Asked by Dan Lazarus, Gilroy, California
I'm addicted to chocolate! I can go a few days without any, but then I binge big time on it. How do I curb this addiction to the most delicious food ever?
Diet and Fitness Expert
Dr. Melina Jampolis
Physician Nutrition Specialist
Hi, Dan. Let me start by saying that I'm a chocolate lover too, and for me, a life without chocolate just wouldn't be quite as wonderful. Your question brings up two important points.
First of all, although chocolate is by no means a health food, and eating too much of it can lead to weight gain, chocolate (in moderation) has actually been shown to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure, heart health, insulin resistance and even dental health. Most of these benefits are likely due to the potent plant-based antioxidants called flavonols, which are present in chocolate, especially in dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa. (Milk chocolate has fewer flavonols; white chocolate has none.)
Second, depriving yourself of foods that you really love can lead to bingeing, which probably results in increased caloric intake and weight gain over the long run.
So if you really love chocolate, there is nothing wrong from either a health or diet standpoint with including a small portion in your diet on a regular basis. The most important point is to keep portions under control by buying single-serving bars if possible or breaking off a serving and putting the rest of the bar out of sight so you are not tempted to eat more than one serving.
One trick I suggest to patients if they find it difficult to stop after one serving is to chew a piece of mint or cinnamon gum after eating tempting foods to get the taste out of their mouth or make subsequent servings less tasty.
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