55 Pounds Down: Chocolate

I like chocolate.

I admit it. I’m a male chocoholic. I ate too much when I was younger, I ate too much when I got older, and I probably still eat more than I should. The difference between before and after the heart attack? Before I started losing all this weight, I didn’t count it. I mean, I had chocolate when I wanted it, and I had as much as I wanted, and even when I was utilizing my fantastic delaying tactics or trying to moderate my intake or otherwise be good and decent about it, I still ate chocolate.

And I still eat chocolate.

Everyone has their own chocolate. Maybe it’s not chocolate for you. Maybe it’s ice cream. Maybe it’s chicken fingers. Maybe it’s strawberry milk. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t care. If you try to go without, if you try to deny yourself, you’re building a foundation for failure.

The trick is to incorporate it properly.

And that is a trick. It’s a tough trick. It’s a feat of mathematical genius and requires a level of willpower that is, frankly, astronomical. But I’ve managed to do it, so it’s not impossible. In fact, I have every reason to believe if I can do a thing, someone else–maybe you–can do that thing, too.

There are carbs in chocolate. It always comes back to counting carbohydrates. I’m allowed so many in any meal and any snack. So part of the trick is to add some chocolate into some of my meals. Any meal. Part of the trick, too, is to not start throwing it into every meal. (Go back to that section on moderation if you don’t understand.)

Of course, if I’m going to have my chocolate, I’m going to make sure it’s the good stuff. I experimented. When I started adding chocolate back to my diet (sometime after the heart attack), I did so slowly, but I did so with a sense of reckless abandon. I bought every variety of chocolate I could get my hands on. Try this flavor, that flavor, this brand, that brand. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with nuts in it, chocolate with pop rocks in it (no, seriously, there is such a thing). Over the course of several weeks, I tried a lot of different kinds.

I narrowed it down to my favorites.

And now, since every carb counts (and chocolate has plenty of carbs), I make sure to only choose the good stuff. I made an effort to determine what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m not going to waste my carbs on a coarse, dry, tasteless chunk of blech. It’s an indulgence, dammit. I’m going to indulge.

There’s another thing to watch for, too: saturated fats. Though I’m primarily watching carbs, I’ve got to pay some attention to the saturated (and trans) fat content, as well. Here’s where chocolate adds more than its fair share. But it is balanced by the fact that my other snacks during the day are going to be grapes and nuts and happy, low-in-saturated-fat things.

This is important: Saturated Fats are not your friend. When I’m faced with two options of equal value and equal taste and equal carbs, I will always choose the one with less saturated fat. I’m conscious of it, even if I’m not tracking them, because it really comes down to making good choices and good choices that count. So when you slip your chocolate (whatever your chocolate might be) into the equation, consider the other equations it’s also impacting.  It might be that your thing is a thing you can’t do more than once a week because of the fat. It may be your chocolate is actually peaches and there’s no fat content to speak of. I’m only offering guidance here, not hard and fast rules. Bend them in whatever ways are appropriate, so long as you remain aware of what you’re doing and why.

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