By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
It's still fall but we got our first significant snowstorm at Lake Tahoe...and it's not over. More of that white stuff is going to dump outside tonight. Sure, I like the storm part--before and during. After it's all done, not so much. Tourists and some locals like to play in the white powder but if you live here it's not fun to shovel the deck, keep the wood clean and dry (more shoveling), and walk the pooches in three feet of snow and walk like a penguin on icy asphalt. (Snow removal service doesn't do these tasks.) And that's where sweet dark chocolate and/or cocoa comes in...
So I'm a fall gal, and I find myself facing Old Man Winter. It's a time when I feel irritable, and fed up with the shorter days, colder nights, and lack of sunshine and warmth. It's enough to make a person feel blue and out of whack. Welcome to the world of seasonal affective disorder. But don't despair. Hot chocolate comes to the rescue.
When your serotonin level is low, you may feel down. The happy fact is, dark chocolate contains serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that can make you feel happier and improve brain power and memory. It is a compound in chocolate that can also provide a calming effect. Also, tryptophan, the essential amino acid in chocolate may react like mood-boosting, calming serotonin, helping to alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress.
The bottom line: While light therapy and exercise can and do ease SAD, nutritional experts belive that happy foods--like dark chocolate and cocoa--are important, too. A bonus: Grab the best, such as Lake Champlain Chocolates to Ghirardelli Chocolate. To get a comprehensive Resource List of my fave chocolatiers and premium chocolate, grab a copy of my book, The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, 2010), available at online bookstores or have your local bookstore order it for you.