Chocolate is one of the most notorious temptations, making us ditch our diets when cravings hit. So, why would anyone ever encourage you to chow down on the sweet treat if you’re trying to stay healthy? Well, there’s the fact that chocolate isn’t totally bad for us. In moderation, it can play a role in a healthy diet. If you want to curb your cravings and still enjoy a tasty treat from time to time, look no further than the mindful chocolate challenge.
Michelle May, MD, who describes herself on as a “recovered yo-yo dieter” on her website Am I Hungry?, is a strong believer of the mindful chocolate challenge. According to Dr. May, restricting yourself from something like your favorite candy will only lead you to eventually binge on it. That creates guilt, which snowballs into a vicious cycle that repeats over and over again. To turn it around, you need to change your mindset and ditch the diet talk.
Who created the mindful chocolate challenge?
Tara Parker-Pope, the founding editor of Well on New York Times, decided to reject diet talk while forming NYT’s 30-Day Well Challenge. In discussing the challenge, Parker-Pope says that building healthy habits boils down to four guiding principles: move, nourish, refresh, and connect.
The first two principles focus on the body, encouraging non-sedentary lifestyle and filling your body with healthy food — including chocolate. Refresh and connect refer to how we should give our minds a break to restart now and again, and how our bonds with friends and loved ones will help us be happier and healthier.
As she elaborates on the “nourish” aspect, Parker-Pope introduces an idea she calls the mindful chocolate challenge. By selecting a single piece of chocolate (or fruit if you’re not a chocolate fan) and savoring it with mindful meditation, you can nourish both your mind and body.
Changing How You Think About Food
Dr. May recommends “eating fearlessly” by eliminating words and phrases like “let myself,” “indulge,” and “treat” from your vocabulary. “Practicing self-care is not an indulgence,” she writes, “It’s a necessity.” Instead, May recommends focusing on eating mindfully. “Once we recognize what we’re really hungry for, food (yes, even chocolate) can serve its true purpose of fueling our fulfilling lives.”
How To Practice the Mindful Chocolate Challenge
While sitting down to avoid distractions, you should slowly unwrap the sweet, paying attention to the sounds and aroma as you do. Then, instead of popping the whole thing in your mouth, take a small bite and focus on the texture and flavor on your tongue. As you continue to chew, continue to pay attention to how that changes with each chomp. Leisurely repeating this process until you’ve finished your chocolate should become a relaxing, meditative state. This practice will then hopefully encourage you to be just as mindful while selecting and enjoying all of your other daily meals and snacks.
It sounds so simple, but that’s exactly what makes it such an easy technique to try out yourself. Who knows? One piece of chocolate really might be the answer to finally breaking all of your diet cycles and creating a healthier lifestyle for good.