Yesterday, when I was stocking up on produces at the Yolo Fruit Stand, I reached across my cart and grabbed an 85% dark chocolate Lindt bar off the shelf. Last minute splurge? Yes – I am going camping this week and ‘must’ make dark chocolate smores (this will be the second attempt at this. The first time I was in Washington and some renegade mice lifted my Dagoba bar – no kidding!).
Okay, back to the story. As I snagged my goodie, the woman behind me shouted “you can’t eat that…it’s fattening!!”. She sounded very convicted, and almost scared. I replied “I know, isn’t it great…..?”.
But it got me thinking: is chocolate intrinsically ‘fattening’? To be fattening means that the substance will actually make you fat, like it has the ability to do that regardless of how much you eat, what else you eat, or how often you eat it. It’s true that chocolate has calories, but are they any more fat-provoking than the calories in a salad?
My year of study tells me that nothing (except maybe HFCS because it may slow down the ability to burn fat – more research being done) intrinsically is fattening. It’s all about how you eat it. PLUS, I would argue that if anything is fattening, it’s something loaded with sugar because you’re more likely to overeat it, and large volumes of fast acting carbs make your body produce a lot of insulin, which goes right to the fat cells if not needed for immediate energy.
We have such a skewed view of food. I am in this boat too. I think a lot of women live in fear of getting fat just from taking a bit of something wonderful like dark chocolate (which by the way has 210 kcal/oz), but may generously sip low fat beverages or eat excessive fruit or fat-free yogurt…or whatever. Food is “good” or “bad”. Some foods make us skinny, some don’t – or so we think.
Dark chocolate, with 3g fiber, antioxidants, 5g sugar, 4g protein per serving, is not inheirently fattening. It’s the over consumption of this food, and others, that is fattening. Yes, if I eat 1 bar (2.5 servings)/day and don’t account for that by balancing my other calories, I will likely gain weight. And it is true that an ounce of chocolate is not a lot of volume, so it could be easy to overconsume.
However, when you allow yourself to eat high quality, low sugar, chocolate, you might be less likely to overeat it because it’s so dang rich. Even me, lover of all things chocolate, can only have a small piece a day, if any at all.
And no, I’m not worried it will make me fat 🙂