I Hide My Chocolate

Midlife observations

Month: July, 2012

My Chocolate Stash

 

A Secret Pleasure

I eat it alone.  Secretively.  I take a bar of dark chocolate and examine the calories and the size of the bar.  I calculate how many 100-ish calorie portions I can divide the bar into.  I break the bar into that many pieces.  I keep one piece out to eat and carefully wrap the remaining pieces up to save for another day.  I need to put them away right away so I am not tempted to eat more than my 100-calorie portion.  I sit and enjoy my chocolate, illicitly, placing a small amount on my tongue and letting it warm up in my mouth so I get the full intensity and complexity of the flavor.  Sometimes I forget to pay attention to the taste and mindlessly pop the chocolate into my mouth.  I am very disappointed when the chocolate is gone and I realize that I didn’t savor the moment.  I feel gypped and want to eat more later.

Very dark chocolate is my favorite.  I go as high as 85% and like the bitterness but I find the flavor is more delicious and mellow in the 70%-75% range.  I don’t really like a lot of add-ins or flavorings, though coffee is a nice touch.   My current favorite is Chocolate Santander, 70%, with coffee bits.  It is not bitter or stale or hard or too thick.  The texture is smooth and it truly melts in your mouth.   

Why am I alone when I eat chocolate?  I am embarrassed to enjoy food in such a sensual way.  Good girls don’t enjoy.  I am embarrassed at my need to control the quantity and the experience.  My weirdness will be discovered.  And besides, if I am not alone, I am expected to share!  Sharing messes up my schedule of allowable chocolate portions.  But, as my husband pointed out – he teasingly outed me and my chocolate stash long ago – it is more fun to share.  Truly it is.  And he still loves me in spite of my weirdness.  Now, I just buy more chocolate and share it as much as I can.  After I measure out my portion…

Dark Chocolate and Weight

I know it is not news that dark chocolate is good for you, but it can help you control your weight.  For me, reserving and looking forward to a treat of dark chocolate every day functions as a signal.  The meal is over – time to stop eating the meal because it’s time for my chocolate!  And it keeps me from eating other types of desserts that have more calories and are not as healthy.  The intensity and the complexity of the flavor are deeply satisfying.  If you focus on the experience, you don’t need a lot.   

My Vacation Fix 

On vacation last week, I got my fix of dark chocolate at a boutique in Newport, RI, Destination Chocolate.  After placing each individual beautiful truffle on delicate china saucers (I chose the 75% pure dark chocolate), Carl coached us on how to optimize our chocolate tasting adventure.  TWO BITES!  Take one bite and place it on your tongue.  Notice the flavor.  As it melts, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth.  Fully finish the first bite before taking the second bite.   After that, it’s up to you to enjoy!

Eat Here Now

Pause

To be mindful means to act with intention.  To eat mindfully means to eat with intention.  Every time you eat, pause a moment.  Even close your eyes.  What is your body feeling right now?  Name what you feel.  Acknowledge what you feel without judgment and take it in.  What are you feeling emotionally, right now?  Name your emotion.  Acknowledge your emotion without judgment and take it in.  Notice your breath.   Breathe.  Ask yourself:

  • Am I hungry? 
  • What does my body want to eat?
  • What does my body need to eat?

There are many answers to the question, Why am I eating right now?   Be aware of your reasons for eating.  Some of the reasons I eat are:

  • Habit – I always eat at this time. 
  • Fuel – I am rushing to work, tennis, yoga, and need to eat something quick.
  • Family – My family is eating a meal together. 
  • Desire – I opened the refrigerator and the grapes looked cold and sweet.
  • Responsibility – No one else is going to eat it.  So I better eat it instead of throwing it away.
  • Chore – I am doing the dishes and my son left a big piece of gooey lasagna on his plate.
  • Love – My daughter cooked it for me. 
  • Social Obligation – There is a birthday party in the office and I am expected to eat cake even though I don’t like stale flavorless store-bought cake.
  • Temptation – The fresh homemade moist delicious cake is sitting on the counter with 1/3 of it left.  I will just take another sliver.  And another.  And another.
  • Emptiness – It distracts me from sadness, doing something I am avoiding, loneliness.
  • Health – It makes me feel like I am doing something productive.  And healthy!
  • Hunger – I am hungry.

Make a decision about what to eat.

Establish a place to eat.  Set your place.  At a table.  Eliminate distractions.  Don’t read.  Don’t eat at your desk, working.   I know.  You don’t have time.  Neither do I – I eat at my desk most days.  But let’s try to do it differently today.  You and your nourishment deserve your time and your attention.  Plus, you will feel more satisfied and eat less food if you pay attention and honor your self and your meal. 

When you eat, eat slowly.  Look at the food.  Smell the food.  Taste the food.  Chew the food.  Swallow the food.  If you allot yourself a healthy amount of calories every day, then your food intake is limited.  Enjoy it.  Pause and ask yourself how your body feels.  Are you still hungry?  Does the food taste good?  If the answer is no, stop.  If the answer is yes, continue. 

When you are finished, end the meal.  Clean your place.  Establish your next activity.  Closure will create boundaries around meals, eliminating mindless eating and snacking and allow you to move your focus onto something else other than food.

I remember loving to eat orange slices as a child.  I would stick them in my mouth making a funny orange grin with the peel.  Then I would bite into the space between the peel and the fruit, the juice squirting into my mouth.  I am reminded of this delight when I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s essay on eating a tangerine mindfully [Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Eating a Tangerine (p5)].  He cautions how easy it is to pop section after section into our mouth without tasting the fruit or finishing each bite.  Eat each section before taking the next section. 

Try eating a piece of fruit with your full attention and notice how delicious it is.

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