Things in my life have been a little bit crazy recently. Ok, they’ve been A LOT crazy. I am finishing up projects for a job assignment that ends the first week of June and am preparing for my next assignment with the same company that will take me from Michigan to the New England area. Eek!
I’ll be working in New Jersey, but this nutty Midwestern gal has decided to live in New York City for the next 9 months. I’ve always wanted to live in a big city for a while, so why not go for the biggest one, right?? Lol, yeah I have no idea what I’m getting myself into… I realize this
While this is all SUPER exciting it’s kiiiiiinda stressful at the same time.
[Apparently, the unknown freaks me out a little even though I can manage it pretty well. Lol]
Anyway, with all of this and trying to finish projects and orchestrating a pretty big move, my stress levels have been higher than normal recently. This means then that my appetite is funky and mainly that my cravings for chocolately and any sweet things are through the roof. And that is telling because my close friends and family all know that this girl normally craves salty stuff – potato chips, hamburgers, fried foods, etc.
So the fact that I’m craving sweets means my stress has taken over… My brain is probably dying for some dopamine or seratonin or something.
Cravings like these make it kinda tough for this former athlete to lose weight, and I don’t want them to derail the progress I’ve made so far! Soooo….
When cravings, especially for sweets, are this strong I turn to cocoa powder. Pure unadulterated, unsweetened, 100% cocoa powder.
This stuff is the bomb.com. For realz.
It is a miracle worker on my cravings and crushes them within almost minutes (usually the cravings have chilled about 30 min after I first start consuming the cocoa powder). Why does it do this? Cause it’s awesome. And cause it stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain.
See cocoa powder contains some pretty cool compounds like seratonin, phenylethylamine, and anandamide.
-We know seratonin levels are related to eating patterns (higher seratonin levels often mean less food intake).
-Phenylethylamine is like an identity theif - it passes as dopamine in the brain and carries out transactions like dopamine would. It’s waaaaay sneaky.
-As if these weren’t reasons enough to consume cocoa, anandamide has actually been referred to as “chemical bliss” for its ability to find and push the “buttons” in the brain that create feelings of euphoria (slightly more technically, it binds to receptors in the brain that stimulate euphoric feelings).
This is why cocoa is such a power player when it comes to crushing cravings.
Now the question is — How to incorporate it into your diet? Until I found this suggestion from Metabolic Effect, the only way I knew to incorporate it was to bake brownies or chocolate mint cookies. And since that’s kind of counter-productive to our weight loss efforts, well then we need other options…
Metabolic Effect suggests making it into a hot drink. Stir 1 tablespoon into hot water and then sweeten with stevia, xylitol or other low/no cal sweetener.
Be aware, it’s bitter when you first try it. Now I can do my drinks with just a smidge of stevia and 2 Tbs cocoa in ~10oz hot water. But I had to work up to that. I will tell you though, it’s great for an after-dinner option when you really feel like pulling out the snack items or sweets. This gives you something to sip on for a while, and by the time you’re done with the drink, the bioactive compounds listed above are already starting to work their magic.
**Do be careful though if you’re pretty sensistive to caffeine. There is caffeine in cocoa powder, so proceed with caution when consuming in the evenings.
But there are times when I don’t really want a hot drink, and I want something that feels like dessert. That was me this weekend, so I whipped up this dessert and thought I’d share it with you all. It’s a paleo chocolate pudding and it’s so yummy!
The cast of characters are cocoa powder (obviously), light coconut milk, chia seeds and chocolate stevia drops (can sub any other low/no-cal sweetener here but I LOVE these things).
Craving Killer Pudding
-3/4 c light coconut milk
-2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/4 c chia seeds
-2 droppers worth of chocolate stevia drops (or another no-cal sweetener to taste)
Whisk together coconut milk and cocoa powder until there are no visible lumps of cocoa powder (a hand mixer with whisk attachment helps with this). Stir in chia seeds and sweetener until well combined. Cover and place in fridge for an hour. Mixture will thicken into a pudding-like consistency (this is from the chia seeds). Stir and dive in.
See it’s that easy! Throw a couple sliced strawberries on top and I’m in heaven! It’s sooo good!! Even though it looks a little funny with all the puffy chia seeds, hehe, it’s a far better option than eating several chunks of a sheet cake or a quart of ice cream… which I may or may not have done before… **cough, cough** Anyway, you get your cravings fighting cocoa powder and the feel of eating a dessert, plus it’s not too coconut-y which is good because I despise coconut.
So there ya have it! TWO ways to use cocoa – the cravings crusher - to help you get in shape!
Try making either the drink or pudding this week to destroy your cravings and let me know how it goes!
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