Why Chocolate Shouldn’t Be a Guilty Pleasure
How do you find happiness in your life? I eat chocolate.
All of us walk through a world each day that is fast-paced and filled with so many different obstacles. Life is both beautiful and ugly at the same time, and with our minds being stimulated in so many different ways between social media, family, etc, on top of our already crazy daily lives, it’s so easy to get discouraged.
Now will chocolate solve all your problems and make your life instantaneously better? No, of course not. But can it help make your day a little bit better? Absolutely. And not just in a “sweets are comforting” kind of way, but from a health perspective as well.
Because what you might not realize is chocolate has several health benefits mentally.
Did you know that chocolate contains antioxidants that release various happy neurotransmitters in the brain such as endorphins and serotonin? And that these neurotransmitters trigger certain emotions and can effectively reduce stress and decrease pain? Chocolate is a known comfort food because it is chemically comforting to your brain.
Even with the added mental health benefits, some might still argue that staying away from sweets altogether is the best way to go. Many people see sweets as a “forbidden food” and might fight the urge to eat chocolate and other sweets. In a world that’s full of fad diets and weight loss remedies, we are constantly told to cut certain foods out of our diet (sugar, alcohol, etc.) And then when we do “splurge” on foods like chocolate, guilty feeling often follow. This strained relationship with chocolate can be harmful in a number of ways whereas making up with chocolate can benefit your health.
A 2014 study showed that women who associated eating chocolate cake with celebration (happy feelings) had more successful weight maintenance, while those who associated it with guilt were likely to encounter a number of problems, including:
- Less success at long- and short-term weight maintenance
- Feelings of helplessness and loss of control
- Unhealthy eating behaviors
- Greater body image dissatisfaction
- Reduced quality of life
A key in reversing the negative effects of these chocolate cravings is to stop making it taboo. You don’t have to feel guilty about craving a food, whether it’s chocolate or broccoli. In fact, labeling any food as completely off-limits usually results in increased cravings for that food and guilt when you eventually do eat it, the experts say.
It should also be mentioned that in addition to helping us mentally, chocolate also can improve the physical aspects of our lives as well. The antioxidants in chocolate have been known to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase blood circulations
- Help your body better process insulin
- Improve blood flow to the brain
- Boost athletic performance
And these are just to name a few.
So while maybe you shouldn’t sit in front of the TV with your hand in a bottomless bowl of chocolate candies, you shouldn’t avoid chocolate (or other sweets) altogether. Instead, be mindful of when and why you are eating it. Eating chocolate in moderation can be so beneficial when it comes to your physical and mental health, so if chocolate brings you happiness, I say, eat on!