Here's a little secret... I eat chocolate almost every day! I love it, and consistently keeping it in the house has been one of the best strategies for learning how to enjoy chocolate in moderation without over indulging. I've talked about the forbidden-food effect before in previous posts, you can read them here-> (How to Get Out of an Unhealthy Rut in a Way That Feels Good, and Holiday Eating Strategies).
And here's an excerpt I'd like to share with you from The Intuitive Eating Workbook by Evelyn Tribole, RDN and Elyse Resch, RDN on the topic of restriction, and the forbidden food effect...
"A study of chocolate lovers found that when a chocolate restriction was imposed for three weeks, it triggered an increase in their chocolate consumption before and after the restriction period (Keeler, Mattes, and Tan 2015). For many dieters, just the anticipation of starting a new diet is enough to trigger overeating - a farewell-to-food feast.
Consequently, restrained eaters do not really end up eating less food overall. Researchers suggest that a high restraint eating score (meaning a high degree of restrained eating) seems to more accurately reflect eating-related guilt rather than actual food consumed (de Witt Huberts, Evers, and de Ridder 2013)."
By giving myself permission to eat chocolate almost every day I have essentially removed the excitement of the forbidden-food effect. I now feel satisfied and content with stopping after having only one or two squares of dark chocolate (vs. the entire bar), because I know that I can eat more tomorrow.
I don't think there's a more appropriate time than the holidays to talk about this! Instead of creating rules and restrictions for yourself around food, I encourage you to allow yourself to enjoy food again. Like, really enjoy it. The more you expose yourself to food, the less triggering food becomes, and the more in-control you feel around food (decreasing the likelihood of overeating).
Like I always say, what we do consistently matters most. If you put in the work to develop the skills, create the routines, and build the habits in order to make consistent choices that support your health, then there’s always wiggle room in a healthy diet for indulging in your favorite treats.
Below is a super simple and delicious recipe to satisfy a sweet tooth! It reminds me of an almond joy! All it takes is 4 ingredients and about 20 minutes to whip up a batch... I hope you enjoy them :)
Dark Chocolate Almond Clusters
Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao, chopped) - I used 2 (47 g) chocolate bars from Trader Joe's
1 tsp Coconut oil
3/4 cup Whole almonds
Shredded coconut, unsweetened
1. Melt dark chocolate and the coconut oil in a glass bowl (You can microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time until melted. Or melt chocolate over stove top by bringing about an inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Set the bowl over the pot, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir occasionally as it softens).
2. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Add almonds to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Use a spoon to drop small, even clusters (containing about 4 to 5 almonds each) onto the parchment paper.
4. Sprinkle coconut overtop of each cluster immediately. Transfer to the freezer until the clusters are set, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the freezer and enjoy!