Hi, I’m Dominique, and I’m a chocoholic. OK, maybe not seriously, but I do love me some chocolate — in any iteration! Some of my very favorite foods are cocoa-infused, whether they’re in liquid, solid, whole food, or baked good form.
That said, I also tend to eat pretty damn healthy — I exercise regularly, and enjoy nourishing my body and mind to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. But when FitOn asked me if I wanted to eat chocolate every day for a week, what was I going to do, not try it?
My objective: prove that chocolate CAN (and should!) be part of your healthy lifestyle and that treating yourself daily doesn’t derail your goals. Did I live up to the task? I’m not going to spoil the ending! Read on, fellow chocolate lovers.
The Surprising Health Benefits of Chocolate
If you need any validation for your chocoholic tendencies, look no further.
For starters, chocolate — particularly dark chocolate — is replete with wonder-mineral magnesium. I’ve worked with registered dietitian Lisa Mastela, RD, MPH, for years (on a personal and professional level), who explains that this is why many women reach for chocolate as comfort food during menstruation: the high concentration of magnesium can help alleviate cramping, relax tension and improve mood, and may help with sleep, too.
This is also (among other reasons) why it’s common to see chocolate milk as a finisher’s replenishment option at the end of endurance events like half marathons. And in addition to magnesium, dark chocolate is high in iron, manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. But wait, there’s more! It’s also an excellent source of antioxidants. So yes, friends… chocolate is a superfood, thank you for asking.
Keep in mind — this research is looking at dark chocolate (i.e., cacao) doing the heavy lifting; sugar has the opposite effects. All these good benefits come from that beautiful, bountiful cacao plant, which can easily be lost in the processing of packaged, cheap food that unfortunately litters the shelves of American grocery stores. This is where your health education comes in: be smart with your chocolate purchases! If you’re aiming to reap the physiological benefits of cacao and its magical properties, stick with high percentage dark chocolate from good quality manufacturers.
I Ate Chocolate For 7 Days Straight & Here’s What Happened
Did I always stick to the aforementioned high percentage, healthy dark chocolate? No. But it’s about baaaalance, friend! Here’s a peek at my week.
Day 1: S’mores (for my birthday!)
I kicked off this week of chocolate in the most celebratory way: birthday s’mores. I had a few friends over, and we made s’mores in the firepit with classic Hershey’s chocolate bars. Is this a healthy choice? From a physiological standpoint, no… not really. But from a mental and emotional standpoint, absolutely. This is one of those moments when food is a means of connection, memory, and joy — we were in the moment, creating our charred little treats, savoring the moment (and the chocolate).
Day 2: Cacao Smoothie
I recently discovered Ka’Chava complete meal shakes thanks to my fitness-obsessed best friend and have been obsessed. Whether you choose a cacao protein powder, this particular meal shake, or make your own mood boosting cacao smoothie, this is a refreshing (and healthy!) way to incorporate delicious chocolate into your wholesome eating plan.
Day 3: Dark Chocolate
Before bed, I had a few squares of dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s as a little nightcap. For me, the flavor of dark chocolate is so intense, I don’t feel the need to binge or eat a ton of it; I can just have a few bites and feel like my cravings are completely satiated. It also keeps me from going nuts on a heavy, calorically dense dessert when all I need is a morsel of something sweet.
Day 4: Chocolate Milk
Like I said earlier… there’s a reason you can find chocolate milk at many race finish lines! It’s a great combo of quick carbohydrates and protein. I personally love chocolate milk as a post-workout drink, so I had mine after I did an intense 44 minutes of 20/20 HIIT with Danielle. If you’re not lactose intolerant, I’d highly recommend this one! Try making your own chocolate milk with raw cacao and organic maple syrup for a less processed, more health-centric mix.
Day 5: Açaí Bowl With Cacao & Dark Chocolate
One of my favorite breakfasts is a smoothie bowl, and I *love* açaí. I haven’t ever been into açaí plus chocolate, so I figured this was the week to experiment… and I’m so thrilled I did. I added a little cacao to the mix and topped my bowl with raspberries and dark chocolate pieces, and it truly felt like dessert for breakfast — but it was an insane mood booster.
Day 6: Healthified Hot Chocolate
Since it’s getting chillier, I went for this tasty, FitOn hot superfood cocoa drink. There’s something so soothing about a warm, sweet drink on a fall day, you know? The mix of chocolate and spice reminds me of a Mexican hot chocolate (another one of my favs) but in a lighter, more nourishing way.
Day 7: Brownie
The finale on Saturday? A chewy, chocolatey brownie from my favorite local shop. Brownies are perhaps my favorite food of all time (and the one food I don’t seem to have a fullness cue with!) so limiting it to one was a nice little exercise in self-control.
The results: I feel joyful! It was such a good week, and it was such a pleasure to be able to focus on making (or buying) myself a delicious chocolate treat every single day. Whether it’s a melty, warm pain au chocolat from the French bakery or a cacao-and-kale superfood smoothie blend, chocolate can add a little bit of happiness to your dietary routine.
Context: The Rest of My Diet
I think it’s important to point out that my chocolate treats were balanced by the rest of my diet. I don’t restrict myself, and I eat intuitively (this is part of my personal nutrition practice), but I love vegetables and tend to have cravings for healthier foods and feel satiated by smaller amounts of sweeter, richer foods (unless, of course, it’s brownies). So keep in mind that this snapshot into my treats for the week is a very small sliver of what I consumed over the course of seven days. One meal, for example, was shrimp, asparagus, sauteed spinach, and a small serving of angel hair pasta (protein, lots of greens, some carbs… you get it).
My Favorite Healthy Chocolate
My favorite way? All of the ways! Even writing this and mentioning that pain au chocolat just a minute ago, I already want to drive to that French place and get a buttery croissant with melted dark chocolate in the center.
That’s the beauty of chocolate, IMO. It’s so versatile and can be incorporated into your menu in so many ways. Whether it’s solo, with fruit, blended with vegetables, baked, frozen, powdered… it’s a wonder to behold (and consume).
If I had to choose, I’d have to say the smoothie bowl this week really blew me away. In terms of a ‘healthier’ way to eat chocolate, I was happily surprised by how much I liked a chocolate-açaí berry smoothie bowl blend. I will totally be making that one again!
So like I mentioned, this experiment brought lots of joy to my everyday life and routine. Chocolate really is a mood booster, folks! As far as weight, performance, and other health metrics — to be honest, I’m exactly the same as I was seven days ago. No weight fluctuations, no sluggishness, no sugar highs or crashes. It’s kind of funny how completely normal (and healthy, of course!) I feel.
To me, this merely proves that a balanced approach to health is the best way to maintain your body and mind’s perfect equilibrium. I’m not a scientist, but the “conclusion” of this “study” would read: cacao = homeostasis.
While I’m not a Ph.D. researcher, I *am* a certified nutrition coach, so here’s my takeaway from the week and this experiment: find foods that bring you joy and learn more about them. Add mindfulness to your mealtimes; this simple act of awareness is healthy in and of itself (studies even show it can aid in weight loss if that’s a goal you have in mind). No one should be deprived of joy, and the more you can make the practice of eating a joyful and mindful experience, the more you can build on healthy and positive habits in other areas of your life.
Eating treats and eating healthy are not mutually exclusive ideas; they can live hand and hand, in harmony, if you’re going about it mindfully and intentionally.