If there were meetings for those hooked on chocolate, I’d have to stand up, say my first name and admit, “I am an addict.”
How do I know? Simple: More than several people have said to me, “I can’t have chocolate in the house” (meaning they would have to eat it), and my reply is, I can’t not have it in the house!
When I was in the hospital once, I despaired of having a nice chunk of my favorite snack. Soon a friend rescued me by offering to buy it on the way to her gym workout. I’m sure my healing time was shortened.
Another time at a meeting table with chocolate cookies on a plate (to be eaten afterward), I watched as my hand reached out on its own accord at the start of the session, grabbed a cookie, and took it straight to my mouth. Fortunately, we did not know each other at the table. The others were too polite to mention it.
For many years I restrained myself, because just a bit of chocolate would make my face break out, mostly in a prominent pimple. This is not unusual in adolescence, but my breakouts went on for decades. Old age eventually cured that, so my daily indulgence is (almost) without penalty.
I can make my supply last quite a long time, as just one or two squares of a bar are usually enough to satisfy. But I have to guard against overindulgence. The stuff tastes so good I sometimes crave just a bit more. Yet even the addict has to be careful.
A California candy maker advertised a dark chocolate tasting in San Francisco one evening. A friend and I had eaten dinner nearby and decided it was just the thing after a hearty meal. Many dark chocolate creations later, my stomach was in turmoil, heading fast toward losing all. That was not so sweet.
One hazard for some is the caffeine content of chocolate. If I eat a rich chocolate dessert after having the usual modest amount earlier in the day, I'm in for a sleepless night. I haven’t seen any research to show that the caffeine content of chocolate is anything but low. Yet the proof is in the pudding, and the cake.
Friends who know my love of chocolate have offered scrumptious desserts like a big piece of Black Forest cake with lots of frosting and added grated chocolate bits on the sides, and I know full well the sheer joy of eating it will result in a night of tossing and turning. Still, I can't resist. Just don’t talk to me while I am eating this luscious concoction. If I'm going to suffer later, my full attention is required now.
I truly believe I'm doing the right thing. Studies show people who eat chocolate are less likely to have heart trouble. And dark chocolate, my favorite, has inflammation-fighting properties that lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Pass the chocolate, indeed.
There is a downside, of course. Added sugars may contribute to diabetes and can easily add pounds. This hasn’t concerned me – I’ve always been on the thin side and was teased about it as a child until my mother told me to look on it as an advantage, because I would never be one who has to push away from the table, or pass on the chocolate box.
No question, chocolate improves one’s mood. I strongly agree with the Washington Post wellness editor who says it outright: enjoying food is part of life and we chocolate eaters feel less stressed. I still remember how the nervous tension of studying for final exams at the U of Oregon lessened with a supply of Van Duyn’s truffle mints at hand.
Actually, I’ll be honest. It was probably a Hershey Bar, because I couldn't have afforded Van Duyn’s, a premier chocolate maker in Portland. And yes, it is still going and known for its truffles.
“Even the smallest bite is pure satisfaction!” is how Van Duyn's advertises online. I couldn't agree more with that line, and I hope Van Duyn's will forgive me if I adopt it as my own heartfelt sentiment about my love for chocolate.