About three years ago, I went on this quest to get my health in order. I started to learn about Ayurveda, l began a new gentle practice of Yin Yoga and I took a stab at meditation. In gaining all this wisdom, it led me to a natural path doctor. We reviewed my health history and I mentioned that I saw a homeopath doctor once a month for five years. I had been seeking holistic solutions for myself and the family for years. The natural path doctor gave me so much insight into my health that it actually overwhelmed me and it stressed me out. One of the tools she used to evaluate my symptoms was a food journal. She told me to cut all fried foods, nuts, nut milks, nut butters, all dairy, gluten, all nightshade foods (tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes etc), white sugar products and caffeine. For years, I was asked to cut things out of my diet but I never believed it was necessary. Since I was determined to figure out my health issues, I agreed to write everything down. A week later, I came back to the natural path doctor and she reviewed my journal. It wasn’t hard to cut most of the list out of my diet but I needed to work on fried foods, nightshades and white sugar products. I thought for my first week, I did pretty well until she commented on the desserts that I listed each day. I told her that I would try harder the next week but dessert would be a struggle to give up. She also made a note that I had not cut out the caffeine. I was defensive. I don’t drink caffeine. Oh but according to my journal, I eat chocolate every single day. My mouth dropped to the floor. There is caffeine in chocolate?!
Well there was NO WAY I was giving up chocolate! For weeks I continued to show her my food journal and every day I listed chocolate on there. The doctor finally said, “When you are ready to figure out your health, you can call me but until you give up everything I ask, then I can’t help you.” WTF? I was pissed. That conversation took place the day before my 44th birthday. The next day I ate my organic, gluten-free, chocolate birthday cake but I didn’t touch chocolate for 2 weeks after that. I had finally done it! I was proud that I made the commitment to cutting out everything the doctor asked me. She said I could slowly introduce the items back into my meals and you bet I added chocolate right back. But guess what. I couldn’t sleep that night. I decided not to eat chocolate the next day. I was fine. I ate chocolate again and did not fall asleep until about 4am. I thought it was coincidental so I waited until I could determine for sure if chocolate was the culprit effecting my sleep. I ate chocolate one more time and sure enough, I did not fall asleep that night. I tossed and turned. Pissed at the irony of not drinking a drop of caffeine (I have missed coffee for years) and eating so clean except my damn “all-organic-high-in-cacao-only-made-with-natural-sugar” freakin chocolate. I lay in bed that night just mad at the world. Really? Is this happening? I told the doctor at my next appointment and she asked if chocolate was worth the sleepless nights? I asked her to give me something so I can eat chocolate and sleep at night. Apparently, she thought I was kidding because I got nothing. Needless to say, I stopped going to that doctor. Which is a bummer because she is very good and I do wish I could ask her more about my health.
Four years in a row - chocolate cakes. My 43rd birthday cake was a chocolate Tres Leches cake. I could not find a picture of my 44th birthday cake. Hmmm, perhaps the chocolate, gluten-free cake didn't make the cut.
Every time I see something smothered in chocolate, I can truly say that I don’t even sneak a bite or feel like I'm missing out when I pass it up. Instead, the memory of lost sleep for three nights haunts me and I won’t risk losing another night of sleep. It would not be worth it since I am the primary care giver in my family and it is hard to steer the ship on no sleep. Two and half years have passed since I said goodbye to chocolate and fortunately, I have found plenty of alternatives to satisfy my sweet tooth. But there are also so many things about chocolate that I miss and no substitutes can ever replace how they taste and/or make me feel.
I miss having a scoop of Sebastian Joe’s Nicolette Pothole ice cream with my family and a Cold Stone’s “Love it” size of Mud Pie Mojo with my brother or my BFF. I miss my mother-in-law’s Christmas chocolate fudge with walnuts. I miss my husband’s assistant’s most addicting toffee that she gives us every year for Christmas. It has the thinnest layer of chocolate. I miss the chocolate covered caramels that my neighbor “deals” me. She has a connection to the Caramel Queen in St. Paul. Eat a piece of her chocolate caramel and before you’re finished chewing it, you have already opened the next one. Pretty soon you’ve eaten 5 and you feel sick. It doesn’t matter though. You start all over again the next day. We call it crack. And I’ve tried to keep up my “habit” but the caramels without the chocolate cover are not as addicting. I miss my “Kissmas” cookies - the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey Kiss shoved in the center - the ones I make with the kids for Santa. I miss hot chocolate - there is no substitute for a nice cup of it on a cold day. I miss S’mores - somehow only eating the melted marshmallows and graham crackers just doesn’t cut it. I miss throwing a box of Raisinets into my movie theater popcorn when I'm with my family watching the next animated hit or Star Wars movie. I miss Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. And finally I miss Rustica’s Bittersweet Chocolate cookies which were introduced to me as a thoughtful pinch when my friend dropped off a meal after my son was born. I have since passed along the pinch to new mamas sometimes when I drop off meals for them or I have dropped off a dozen when someone's had a tough day.
Everything else chocolate related, I have no problem walking away from. Brownies, chocolate cake, cookies, Nutella, pudding etc. I can handle saying good bye to all of them. With the exception of Reese's PB Cups, most of the chocolate that I miss are tied to a thoughtful pinch or a nostalgic feeling - a memory of warmth and comfort. I don’t miss all chocolate. Just the ones I mentioned. If I ever get an answer to my health issues and someone tells me that the caffeine in chocolate will not effect me anymore, I’m going straight back to the things I have missed for years. Sometimes I wonder if the lack of my favorite chocolate IS the real health issue. But I found a quote by one of our favorite authors J.K. Rowling, "Then she thought bitterly that it would be much easier to resist chocolate if her life were less stressful." Amen.