The “one month no chocolate” experience
by Nina de Haan
On a wintry day Saskia and I radically decided to quit on chocolate for one month. The month March it would be. So we would not be having chocolate of any form; neither cacao, cacaoless white chocolate nor food with chocolate aroma of any sort. The idea behind this boycott was to become more conscious about our sugar consumption and that maybe after this month we would enjoy chocolate even more than we already do! Here you can read on our experiences and findings.
Nina’s chocolate diary
I was determined to just not eat chocolate for a while, as some sort of detox and to become more conscious about my sugar consumption. I could’ve also banned all sugar treats, but chocolate covers about 80% of my sugar intake so this seemed sufficient. I have done this before a few years ago and I remember that I caught myself eating chocolate about four times that one month.
Okay here goes. I started really good by resisting all chocolate things that came near me, just as brownies made by my mom (on the first of March, really?!), banana custard with chocolate sprinkles and tiramisu ice cream (I looove tiramisu!). So far so good. On March 9 Saskia came over for our very first true girls night, oh yeah, and then my visiting aunt served pie (one of the super sweet foamy kind!) with a small amount of chocolate on top. We ate it. Most of the chocolate was camouflaged, so that doesn’t count, right? Plus karma already got me by allowing the nuts on the side to make my throat itch.
Back on track! It went quite well actually, apart from that one time. What I was missing most is having chocolate sprinkles on bread. Other sweet toppings are just less nice. Celebrating Pi Day had some restrictions now, but the pumpkin pie was very good so it didn’t matter. March covers the run to Easter which means chocolate eggs! It is quite easy to not buy them, looking at the price tags, and I haven’t taken one of the eggs presented in bowls when paying in stores. Yeah! I was glad to realize that I like cinnamon, gingerbread cookies (the Dutch ‘speculaas’) and coconut about equally as chocolate.
It can only go downhill from here. This winter I developed the habit of buying chocolate chip cookies whenever it was freaking cold on a train station, which was quite often, to comfort myself and to be able to enjoy the warmth of the kiosk for a moment. I hadn’t done this in March until the 22th, but that day I had a good reason to be eating consolation chocolate. When I arrived at my parents, my mom offered me home made cake with some chocolate cream spots in it. Well, okay. If it changes anything: it didn’t really taste like chocolate to me.
From that moment on, I kind of stopped caring about the chocolate free project. I kept keeping track of my chocolate intake, though, which was quite confronting.
24: I had chocolate sprinkles on a slice of bread and a Dutch ‘negerzoen’ or ‘zoen’. This is some kind of cream with a layer of chocolate on it. – 27: I ate chocolate rice cakes – and I don’t care. – 30: We had festive breakfast in our house and I wanted chocolate sprinkles to be involved for me. Plus a roommate and me made (vegan! – except sprinkles) cupcakes with cacao and I ate 1,5 of them (half weren’t with cacao, see picture). They were really good! Plus I bought another chocolate chip cookie on the train station while heading to my parents, but I totally had the right because I had all kinds of traveling troubles and it took me ages to get there. – 31: Easter breakfast with again chocolate sprinkles. The big five were in there. I had a leopard and an elephant. They’re hanging in my stomach while writing this. Oh yeah.
This project made me realize that it’s quite possible to not eat chocolate (I didn’t succeed, though), while still having enough nice things to eat, but that it may only require some more creativity, but that’s a good thing actually. I do think this March was a bad moment for me to be doing this, mostly because of the persistent cold and me seeking for comfort, but also because of my college situation which tends to lack structure these days. Excuses, excuses… I don’t think I will be trying this again. Though, I will keep trying to be conscious of what I eat and to enjoy it to the fullest. Yeah.
Saskia’s no-chocolate diary
My reason for doing this was to get more conscious on how much chocolate I actually eat. I have done a one-week-no-chocolate a while ago, and when Nina told me she was trying to make it through one month without chocolate, I decided to join in. It was terrible.
The first day, I almost failed because my mum only bought chocolate desserts. Luckily, I noticed before I started eating, or I would have already failed on day one. My mum totally forgot and thought I was stupid for leaving them for her, but I had no intention whatsoever to eat chocolate on day one. Or on any other day in March for that matter. And that was pretty difficult.
The hardest things to reject were for me Nutella, easter eggs and hot chocolate. When I make sandwiches, there’s always something chocolatey. Whether it’s Nutella, chocolate sprinkles or flakes, I need my chocolate on my bread. Luckily, I could still eat peanut butter and ‘Speculoos’ (spread that tastes like speculaas, Dutch gingerbread cookies as Nina said before) because otherwise, I would have failed miserably. It was so incredibly hard not to take a chocolate easter egg out of our bowl, because my mum kept refilling it for her and my sister anyway. I was surprised by how many cookies contain chocolate and that made grocery shopping quite hard. ‘Nope, can’t have that, it’s chocolate.’ People in the store probably thought I have an allergy for chocolate, because sometimes I’d just go to the clerks and ask if chocolate was involved in the product if the ingredients didn’t show on the package.
I’m proud to say I fulfilled the project. Apart from the tiny bits of chocolate that were on the cake we ate at Nina’s place, there was no chocolate in my system for the entire month. And I can safely say: I’ll be never doing it again. In the end, I didn’t really miss the chocolate, I was just really annoyed by the fact I had to check every little thing for its ingredients. My sister even forbid me to do it again whilst I live with her, because she was pissed grocery shopping took so long.
The big conclusion we draw from our stories? It’s not nice to not be able to eat chocolate and it not necessarily helps you to be more conscious about your sugar consumption in general. It does make you realize how much chocolate you normally eat, but it’s easy to just go and eat the same amount of sugar without having chocolate and then it won’t really help. It does make you more creative and you might discover healthier substitutes, but there’s no guarantee whatsoever (or course there isn’t). We both didn’t like the no-chocolate restriction so we suggest you don’t repeat this experiment and just eat chocolate whenever you feel like it and enjoy it.