It seems that chocolate is one of the most popular items that people feel guilt-ridden into giving up at Lent.
But, accordng to one expert, this may not be the best way to reduce your consumption.
After cramming on pancakes the day before, omitting chocolate from your diet for forty days is for some a way of rationalising and rectifying the calorie intake.
Lent for certain folk may have more religious connotations. It’s a period of prayer, remembrance and spiritual growth. However, most people that surrender something for the forty days feels that it’s a period of self-control and sacrifice.
I’m Stacey Collins, I’m a self confessed chocoholic and my mission is to abolish chocolate from my diet until the 4th of April, that’s only 39 more days to go, in a bid to cut down on the ‘good stuff’ forever. My reputation as a chocoholic saw me receiving scorn as soon as I made my challenge ‘Facebook official’ - as chocolate has made itself very comfortable in my lifestyle and is a regular component at each of my three meals a day, yes, even breakfast.
The absence of chocolate from my diet for Lent may be beneficial for my body - but is removing it temporarily really the best way of removing it completely?
In order to resolve this question I spoke to Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum who is a Nutrition Scientist at British Nutrition Foundation. She advised me that if you give up chocolate for health reasons, then you should put it into a broader context. For example, if you give up chocolate but indulge in other high saturated fat foods such as crisps and chips instead, your chocolate forfeit will be futile.
‘It’s good to treat yourself,’ explains Elisabeth, ‘but you need to have a healthy diet’.
But what does a ‘healthy diet’ consist of? For too many, it will conjure images of soggy brussel sprouts, limp lettuce and starving yourself of all tasty morsels but as the Food Standards Agency ‘Eatwell Plate’ highlights, treats are accepted as part of the balanced diet.
Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum recommends that if you are trying to cut out chocolate, you should not cut it out all together - as you will just want it more. That does not give us ladies the permission to go on a celebratory chocolate binge but does emphasise the fact that you should provide yourself with the odd treat.
The ultimate question therefore is: can I continue eating chocolate for Lent?
‘Definitely!’ exclaims Elisabeth. As long as we are aware that chocolate should just be a treat, it will be much easier to cut down on the Cadbury Crème Eggs when Lent has finished and Easter arrives, she says.
On the other hand, if I continue to eat chocolate, will my old gorging habits resurface?
So, do I use Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum’s advice to justify my chocolate vice or should I continue with the challenge of removing chocolate from my diet completely?
It's all food for thought…