Thought chocolate was only a late-in-the-day dessert or a weekend treat? Think again. The benefits of chocolate are manifold and can actually spill over into giving you a better work week on the whole. So let’s come to the point: is chocolate really bad for you? Calorically speaking, 100g chocolate, dark or milk, has approximately 550 calories. So in effect that is equivalent to a meal when it comes to counting calories but hardly a balanced one. How then, could you make chocolate work for you, especially at work?
No, aromatherapists do not really advise you to hold up a chocolate bar to your nose and inhale the essence till your mouth and your eyes water – but a chocolate essential oil may just do the trick. The olfactory sense is one of the strongest in us and smelling chocolate in the form of its essential oil, as opposed to the synthetic fragrances used in OTC candles etc, can actually trigger the same sense of euphoria that comes with eating a bar. The smell and taste of chocolate triggers the release of endorphins aka the happy hormones – the same chemical process that happens when you have an orgasm or hit the gym. And the rush is likelier to be happier since it comes without the calories!
Cocoa Advice: A stressful day at work can be counteracted with the calming and rejuvenating properties of chocolate – simply by using an aromatherapy vaporizer or diluter at home to spread the fragrance while you sit in a darkened corner and simply concentrate on breathing. Breathe in, breathe out – play some relaxing music and let chocolate give you a high.
You cannot talk about chocolate without biting into it now, can you? But chocolate does come with its fair share of calories from its sugar and fat content so eating it comes with good and bad benefits. To get the best out of a chocolate bar – experts advise get one with at least 70 percent of cocoa – this way you can eat less chocolate to curb those calories and get the most out of your bar. So in short, a square or two of dark chocolate a day reduces cardiovascular risk, makes for a fuller dessert, produces happier babies in case of pregnant mommas who eat chocolate, might actually fight diabetes, decreases stress and anxiety hormones, can protect you from sun damage, boosts brain power, sooths a sore throat and can stop those trots in their tracks! All in all, chocolate in moderation is pretty healthy and does give you a high.
Cocoa Advice: Eating a square a two or even having a hot cup of cocoa before a meeting that’s giving you the jitters is an effective way of pepping yourself – this ensures the release of those happy hormones, eases away the stress plus also tunes your brain to behave a tad sharply and a lot more productively.
Eating chocolate also benefits the skin. Since it reduces stress and has plenty of anti-oxidants, in moderation chocolate can make you look younger and fresher on the whole. Also, our skin is porous and can actually absorb many chemicals during direct contact. Using chocolate directly or as part of an ingredient in a skin care mask aids in the exfoliation of dead skin cells revealing the younger and fresher skin underneath. As an added factor, chocolate interferes with the sun’s ability to play nasty with the skin and thus is a great UV inhibitor.
Cocoa Advice: While it’s easy to simply pick up a beauty product off the shelves containing chocolate, it’s equally easy to whip up a chocó-mask at home that can give your skin some much needed TLC. You can also choose to add in some coffee grounds since caffeine is said to target skin cellulite and is anti-inflammatory in nature which makes it excellent for puffy eyes or reddened skin.
To make the mask, choose full-cream milk for dry skin, skimmed milk for normal skin and for oily skin use yoghurt – blitz 5tbsp each of cocoa powder and coffee with enough milk or yoghurt to form a smooth paste. Spread it on your skin all over and let it stay for 7-10 minutes. Shower off for a smoother appearance that is certain to give you a more confident day at office especially during that important meet, choice interview or even the office party that you want to dazzle at. The aromatherapy effects are a fringe benefit!
Three ways of incorporating chocolate into your workday and putting cocoa to work as well – without the additional burden of unwanted calories.