Hershey sent me a press release just before the year ended geared to diet and health. At first I scoffed, but the more I read the better it sounded. Here's the story:
Bob Greene is a noted exercise physiologist. His first book, a New York Times best-seller published in 1996 and co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, was Make the Connection: Ten Steps To A Better Body--And A Better Life. His most recent book, also a best-seller, was published last November: The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes.
Greene is the founder of Best Life, an umbrella organization designed to help people achieve their own personal best life. Among other things, Best Life bestows a "seal of approval" on foods that are both easily available and offer healthy benefits. One of those products is Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate, available in most supermarkets nationwide and less expensive than more boutique brands.
Naturally, the Hershey Company is pleased about all of this and is now running a campaign that highlights Best Life, Bob Greene, Greene's "Best Life Diet" plan, and--of course, Hershey's extra dark chocolate. But that's a good thing. The diet makes sense, and we all know dark chocolate is good for you in moderation. Let me stress those two important words: in moderation. If you sit down and gobble up an entire bar of chocolate, you are doing your body no favor.
The Best Life Diet is a three-phased plan developed by Greene that helps people to live healthy lifestyles. To keep living your best life in 2010, Greene recommends three easy-to-follow steps as a part of the Best Life Diet:
- Change Habits: Making a few key adjustments to your routine can mean big results, both in terms of health and weight-loss. The dietary changes include eating three meals, a snack or two, and a treat, and curtailing eating and drinking at least two hours before bedtime. On the exercise front, aim to gradually add minutes to your regular workouts and keep up your intensity – it doesn’t matter if you’re walking or working out at the gym.
- Manage Hunger and Control Portions: Use Bob’s 10-point hunger scale to differentiate true hunger from emotional eating. Ideally, you should start a meal when you’re just beginning to get hungry, but not ravenous (a three or four on the hunger scale) and finish the meal when you’re at a five (you’re fairly satisfied, but could eat a little more) or six (perfectly comfortable and satisfied).
In Phase Two, you’ll also be zeroing in on portion sizes of all foods, including treats. Enjoying your favorite treats is key to sticking with a healthy-eating plan. The key is to keep a lid on portions. The number of calories you can spend on treats depends on how many total calories you can eat to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. (The more total calories you can eat, the more treat calories you can have. For instance, on 1,700 calories per day, you can have 150 treat calories, about three Hershey’s Extra Dark tasting squares.)
- Fine-Tune Your Diet: Include a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Colors are a good indicator of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that each food contains. Also, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds help maintain a well-rounded and wholesome diet.
Hershey's dark chocolate has its critics. Check out this post on Starling Fitness; it offers a jaundiced view of Bob Greene teaming up with Hershey, and points out that 3 squares of the chocolate are stated on the packaging to be 210 calories, not 150.
On the other hand, a 2008 study by Yale University Prevention Research Center, using Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; it found that consuming 75g of the chocolate lowered blood pressure and improved endothelial function in 45 participants two hours after consumption.
My advice, which I usually follow (except for occasional mouth-stuffing blips): exercise daily, eat lots of veggies and fruits, and enjoy anything else you want as long as you do it in moderation.