When we cut sugar from our diet, we start with the obvious: bread, pasta, sugary drinks, desserts, sweets, etc. But nowadays almost everything has sugar in it. If what you’re eating comes packaged or has been processed, chances are that among the incomprehensible scientific information on the label, you’ll most likely recognize some form of added sugar. Especially in products advertised as low fat. Without the richness provided by fat—or umami flavors—many products don’t have much taste, and producers often make up for it by adding sugar.
To escape all this added sugar, we have to spend a good deal of time at the supermarket reading labels and do smart product switches. We exchange our grains for veggies, our rice for salad and we choose Greek yogurt with fresh fruit instead of the flavored ones filled with sugar. But at first, these will all taste like dull versions of what we used to eat! We’re just not used to the pure, unaltered flavor of food and it takes some weeks to make the adjustment.
What if I told you there’s shortcut to adjusting your palate? And that the shortcut is dark chocolate?! No doubt you’ve have already heard about dark chocolate’s health benefits—its fiber, nutrients, antioxidants and its possible improvement of cholesterol and insulin sensitivity—from all the good publicity its has gotten in recent years. But dark chocolate can also help you cleanse your palate from sugary foods and help you rediscover the natural sweetness that exists in savory foods such as onions, peppers, cheeses, berries and yogurt. I was surprised to find out for myself how much sweeter these savory foods became in contrast to the dark chocolate I started eating! Most importantly, as a result of eating dark chocolate, I was able to break up with sugar and satisfy my sugar cravings with foods that have a healthier ratio of sugar to other ingredients.
Do note that if you’re used to very low-cocoa chocolate or white chocolate, the switch can be difficult. With my sweet tooth, I thought it would be impossible! I used to despise dark chocolate and frown every time I saw it invading the sweets aisle at the store. If this is you, try starting with some of the bars that are 50-55% cocoa. Have a little piece before dinner and see how it goes. I found other good ‘palate transition’ chocolates to be ones with orange in them, such as Nero Perugina Sfoglie Arancia (70%), which comes in little thin rectangles ideal for tasting.
Cutting back on sugar is not only a matter of cutting out the baked goods and candy in our lives but also a matter of becoming more mindful of our diet and more deliberate in our food choices. Rather than simply an addition to this way of eating, dark chocolate can serve as a much-needed transition to a more mindful way of eating.