Chocolate and the Sweetness of Life
When my husband and I married, almost twenty-one years ago, we exchanged pieces of chocolate as part of our wedding ceremony. The event was conducted by my mentor and friend, Diana Vela. At the point when Tom and I fed each other chocolate, Diana spoke these words on our behalf:
“I, Tom, share with you the sweetness of my soul, and may we share in the light and food of life together. I, Lisa, share with you the sweetness of my soul, and may we share in the light and food of life together.”
Although I had always loved chocolate, its sweetness took on a new layer of meaning for me in that sacred moment!
Years before, I’d read that there are chemicals in chocolate that make us feel loved. If you enjoy chocolate, you know intuitively that eating chocolate makes you feel happy, at least for the moment! And scientists who have researched this subject report that eating chocolate increases serotonin, the feel-good chemical in the brain, and also releases endorphins, a brain activity that inhibits pain and brings a feeling of euphoria. All of this is achieved by eating just a bit of chocolate, a piece the size of a gourmet truffle!
What is Ayurveda’s take on chocolate? Let me share my conclusion based on study and a lot of personal experience! Eating a modest amount of chocolate from time to time is just fine. Eating too much disturbs all the doshas. Chocolate straight-up increases vata and pitta. And we rarely eat chocolate without at least some sugar, which also increases kapha. Chocolate contains theobromine, a natural stimulant similar to caffeine, which is why a large dose of chocolate may keep vata types awake at night.
Some practitioners who adhere strictly to Ayurvedic principles will tell you not to eat chocolate at all, but I prefer a more moderate approach. When we go to a restaurant on special occasions, nine times out of ten I order a dessert that’s chocolate. And some days when I’m working at home and want a treat, I have a few stevia-sweetened chocolate chips. I once heard Dr. Vasant Lad say that it’s healthier to follow an Ayurvedic diet 70 or 80 percent of the time—while occasionally enjoying the foods that fall outside our doshic prescription—than it is to follow the diet so rigidly that our longing for those forbidden foods causes us to dismiss Ayurveda altogether!
So on this Valentine’s Day, I hope you rise above any sense of guilt, if you’re prone to such feelings, and become totally absorbed in the pure—if momentary—joy of your chocolate indulgence!
Wishing you love!