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Why do some paleos eat chocolate even though it is not a paleo food?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 04, 2010 at 1:18 PM

So, its Easter, there is chocolate everywhere I turn and I need to ask a question: Why do many people on the Paleo diet eat chocolate even though it is not a classic paleo food, of all the non-paleo food out there, this seems to be the one food that gets through the net.....

Is it true that we need to offer ourselves an indulgence once in a while to stay sane or are there truly some benefits from consuming it?

I have been including one square of 87% chocolate in my diet for the last month, but think that it has made me a little heavier around the middle; do most people do well on it or are there some people that notice a detrimental effect after they have eaten chocolate?

And, does eating even a small amount of chocolate every day perpetuate one's craving for sugar?

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 07, 2010
at 07:52 AM

i like the idea of having an "emergency sweet" for those tempting occasions-- don't live near nyc but i might start doing this with some really dark chocolate

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on April 05, 2010
at 02:11 PM

chocolate is totally a vice, but it is such a delicious vice when applied like this. perhaps we can use it to up our offal intake and have a net win? chocolate covered liver or something?

A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c

(951)

on April 05, 2010
at 01:29 AM

I have always wanted to try that. Maybe for lunch tomorrow.

Da19dae8f2904efb21298b785f5d6cb7

(100)

on April 04, 2010
at 08:53 PM

Dark Chocolate on bacon is *amazing*

70d9359a2086e890a4c3bccb2ba8a8cb

(2254)

on April 04, 2010
at 06:27 PM

Interesting about #1... I wonder how bioavailable (absorbable) this chocolate magnesium is though. #2 makes a lot of sense, I have many a time resorted to a couple of squares of 85% chocolate to get rid of lunchtime hunger when I haven´t got time (or access) to have proper lunch... and it seems to work! Not sure if it's just the cocoa fats or maybe also the caffeine or some of the opioid-like substances. It's a good trick to have, though.

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8 Answers

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5
70d9359a2086e890a4c3bccb2ba8a8cb

(2254)

on April 04, 2010
at 01:46 PM

When it comes to dark chocolate (which is what most Paleos eat), I think there's more to the pleasure of it than the tiny bit of sweetness you get with it, it's also something about the texture and mouthfeel that make it quite satisfying (in other words, the fatty bit i.e. cocoa butter), as well as the complex bitter flavour. The smooth, melt-in-your-mouth experience, it's quite comforting. Try eating 99% or 100% chocolate and see if that perpetuates any sugar cravings... ;) Mind you, it might still do that by psychological association, acting as a sort of trigger for memories of sweeter chocolate and thereby other sweet things... The mind is a complex entity.

Some people do advocate avoiding anything that might remotely be associated with sugar or sweetness, arguing that it perpetuates sugar dependence or even that just thinking about sweet foods can cause a physiological rise in insulin levels. I think the jury's still out on whether the tangible physical effects of such phenomena is of any real significance to most.

On a more practical level, I personally don't think a square or two of high quality chocolate a day is going to derail anyone's efforts or make them fat, if the rest of the diet is spot on. It's more about whether you feel it's something that helps you stay sane and stops you from indulging in much worse things - in which case, chocolate is a very very minor evil. This depends very much on each person knowing themselves and their response, rather than there being any universal truth about the need or not for chocolate. It's all relative.

If you wanted to make it as "unharmful" as possible without actually giving it up, you could for instance try making sure it's organic, has the lowest possible sugar content, and doesn't contain any soy lecithin.

3
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on April 04, 2010
at 06:20 PM

Dark choc. Yes 80/20. Be rock solid in your Paleo 80 percent so a little off the mark 20 percent would hurt you. As a diabetic Dark Choc has a small benefit, as it has some good fats. Milk choc is just sugar and I avoid that for 'better' things in my 20%.

Try melting some DARK choc and drizzle it over some BACON. Or if you can dip a strip into some melted Dark Choc. Now you know Heaven.

Da19dae8f2904efb21298b785f5d6cb7

(100)

on April 04, 2010
at 08:53 PM

Dark Chocolate on bacon is *amazing*

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on April 05, 2010
at 02:11 PM

chocolate is totally a vice, but it is such a delicious vice when applied like this. perhaps we can use it to up our offal intake and have a net win? chocolate covered liver or something?

A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c

(951)

on April 05, 2010
at 01:29 AM

I have always wanted to try that. Maybe for lunch tomorrow.

3
58a55f0986b8f49a8bc5666e10492569

on April 04, 2010
at 06:07 PM

Some interesting things about chocolate:

  1. Chocolate has more magnesium than any other food. Sometimes I wonder if that's one reason why so many people crave it, because they're short on that.
  2. I think I heard someplace that natives originally used chocolate not as a snack but to quell hunger pangs when they couldn't find anything to eat. That may be the only valid "Paleo" usage of chocolate.
  3. People that are lactose intolerant (which happened to me when I reached 30) often find that chocolate milk is better tolerated than plain. Possibly, the chocolate may work against the bad intestinal bacteria that eat the milk sugar and cause the problem.

Maybe there are some benefits or at least no harm for some people, but as a former chocoholic (I grew up on Cocoa Puffs, Nestle's Quik, and Three Musketeers candy bars), I have to avoid chocolate completely. I've tried the dark chocolate several times, but I don't have the discipline to eat just one square a day. The rest of the bar is talking to me all day long! One square is too much, and an entire bar isn't enough to satisfy. Then I feel bloated and queasy.

70d9359a2086e890a4c3bccb2ba8a8cb

(2254)

on April 04, 2010
at 06:27 PM

Interesting about #1... I wonder how bioavailable (absorbable) this chocolate magnesium is though. #2 makes a lot of sense, I have many a time resorted to a couple of squares of 85% chocolate to get rid of lunchtime hunger when I haven´t got time (or access) to have proper lunch... and it seems to work! Not sure if it's just the cocoa fats or maybe also the caffeine or some of the opioid-like substances. It's a good trick to have, though.

3
8e75344356f4a455185ee52da0b90bf2

on April 04, 2010
at 01:47 PM

I can't speak for chocolate as I detest the stuff (and don't celebrate easter) but I DO think that a lot of Paleos have chosen it as their non-Paleo indulgence.

As a person who drinks alcohol - definitely non-Paleo! - I feel like most of us do better if we get at least one non-P thing (in moderation) that gives us great pleasure.

After all, most of us were not raised Paleo from birth and many of us have years of ingrained mindsets from the SAD. I myself have over 42 YEARS of memories, associations, etc involving non-Paleo foods: from Snickers bars to fresh tomato sandwiches.

So I'm pretty proud of myself for giving up all sugar, all grains, all starches, all fruit, and all nightshades in the persuit of bettering my health. :)

I figure a wee bit of Jack Daniel's every now and again can be my one acceptable 'sin', LOL. Although chocolate might be a better choice since it IS supposed to have some health benefits! ;)

Oh, and the question about chocolate just perpetuating sugar cravings is a good one. I'm lookinf forward to everyeone's response on that.

2
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 04, 2010
at 07:01 PM

Just a random tip, but I really like a local NYC brand called Fine and Raw. They use agave in some products, but I buy their palm sugar bar (which unfortunately doesn't seem to be sold online, but if you in NYC try the Brooklyn Flea or Park Slope Co-op...but even with the agave, they are very low carb). Their stuff is pleasurable to eat, but not sweet at all. In fact, I'd say that they satisfy my craving and do not stimulate more sweet consumption because they are both richly flavored and fairly bitter.

Contrast that with Reeses, which is cloying and sweet and has another addictive property, casein from milk, embedded within to make it pure unadulterated evil.

I used to eat whole bags of Reeses cups. I pick up a Fine & Raw bar about once a month, which is good because they are $$$. I carry it in my purse in case of a "sweet emergency" like if someone brought cake to work and EVERYONE is eating it except me and I'm thinking of caving.

I've tried other raw brands, like Gnosis, but they are too sweet and don't list carb content.

Fd35eb89073e3a758066b7fcaad63d7c

(796)

on April 07, 2010
at 07:52 AM

i like the idea of having an "emergency sweet" for those tempting occasions-- don't live near nyc but i might start doing this with some really dark chocolate

2
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 04, 2010
at 06:43 PM

Chocolate in general has already been discussed here. Personally I don't think it's a vice at all (or at least not for the reasons usually thought.

The sugar is definitely nothing to worry about. An entire 100g of 87% stuff is 13g of carbs, that's not much more sugar than a plate of carrots and no-one would call that unpaleo. Because chocolate bars melt in the mouth and that sugar is very easily absorbed, you might feel a slightly quicker hit, but I think the concensus is that GI ultimately doesn't matter. Dark chocolate bars might look like the milk powder-vegetable oil-sugar combination, but are far closer to plain cocoa beans or plain cocoa powder in composition. Cocoa itself is mostly fat at a ratio of 24 SFA: 12 MUFA: 1.2 omega-6; that's healthier than most nuts.

So what is bad about dark chocolate?

The caffeine for one. A 100g bar is roughly equivalent to a cup of coffee, so if you're drinking that anyway then it's not really much to consider, but for me, that amount will make be feel slightly sick with caffeine. It'll also cause a surge of blood sugar, which might well be why people assume that the chocolate must be high in sugar to create the same effect.

The other thing is the antinutrients. If you could access all the nutrients in dark chocolate then it would be one of the healthiest things you could eat, more nutritious than plenty of meats and vegetables. Alas, cocoa is full of tannins and phytic acid, which substantially reduces the potential absorption and the tannins are also bad for gut health in general (not that many people worry about this in tea, coffee, herbs etc). In general though, I'd say that dark chocolate (the darker the better) might well be the healthiest option if you're going to consume caffeine anyway.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 04, 2010
at 03:14 PM

Well I must be a really bad paleo person because I have two vices- red wine and dark chocolate with almonds. Whereas wine is usually a daily indulgence with supper, dark chocolate is an occasional one, and I am able to stop at one or two squares.

I really don't like super sweet things any more but the bittersweet taste of dark chocolate is just the ticket when I get a craving for a treat.

I think having the power to be a bit bad at times gives me the strength to avoid worse things that I would still enjoy, like multigrain bread.

0
C53665c3f012fa1ede91033b08a8a6e7

(2269)

on April 04, 2010
at 01:41 PM

I'd think that the amount of sugar in a square* of 87% chocolate would be negligible. I eat raw cocoa nibs, sparingly, because of the nutrients they provide; sparingly because they're incredibly bitter and nasty. Occasionally I'll indulge in 80%+ chocolate, but I don't think it stimulates a craving for sweets, of which I never ate much anyway pre-primal.

  • assuming "a square" means a little piece, not a 6" x 6" sheet :-)

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