Chocolate on Valentine's Day

Created by susan on 2019-02-13 18:02:02

Eating Chocolate without Guilt on Valentine’s Day

Many years ago, I decided to surprise my husband on Valentine’s Day and purchase a small chocolate fountain for dipping strawberries. We had been to parties where a large chocolate fountain was used as a dessert station and it was a wonderful culinary experience. I envisioned it as a sensual experience, so I wore my sexy red silk pajamas with black lace. I purchased dark chocolate and added orange extract since this is one of our favorite types of chocolate. It is reminiscent of chocolate oranges that the British put in their Christmas stockings that contain segments of dark chocolate oranges that look like real orange slices….only better! 

What a romantic evening…right? I did not read the directions and I used cream instead of vegetable oil! As we were sipping our champagne cocktails made of champagne with a splash of pomegranate juice and fresh raspberries (i.e., a mocktail with sparkling water) we waited for the chocolate to flow like a real fountain! Instead the chocolate coagulated, and we were sprayed with chocolate everywhere….in our hair, face, and all over my “not so sexy red silk pjs”! My husband being British and having a great sense of humor burst out laughing! It made for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day!

My father in law, Peter said he wished that the Brits celebrated Valentine’s Day, so he purchased a box of chocolates and roses for Olive, my mother in law! What a sweetheart! I encouraged him to adopt it anyway. But, why do we celebrate this holiday? I think holiday celebrations brighten our day because they are festive and fun! They add a spark of something special that is out of the routine. We watch fireworks on July 4th, wear goofy costumes for Halloween, partake of turkey dinners on Thanksgiving, exchange gifts during the holiday season, and ring in the New Year! 

But Valentine’s Day is reserved for love. Why does chocolate play a significant role on Valentine’s Day? There is a biological magic behind chocolate aside from its’ silky texture and delectable taste. Chocolate contains an endorphin: Phenylethylamine, also called the “love drug” which produces similar feelings when one is in love. In addition, anadamide, contained in fat in chocolate, activates dopamine production which elicits feelings of happiness and emotional well-being.

One ounce of dark chocolate counts as one serving and it contains saturated fat and nutritious nutrients such as vitamin A, B, and E, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and flavonoids (i.e., plant-based antioxidants). Aim for a cocoa content of at least 70 percent for the highest levels of flavonoids. Research shows that dark chocolate can potentially lower blood pressure, provide antioxidant benefits, decrease cholesterol levels and improve heart circulation. 

 

Recent studies show that negative emotions such as guilt are now associated with food more than in the past. If we consistently label our food as “bad, good, or clean” it seems that we began to label ourselves as well. That opens the door to attaching a negative emotion anytime we apply one of the “bad” labels to what we’re eating. Research reveals that 80% of binge eating is due to [NH1]deprivation. A study at the University of Maryland reported that 75% of overeating is due to emotions.

The pleasure centers are located in the midbrain and the following activities induce a pleasurable response: laughter, sex, food, and aerobic activity. This sends chemicals like dopamine and serotonin to the cortical area where the brain stimulates an endorphin effect (i.e., feel good hormones) by elevating your mood. With so many benefits why not treat yourself and enjoy chocolate this Valentine’s Day to avoid feeling deprived. One can learn to balance their food intake without feeling guilty or wrecking their waistline and experience the food educed state of euphoria where we derive a pleasurable sensation.

[NH1]Is “the result of” a better phrase?  Due to doesn’t tell us why.  It seems too vague.  Can you add another sentence or two here that tells us more about this in a way in which we can personally put it to use – and provide a link to the study.