It’s Not Actually Aunt Flo’s Fault…

Did you know? Most experts say there’s no real hormonal reason to blame for chocolate cravings around a woman’s period, and most cravings are reported at points in the cycle there are no hormonal changes. What gives?

Many of us (myself included) have felt struck by a chocolate craving come that time of the month. Most likely, experts guess, it’s a drive for comfort. Chocolate is a socially accepted (and majorly reinforced) way to deal with this stress. (Around here we use StressArrest!)

But that isn’t the only reason we reach for chocolate when we need TLC”¦ In addition to releasing endorphins, chocolate also has opiate qualities. It makes us feel good. Scientists know this because opiate-blocking drugs like Naloxone (which when administered to a person who has used a drug like heroin, morphine or other narcotics, block any “high”) also block the opiate effect of chocolate! Interesting, no?

Need more convincing? 80% of menopausal women with little to no hormonal variability in their cycles still report chocolate cravings. It’s also deemed an “acceptable” time to indulge cravings.

When you live in a world of high dietary restraint, you basically have to invent excuses to “make it ok.” It’s time to let that go. Let’s release this corseted attitude, ladies and gents, and learn how to indulge any time, shame free.

It’s ok to eat chocolate – but when we “talk choc,” we’re talking about high quality, low sugar stuff. Not Hershey’s anything or similar garbage. Sorry, we’re not sorry. That’s not a treat, it’s junk. Your waistline, brain (since you won’t be besieged with cravings) and temple of a body will thank you later.

We’re all about figuring out ways to enjoy everything you love (or lust after, in the case of chocolate) while still feeling great inside and out.

How do you do that successfully with chocolate? Hint, it’s more than “unwrap, gobble, repeat.” Read on for some obscure facts about chocolate, as well as how to enjoy and treat yourself without falling off the wagon.

Did you know?

â–ª It takes 400 cocoa beans to produce one pound of chocolatey goodness
â–ª The first Hershey’s kisses were shaped like squares.

(You can thank us the next time these facts help you win Trivial Pursuit)


Honey, I Need Chocolate! Science Says So!

Interestingly, scientists say there’s substance behind our “I had a bad day” chocolate choices. Research suggests it’s the polyphenols found in cocoa that are responsible for inspiring the chocolate-induced afterglow.

Have you ever reached for chocolate after a stressful day? Research suggests that cocoa polyphenols have anti-anxiety effects (due to their interaction with GABA receptors in the brain). Around our office, we use StressArrest for the same ohmmm effect.

Other researchers also saw marked differences in urine and blood levels of stress hormones after regular dark chocolate consumption, adding evidence that cocoa has anti-anxiety effects.

What else can cocoa do for us?

Keep our blood flowing smoothly, for one. Flavanols are the reason cocoa is known to have blood pressure reducing effects. (Flavanols widen blood vessels and increase blood flow to the brain – pretty sweet).

Some research suggests that dark chocolate might improve mental function! How’s that for brain food!


Tips for Picking a Chocolatey Treat

Is it “fun” to eat a sweet treat and then be wracked with guilt later? Um, no. Instead – how about having your chocolate and eating it too (without the shameover)?

â–ª Look for dark chocolate with low sugar.
â–ª Choose at least 70% cocoa. The chocolate percentage tells you how much sugar was added: take the number on the label, ex “75% cocoa” and subtract it from 100. The remainder tells you how much sugar was added, so in our example, the other 25% is sugar.
â–ª Read the label. See something icky or an ingredient you can’t recognize? Pass. On to the next.
â–ª Always choose high quality

Takeaway: Indulge, but indulge smart.

But chocolate-eater beware”¦ don’t fall down the rabbit hole with sugar! Sorry guys, milk chocolate doesn’t have the same health properties. And white “chocolate” has none – because it’s cocoa content is zero. Yep, it’s called chocolate but doesn’t really deserve the name.


Hot Cocoa Recipe

Cambiati Instructor & Nutritionist Lorie swears by this hot cocoa for anxiety reduction. It’s a sweet treat that also inspires calmness. Win-win!

“¢ 1-2 tbsp organic unsweetened cocoa
“¢ 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (may add a splash of unsweetened coconut milk for extra creaminess)
“¢ 1 tbsp Xylitol

More Ways to Enjoy Chocolate

Total choc-a-holic? Here’s our Chocolate Mint Protein Shake. Raw cacao nibs are a great (superfood level) addition – giving you tons of antioxidants and fiber. Plus they taste like crunchy little chocolate chips in your shake! nom nom nom.

Need a clean recipe for Mother’s Day? Try our recipe for decadent Chocolate Pots de Creme!

source: Saveur magazine, chile ancho sopa de chocolate

source: Saveur magazine, chile ancho sopa de chocolate

You can also use cocoa in savory recipes. Check out some gourmet ideas on our CambiatiEating Pinterest board. Recipes include chili, meat rubs, mole sauce, enchiladas, and more!