We like to think our cravings can all be broken down into statistics and neat graphs to help us explain the near addiction to foods such as chocolate. Consider this attempt by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition to sum up American chocolate consumption (bold and italic highlights by the author):
“Although consumed in some form since at least 460 AD, cacao (Theobroma cacao) was not used in confectionery until the 19th century when the cocoa press was invented. Per capita consumption of chocolate confectionery in the United States is moderate (approximately 4.6-4.8 kg/y) compared with that of many northern European countries (approximately 7-10 kg/y). Eleven percent of the US population reported consuming chocolate candy on > or = 1 of the 3 days of recorded food intake in the US Department of Agriculture Nationwide Food Consumption Survey 1987-1988; < 1.0% consumed chocolate every day. The Western region of the United States contained the highest proportion of chocolate consumers. More whites than other racial groups were consumers. Chocolate was consumed by more people in the winter than in other seasons and more was consumed at snacks than at meals. The mean amount of chocolate consumed was approximately 30-90 g/d, depending on sex and age group. Chocolate candy was only a minor contributor (0.7-3.4%) to the overall dietary intake of total energy, fat, saturated fatty acids, and stearic acid.”
Well, is that all very interesting. Despite the fact that Americans are supposedly one of the fattest nations of people on earth (1 in 3 Americans are obese) we eat about 3kg less chocolate per year than most northern European countries on average.
But here’s the rub as to why Europeans are thinner and can afford to eat more chocolate without getting fat. They exercise more by walking. They eat smaller food portions. They also have fewer elevators. In other words, even in apparently passive modes, Europeans are more active. Which justifies an additional 3kg of chocolate per day.
You could be positively European in your dietary habits and enjoy the amount of chocolate you really love to consume if you do more than walk, climb steps and eat smaller food portions. Why, if you train hours and hours to run marathons or half marathons or do triathlons, you must consume calories in order to keep up with your nutritional needs. And chocolate won’t hurt you. Some even say dark chocolate helps clear your arteries like red wine. And those two do go together.
So buy yourself a workout kit from Italia or Germania or Great Britain kit and have at it people. Bring out your inner European and turn that chocolate STOP sign into a green light for some really fine chocolate.
Just steer clear of that grainy American chocolate junk that comes in bars or wrappers. Find yourself some handmade chocolate by a local confectioner. You’ll find that the quality gap is equivalent to the difference between wax and honey. Enjoy yourself.
And remember, Valentine’s Day is coming.
Faire fondre du chocolat et de l’étaler sur le corps de la personne que vous aimez, puis le manger off. Il vous rendra heureux. Non?