Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Tag: chocolate

Unlikely diet trick

Most Unlikely Weight Loss Trick Revealed by Psych Experiment

This has to be one of the most counter-intuitive, and most unlikely weight loss trick, or dieting tip ever.

Apparently, just looking at endless pictures of foods can make them less enjoyable to eat, a recent study has found. While a few photos might enhance the appetite, contrary to what you’d expect, people are actually put off the taste by looking at loads of pictures of food.

Professor Ryan Elder, who led the study, which is published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, said:

“In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food.

It’s sensory boredom — you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience any more.”

What’s happening is that each time you look at another photograph of some food, you get less pleasure from it.

Like the first taste of chocolate mousse giving you a frisson, the first photograph whets your appetite.

But each subsequent picture — like each subsequent mouthful of mousse — is less and less exciting, until you get sick of it.

The Instagram diet

In the studies themselves, hundreds of people looked at and rated pictures of food (Larson et al., 2013).

One experiment had half the participants looking at pictures of salty foods like French fries and pretzels, while the other half looked at sweet foods like ice cream and chocolate.

Afterwards, they rated their pleasure from eating both salty and sweet foods.

People who’d been looking at salty foods gave lower pleasure ratings to the salty foods and people who’d been looking at sweet pictures gave lower ratings to the sweet foods.

The study found that the more pictures they looked at, the less pleasure people got from related foods.

Professor Elder explained:

“You do have to look at a decent number of pictures to get these effects.

It’s not like if you look at something two or three times you’ll get that satiated effect.

That’s good news for food-photo enthusiasts, because, let’s be honest, showing everyone the awesome food you’re eating really is cool.”

For those trying to enhance their pleasure, rather than reduce it, co-author, Jeff Larson, had this advice:

“If you want to enjoy your food consumption experience, avoid looking at too many pictures of food.

Even I felt a little sick to my stomach during the study after looking at all the sweet pictures we had.”


Comfort food

Diet Tip: The Unexpected Effect of Comfort Food and Bad Moods

81% of people believe comfort foods improve a low mood, but are they correct? The truth about comfort food and bad moods.

Contrary to what most people believe, comfort food does not improve a low mood, a new study finds.

The research, published in the journal Health Psychology, found that people who ate nothing recovered from a bad mood just as quickly as those who ate their preferred comfort food (Wagner et al., 2014).

The results come from a study in which people were asked to list the type of foods they ate to recover from a bad mood — chocolate was the most popular. They then watched an 18-minute video that was guaranteed to make them anxious, afraid and depressed.

Comfort Food and Bad Moods

After watching the depressing video, (across three different studies) people were given either:

  1. Their preferred comfort food.
  2. A neutral food (a granola bar).
  3. No food.

Then their mood was measured. Here is how the researchers describe their results, which were pretty clear-cut:

“Comfort foods led to significant improvements in mood, but no more than other foods or no food.

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Although people believe that comfort foods provide them with mood benefits, comfort foods do not provide comfort beyond that of other foods (or no food).”

The fact that all groups felt better after a time is likely due to the psychological immune system, our natural ability to recover from bad moods.

So, people were giving the credit to the comfort food for something their minds were doing automatically.

The researchers conclude:

“We found no justification for people to choose comfort foods when they are distressed.

Removing an excuse for eating a high-calorie or high-fat food may help people develop and maintain healthier eating habits, and may lead them to focus on other, food-free methods of improving their mood.

You don’t need comfort food to feel better; the mind will do the trick all on its own if you give it time.”


More Good News for Chocolate Lovers

Research suggests dark chocolate may help people suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. According to a study presented at the International Liver Congress, eating dark chocolate may help people suffering from cirrhosis by reducing damage to blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.

Unfortunately, white or milk chocolate does not appear to have the same benefits. But before you go rushing for the nearest box of chocolates, there are a few things to bear in mind. Most commercial chocolate bars are stuffed with saturated fat, trans fat, artificial sweeteners and lots of sugar. To get any benefit out of your chocolate you need to look for dark organic raw chocolate with no artificial additives.

But remember … moderation is the key. Gorging on a whole bar will probably just make you feel sick!

The health benefits of chocolate lie in the antioxidant properties of cocoa beans. Eating dark chocolate or xocai could actually be good for you. Studies have shown antioxidants in dark chocolate can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, can reduce high pressure and improve insulin sensitivity. Eating xocai in moderation may even help with weight loss due to its low fat content.

Dark Chocolate Antioxidants

Cocoa beans are full of compounds called flavanoids which are also found in onions, strawberries, cranberries, apples and red wine. More than 4,000 of these provide antioxidant protection. The flavanols found in cocoa beans prevent fat substances in the arteries from clogging, reducing the risk of heart attack and strokes. Cocoa beans also contain magnesium which is important for a healthy heart.


Xocai is a mix of dark chocolate and acai berries, both of which have powerful antioxidant capabilities. The name xocai is made up of two words: the Aztec word xocolatl and the acai berry found in the Amazon rain forest. It is low in fat, low in sugar and high in antioxidants. In moderation, it is recommended for anyone wanting to lose weight but still eat chocolate. Acai berries have been used for hundreds of years in Brazil and are prized for their ability to provide strength and energy and for their high nutrient content.

Cocoa Beans

Flavanols in cocoa beans also regulate nitric oxide which is important for cardiovascular health and promotes healthy blood flow and healthy blood pressure. One study in Italy found chocolate lowered blood pressure. Researchers concluded this may be because cocoa beans support the body’s ability to synthesize nitric oxide. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also reported that chocolate decreased blood pressure and improved insulin sensitivity.

The Health Benefits of Chocolate

The flavanols and antioxidants found in cocoa beans produce the real health benefits of chocolate. These are the substances that make chocolate bitter. To reap these benefits, it is important to eat dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Milk and white chocolate have virtually no health benefits. Commercial chocolate bars are generally loaded with sugar and fat and processing removes most of its antioxidant flavonoids.

Healthy Chocolate

Most of the fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of three different types: oleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid. Oleic acid is found in olive oil and is heart healthy fat. Stearic acid is neutral, and not particularly good or bad, but palmitic acid is not something to eat in large amounts. However, it really only makes up around a third of the fat content in chocolate so eating small amounts is unlikey to do much harm. Really healthy chocolate should contain around 60 percent cocoa and is normally more expensive than cheap brands which often replace the expensive cocoa butter with milk fats and hydrogenated oils.

Do you have a health challenge that you’d like to discuss with me? I offer online Naturopathic and Nutrition Consultations. Fill out my forms here to book your personal consultation with me.

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Thank you for reading!


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