One Hack to Survive Sugar Season
In my mind Halloween is the start of Sugar Season. It begins with bags of mini candy bars everywhere you look in the grocery stores, then See’s and Lindt boxes of chocolates for Christmas, rolling into heart shaped everything for Valentine’s Day, and finishing with chocolate eggs, and marshmallow bunnies for Easter. We thankfully seem to get a reprieve for the summer when everyone tries to look good in swimsuits after eating all that candy!
It’s a challenge to avoid all that sugar coming at you from every angle. And I’m not going to tell you that it’s a do or die situation. I feel that life is meant to be lived and having sweets occasionally, especially for special celebrations, adds to the quality of life. But the constant daily consumption of sugar is ruining our health. So this Halloween and on through to Easter, I have one Life Hack for you to make the whole holiday candy thing much more health promoting:
Eat dark chocolate instead.
That’s it. How does that make a difference? Keep reading for why sugar isn’t good for you as well as the health benefits of dark chocolate instead.
Why not eat sugar?
As I wrote in a previous blog post How Sugar is Slowly Killing You, eating those mini candy bars this Halloween (and all the other candy I mentioned throughout Sugar Season) is not a good idea. Sugar is highly inflammatory, packs on the pounds and is addictive. Since reducing my sugar intake years ago, my tastebuds have actually readjusted to enjoy lower levels of sweetness to where I find a strawberry or an orange quite sweet.
Why dark chocolate?
Dark Chocolate has no dairy which is nice for those of us with dairy alleries/intolerances, and it also has much less sugar, which is nice for everyone. In fact, the raw cacao that chocolate is made from is actually a superfood that can improve your memory, make you feel happier, reduce heart disease, shed fat, boost immunity and create loads of energy! How awesome does that sound?
How dark is dark?
Look on the wrapper and see if the company has listed the cacao content. The cacao percentage is the indicator of how dark the chocolate is. The more cacao the better, since that is what is providing the health benefits. It will also be more bitter with less sugar. Generally 60% cacao is considered “semi-sweet”, 65% is considered “bittersweet” and 70% and above is considered “dark”. Choose as dark as you can stand. Once you get accustomed to the lack of sweetness, you will notice other flavors in the dark chocolate like subtle fruity or floral notes.
What is the difference between cocoa and cacao?
Even though cocoa and cacao look similar in their powder forms, there is actually a big difference nutritionally. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process is done without the heat of the roasting process so it keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa while removing the fat (the cacao butter). Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. The important difference is that raw cacao contains nearly four times the antioxidant content of regular processed cocoa!
I often use raw cacao when I need a chocolate fix, blending my Chunky Monkey Chocolate Smoothie or whipping up some yummy chocolate coconut protein ball snacks. Look for raw cacao powder at health food stores, supplement stores, community co-ops, Whole Foods, or online.
As usual, there can be too much of a good thing. Even dark chocolate is high in calories so you don’t want to go overboard and have negatives outweigh the positives. For good measure, Dr. Weil recommends an ounce or two a few times a week. So treat yourself with dark chocolate this Halloween and feel good knowing you’re doing your body a favor with increased health benefits and reduced sugar. And have a very happy Halloween!