comfort. While most of us love chocolate, in large quanties, chocolate does not love us. 

In small quantities, as part of a meal, chocolate can not only be delicious but also beneficial to our health.Try one of more of the following tips to enjoy your favorite chocolate in moderation and consume it as the special treat we treasure:

1) Consider buying really expensive chocolate that you love. Reserving one small piece for dinner time will help you avoid eating it earlier in the day and give you a treat to look forward to. You can indulge safely and without guilt since the calorie count of one indulgent piece of chocolate should easily fit into your meal allotment and will not raise your blood sugar suddenly or much more than eating the meal without the chocolate.  If one piece is under 100 calories, you may have two pieces. If you buy boxed chocolate, check how many pieces in the box and think of how much time the box should last (e.g. a box of 30 pieces should last a month). This strategy may work for those who are price conscious and want to make their expensive purchase last a long time. It may also work for those who want a treat to look forward to at the end of the day.
2) Check nutritional labels for calories per piece. Do not eat more than one bite size piece with a meal or as a snack unless you've checked calories first. Remove the piece from the original package and put it in a clear bag or container so you can see it. Reading labels for calorie, fat and saturated fat content, planning and separating your intended portion and visually seeing only the amount you want to eat will help you what you monitor your eating. This strategy will work best for those who will read labels and those that are willing to do a little advance planning.
3) Buy bite sized chocolates that are individually wrapped.  Unwrapping takes time and will slow consumption. Most men, in particular, do not like to have to unwrap chocolates so it will deter them from eating more. The harder to unwrap the better. Slowing the eating process give the brain more time to recognize that it has been satified. Save each wrapper and place it in front of you to visualize the evidence so you brain registers exactly how many pieces you've eaten at all times even if you have measured your portion ahead of time. This strategy will work best for those who don't have the patience to fuss or for emotional eaters who would rather not see the evidence of what they ate.
4) Drink your chocolate treat warm in the evening with low fat milk or a soy based milk for added protein. If you prefer it cold, add low fat milk, soy based milk or whey powder with little to no lactose content and some ice cubes. You can add a teaspoon of vanilla or instant coffee, some unflavored or vanilla yogurt or some fresh raspberries. Chocolate consumed with protein milk or soy protein will make a better snack than chocolate alone since it will spike your blood sugar less.Try an unsweetened chocolate mix and add your own sugar. If you feel you need more than two packets or teaspoons of sugar, pour the number of packets into a cup and see how much sugar you are actually drinking. Visualizing drinking the sugar by seeing it in the glass may help you reduce the amount you want to be consuming in the weeks ahead.  At 14 calories per "packet", you will know exactly how many calories you are consuming.  This strategy will work for those who can be satisfied the taste of chocolate and are less focused on the texture.

Do you have questions or other suggestions? Comment by clicking on the link below.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Eat whatever you want just not too much of anything

Eat what you want, just not too much of the foods that we know are high in sugar, fat and salt without providing much in the way of nutrients.

In fact, the more we eat foods that have lots of nutrients, the better the likelihood that we will not exceed our caloric requirements and will meet our nutrient needs. While we don't have to deny ourselves any of foods that we love, we do need to keep foods high in sugar, salt and fat limited to smaller portions and learn how to "fit" these foods or a satisfying substitute into our diet.

In the 70's, the FDA listed some foods to be "Generally Recognized As Safe". Concerns about additives and other ingredients led to the much government research to determine acceptable levels that would not lead to cancer or ill health. After years of this research, it was concluded that all substances consumed in high enough quantities even theose considered "safe"  would lead to unfavorable health risks and the research program was abandoned.

Foodfitter Tip: Eat a piece of your favorite chocolate after your main meal. One Lindt or Ghiradelli square after dinner is a great treat. A chocolate pudding is another way to finish your meal with a sweet indulgence that will not raise your blood sugar and is great dessert under 100 calories. If you prefer to eat fruit for dessert, try fresh fruit in season or a serving of fruit packaged in it's own juice rather than in sugar syrup.


About Me

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers, I'm back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so, there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. If they buy impulsively, that's what they will see more of. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make and stick to better food choices that you enjoy. You'll gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions for healthful food and food practices you can happily embody and embrace!