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Chocolate, The New Diet Food

It's true. Chocolate is the new diet food. Let us rejoice!

And why not? I just bought truffles having approximately 50 calories each. The fine quality chocolate melts, no...languishes in my mouth, imparting a flavor so rich it fills my senses completely. I am enraptured by the experience, and must stop whatever I'm doing, close my eyes and focus completely on the delightful pleasure this 50 calorie treat offers.

The United States Department of Agriculture suggests that the average woman can eat approximately 1,800 calories per day, with variations depending on activity level. Men can have approximately 2,200. If one multiplies that by 7 to obtain weekly caloric limits, we can eat approximately 12,600 to 15,400 calories per week. The whole box of these particular truffles contains 28 pieces and 1,323 calories. You would still have almost 10,000 calories left for the week after finishing the entire box! It's not my recommendation, but knowing that this sometimes this happens makes it a manageable occurrence.

Better quality chocolate is extremely satisfying so fewer pieces satisfy a craving, especially when eaten slowly. For those who don't trust themselves, have small bags of Bites or Poppables around. They are teensy versions of chocolate with almonds, Milky Ways, Kit Kats, and most mainstream chocolates we love. Seventeen Bites have approximately 200 calories. These are compulsive eaters' dreams, for some of us need to crunch and eat continuously...going for quantity over quality.

There is no damage done, since weight is gained by consuming more calories than are being burned off with activity. A calorie is a calorie regardless if it comes from diet food or chocolate. The more satisfied people are, the less likely they are to cheat. Binges often result from deprivation and the "abstinence violation effect" which says, "I already blew it, so I might as well finish the rest of the bag and start my diet again Monday!" This mentality sabotages any diet.

Chocolate is one of the best diet foods around for women, since estrogen was found to create fat/sugar combination cravings while testosterone creates cravings for fat/protein combinations. Doesn't it ring true that women prefer sweets while guys need their steak? See, it's not our fault; it's hormonal!

Powerful and influential research recently found that comfort foods switch off chronic stress biologically. Chocolate cake and ice cream simply shut down the stress system, bringing relief and relaxation. Fat and sugar let the body know there is no longer an "emergency". That means it's time to restore energy reserves, which were somewhat depleted during the time of stress. Fat and sugar stimulate the brain's pleasure center signaling that "danger" has gone. For those who eat when stressed, you now know why; it's a crude method of stress management.

If we reach for non-fat, artificially sweetened foods, we do not satisfy biological or psychological cravings. That's probably why people devoured Snackwells by the case, thinking they were "allowed". We must learn how to manage the foods we crave instead of overindulging or depriving ourselves.

Sugar and fat can kill the appetite, so calories are spared elsewhere. How many of us have said to our children, "Don't eat sugar before dinner because it'll spoil your appetite?" Well, spoil your appetite; it'll do you good! Chocolate should be programmed into the diet, by allotting a certain amount of calories for it.

Research has also found multiple healthy components of chocolate, as well as euphoric properties. A happier dieter sticks to it, and chocolate stimulates production of endorphins and serotonin, two chemicals which elevate mood! Chocolate's antioxidants help prevent diseases, and one study found that people who ate dark chocolate had a significant drop in blood pressure. Chocolate can be a dieter's best friend.

Abby Aronowitz, Ph.D. Author of Your Final Diet