and what about ice-cream, cakes, biscuits or crisps?
We are biologically programmed to love the very foods that can lead to weight gain—which is maddening isn’t it?
For our ancestors ate food with high fat and sugar to provide them with enough energy to live and survive. Our Victorian cousins, both men and women with physically demanding work needed to consume 3–4,000 calories a day. If we go back even further in time, our ancient ancestors needed between 4–6,000 calories a day. So foods with a high calorie content were sought after so that the volume of food wasn’t overwhelming.
For our typical life-style today, we no longer need anywhere near as much high energy (calorie) foods because it is too much for our body, yet our brain has not evolved to match our body’s lesser need for calories. In short, it is still wired to crave fat and sugar. Aghh!
However, it’s possible to eat chocolate and lose weight. It’s more difficult to include chocolate whilst trying to lose weight—but tiny amounts can be eaten as a treat. When you have reached your ideal weight, then you may find you can eat it a little more often without it altering your weight. It’s all about balance. That sound’s cliche, but there is truth in it too. What does it take to stay in balance?
Whilst aiming to lose weight, begin by making sure you are not hungry—especially if you are just about to do the weekly shopping! If you are hungry, you are likely to crave quick fixes, like chocolate. Why? Because your body knows it will get the energy it desires quickly—although of course the surge of sugar into your blood stream will have other, not so desirable, consequences.
With every meal and snack, look at the protein content—not just meats, fish dairy and eggs—but also lentils, peas, beans and vegetables such has kale, cabbage, broccoli and Swiss chard. Protein helps keep you fuller for longer and most high-protein foods also contain the amino acid L-Glutamine (one of the compounds that make up protein) which helps the brain let go of sugar cravings. See my earlier article on protein and weight loss.
As you know, the British government promotes the idea of ‘5-day’ to encourage us to eat more, but other countries take this much further; Denmark advises 6, Canada 5–10, France 10 and in Japan, a whopping 13 portions. I believe that we need to eat far more fruit and veg, especially veg because the nutritional content is so high, and the volume helps fill us up without massively adding to our calorie consumption. This too then allows for small, occasional treats of rich foods without it altering weight gain.
To help you get the proportions right so you can enjoy but not go overboard with treats like chocolate. And so when you do have these treats—really enjoy every morsel.
For chocolate treats, when either trying to lose weight or to stay slim, choose very good quality dark chocolate as its intense flavour is less likely to lead to bingeing. Choose to have just one square. See if you can teach yourself to do this. If you can’t, then try sharing a smaller (40g) bar with someone. These smaller bars are becoming more readily available—the Co-op produce bars like this.
Finally, love all of the different foods we have available to us—including those that are more tricky in terms of weight loss. Please don’t class foods with high fat and sugar content as bad—rather begin to see that you can enjoy any rich food as small treats when most of what you eat is genuinely wholesome and healthy.
Eat Well—Be Well 🙂