I’m going to tell you something most people won’t: If you’re craving sweets but you’re also trying to lose weight and keep it off, you should eat the damn chocolate already. Yes, really. In fact, not eating the chocolate that you’ve craving might be one of the things holding you back in your weight loss journey. Let me explain.
What do you do when you’re craving sweets but trying to be good? Usually the answer isn’t white-knuckling through the cravings, having some water, and carrying on with your day. Most of us, and I’ve been guilty of this too, try to negotiate with our cravings. We try an organic, no-sugar-added energy ball or a bowl of granola or a handful of nuts when all we really want is some chocolate, any chocolate, a little bit of chocolate. Doing this isn’t as virtuous as you think it is.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to create a caloric deficit
Before someone yells about the nutrition of food, let me make something clear: Yes, micronutrients matter. Yes, it’s good to get fiber and vitamins by eating whole foods whenever you can. But, at the end of the day, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to create a caloric deficit — and people have proven time and again this can be done with some junk food in the diet.
Diets are hard. There’s nothing fun about eating in a caloric deficit, especially if you’re hitting the gym hard, too. That’s probably one of the reasons why studies that have tried to find the “best” diet for weight loss all end up showing the same thing: The “best” diet for you is the one you can stick to long-term. Now, ask yourself, can you really stick it out with a diet that doesn’t allow a little bit of chocolate? Do you even want to?
Have exactly what you want, in moderation, if you’re craving sweets
Let’s go back to you trying to calm those chocolate cravings with an organic date-almond creation. Has that stand-in ever lessened your actual craving? It doesn’t for us. Inevitably, unsatisfied, we go back for another energy ball or serving of nuts. It’s fine, we tell ourselves, we’re being good because it’s not chocolate. The problem is, you just ate more calories than you would have if you had just eaten the damn chocolate already.
One of those energy balls can easily pack 150 calories (and up) thanks to a calorically-dense combination of dates and nuts (and sometimes honey). But had you reached for a chocolate bar, you could have had a pretty generous helping and still clocked in at 100 calories or under. Half of a milk chocolate bar (22 grams) is around 115 calories, dark chocolate is around 130, depending on the brand and how much sugar they add. If you want intense dark chocolate flavor, Lindt makes an 85% cocoa bar that not only boasts non-alkalized cocoa but also clocks in at just 115 calories and, get this, 2.5 grams of sugar for the same serving. (Alkalization is the process by which cocoa’s natural health benefits are stripped out. They do this to make it taste less bitter.)
It’s all about moderation. No, you can’t down an entire chocolate bar every time you’re craving sweets. But you can have exactly what you want, in a moderate serving. If you satisfy your sweet cravings, you’re less likely to go back for more food or snacks. (If it’s leading you to overeat, however, here’s how you can stop a binge when you’ve already started eating.) This helps you create the caloric deficit we mentioned. Plus, having some chocolate will make you happier. And you know you’re more likely to lose weight and keep it off if you aren’t miserable.
So go eat the damn chocolate already.