Halloween marks the beginning of the two best months of the year, full of holidays, family reunions, "friendsgivings" and lots of yummy food. It also marks the beginning of this time of the year when we call chocolate nutritious and say other half-truths to justify our enjoyment.
What is chocolate exactly?
Let's first explain what chocolate is made of: cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are seeds of the cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao), a delicate plant native to Central America, South America and Africa. They have a strong and bitter taste and are therefore fermented after harvest (with natural yeast and bacteria) to develop the aroma. They are then dried, cleaned and roasted. Then the hull is removed and the remaining cocoa tip is ground to a powder containing cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The cocoa butter, also known as the cocoa liquor, which is liquefied during pulverization, is poured into molds and cooled. This is what you will find as a 1
So we found out so far. Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which are actually cocoa tree seeds. These are harvested, fermented, dried, roasted and ground. Chocolate is therefore a plant – and hey, eating more plants is the foundation of a healthy diet, right?
But it's nutritious, right?
Cocoa is widely regarded as one of the highest levels of antioxidants in the world. Research has shown that it can help lower blood pressure, protect cells from free radicals, lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and even increase brain function.
It is also rich in iron, magnesium and fiber. That makes it a real superfood. Does that not answer the question of whether it is nutritious?
So where is the catch?
You see, the problem occurs when this nutritious cocoa is 100% mixed with other ingredients and made into something completely different. Sugar, milk, flour, baking powder, corn syrup, cream and various additives, fillers, colors and flavorings; It is they who make the chocolate less nutritious and freed from most of their great qualities.
This is where your justification for Halloween pampering does not matter – all the sweets and chocolates you consume on your trick-or-treating journey have little to zero nutrients beyond sugar.
But chocolate makes you happy
We all know that chocolate treats are not the best food choices and a big Hershey bar It's definitely not considered an essential macro or micronutrient food, but it's hard to ignore its delicious taste and how good it is for our sanity to have a day when we let go of the limits of clean eating.
We feel happier, less anxious and more tolerant. Even if we do not provide our bodies with nutrients, we do almost the same thing: we increase our serotonin (happiness hormone) and dopamine levels on the roof!
This has been proven to be correct since chocolate contains a compound known as tryptophan, which is related to serotonin production. It has also been shown that more serotonin and dopamine in our system reduces stress and anxiety and creates a general sense of calm and happiness.
Halloween enjoyment is not so bad?
No, it is not. Living a healthy and happy life depends on a simple but hard-to-reach and sustained goal: balance.
Balance is the key to everything in life. So why should food and nutrients be the exception? If you pay attention to your diet and provide your body with the right nutrients, you can treat yourself to chocolate or other delicious desserts (Hello Thanksgiving Pie and Christmas Pudding), while spending time with friends and family, that's not so bad. Stress is the biggest culprit of all human problems. That's why this season is so incredible!
What if I exaggerate it?
First: Do not panic. Second, you need to determine what exaggeration means. Are you worried that you have gone too far for eating a second piece of chocolate cake or because you have eaten 75 Snickers? In the first case, no, you have not gone too far, two pieces of cake are perfectly fine. In the second case, you may have an example of excessive enjoyment, but in both cases, you will calm down.
There is nothing worse than burdening yourself and feeling guilty. What is done is done. All you can do is accept it and move forward. Pay close attention to what you eat from then on, make sure you get enough nutrients, and avoid processed foods as much as possible to lower the rate of inflammation and boost your immune system. As simple as that! Life is not linear and we all go through phases, but as mentioned above, balance is the key and finding and maintaining balance is the ultimate goal.
Halloween awakens our inner child and helps us to tackle the careless, joyful, happy, anxious feelings we all so desperately need to unfold and balance our serious and responsible qualities. So, yes, chocolate makes us happier, and it can definitely be "nutritious" for our mental health.