To Cacao or Not to Cacao

I’ve recently received a ton of questions about cacao and whether it’s Bright Line Eating friendly. My answer is nuanced and has everything to do with how the brain works. It’s all in this week’s vlog!

Comments

  1. sharon sielschott

    Thank you so much for doing this vlog this week. Timely! I witnessed myself purchasing something disguised as healthy – with added collagen and almonds – in the form of cacao. It terrified me that I made this impulse purchase on the back side of a couple of stacked frustrations. Thankfully, I did not open the package or eat it. Just the smell would be enough, I get that most acutely now after listening to your vlog. Sigh! I do not want to relapse after 273 bright line days. Timely, timely message. Thanks, SPT.

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  2. Carrie Shuman

    Thank you for the subject. I remember the family reunion that Ari took the hit from 250, mostly females, about the cacao debacle 😁
    I have been drinking cacao for the last couple of months in my peppermint tea after meals. I have been working VERY hard on healing my Hashimoto thyroiditis but I am still plagued by fatigue, especially after meals. There seems to be just enough (Caffeine?) to help me through the day. I am not a chocolate eater in another life…actually I was not a sweet eater either. Green tea matcha seems to drill a hole through my stomach where as this seems to be just enough pep to keep moving. If I had to give it up right here right now, no problem. That is how I gauge EVERYTHING. IF I can give anything up right here right now life is good. Yay for a program where everyone is an individual ❤️❤️❤️

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  3. Ana

    Thank you so much for explaining this! This topic actually represents a bigger problem with me; listening to me.
    I have read the science on cacao. My doctors recommended it. My friends have seen benefits from it. Every time I consumed it I would have a problem in the following days. It was not always a craving for more cacao. Everyone said it had to be something else. So I would research more and convince myself that it had to be something else. It is so difficult for me to accept my truth when all of the facts point to a different direction. Well you satisfied my need for scientific research that finally makes sense out of what happens when I eat cacao. I am very appreciative of that. Thank you Susan.

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    1. Ana

      Chocolate was never a trigger for me either (I think everything else is). This made it more confusing

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    2. Mary White

      This is a SUPERB VLOG. When I saw the topic, I laughed because, for me, cacao and anything else that mimics a former binge food, is poison to me. Your ability to explain the science and biochemistry underlying the addictive response is second to none. Cacao is for NON-food Addicts just like non-alcoholic beer is for NON-alcoholics. 😉
      Thank you for sharing your clarity with us!

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    3. Bright Line Eating

      So glad this vlog was helpful to you in answering some questions for your plan, Ana! <3

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  4. Stephanie Molnar Mowen

    Every once in awhile with one of these vlogs it is like you look into my soul, SPT. I have the book, have been in FA, and use (I won’t say work–I have too much respect for this program and all programs of its nature to say “I work” without being involved in the social support) a modified version of BLE in my life to varying degrees of success (I am a 7 and probably could use additional support, but that’s not the point of this post). However, recently I have been blinded by the allure of the cacao to the point of being on a massive plateau with seemingly no end in sight, because my brain keeps me locked in this cycle of “but it’s so healthy!” Now I CLEARLY see why/how. I may have teared up a bit during this vlog while sitting here ripping up the little dark chocolate wrapper next to my desk. Dang! That’s powerful stuff right there. Thank you.

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  5. Fiona UK

    Very interesting to hear that the dopamine spike from my cacao nibs could be driving my craving for peanut butter. I have had no inclination to eat chocolate as NMF and therefore thought I was safe. I will stop the nibs with ny seeds (as my fat) and see if it helps reduce the nut butter craving! Many thanks

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  6. Yaprak Buyukteoman

    LOVE this!!! Nuts do the same for me…

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  7. Lauren

    I love you so much! That is exactly my experience with cacao, too. I “ran the experiment “ and came to the same conclusion, cacao is not my food!

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  8. Kafui

    I’m high on the susceptibility scale and I did this experiment some time ago. What got my attention about cacao was the fact that cacao beans are the only beans that have compounds known to improve bad cholesterol. I was somebody who liked chocolate, but I didn’t go crazy with it, it wasn’t my “go to” comfort food. When I do use it I tend to use the cacao nibs, although I do use the powder at times, too, and never more than 1 teaspoon at a time of either. Honestly, for me I think it’s been fine, it doesn’t send me over the edge and it hasn’t led to craving other foods that I’ve noticed. I don’t do it daily by any means, and I am a big consumer of matcha green tea and greens. So for me, just from time to time, I think it might be a net plus. That being said, I appreciate that conditioning is very powerful and I’ll keep my eye on it. I really liked Susan’s emphasis on checking it out for oneself, that’s always what I think and do. Nothing replaces doing the experiment and observing the outcome, at least for me. Thanks for a great VLOG!

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  9. Fran

    What is the recommendation when it comes to putting milk or cream in coffee?

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  10. Fran

    Also, regarding Green Tea Matcha, isn’t caffeine not recommended??

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Caffeine can be a slippery slope for some people, so it’s good to be aware of how tea affects you. <3

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  11. 2createwell

    I use raw cacao powder 2 to 3 times a week with no issues in the past year. But I am low on scale. I do eat Greens a lot. I don’t do green tea because it upsets my stomach.

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  12. Karen

    Great vlog, and I don’t give a hoot about cacao. (Nor was I much of a chocolate person in The Life Before.) But the info and insights around the topic in general definitely deepen my overall understanding of the brain and food addiction.

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  13. Vicki

    Thank you so much Susan for this vlog.
    Before BLE I was a binge eater, and for long periods of time, chocolate & cacao were my only food and you’ve helped understand what was happening in my brain.
    I have had bright lines for over 2 years, living in a right sized body, a 10++ and as much as I loved chocolate, I know that if I would every eat it again, my brain would find the old tracks.
    My life is so much easier because I don’t have any exceptions. My peace is more precious to me than any food.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Love hearing of your success and peace, Vicki!! Thanks for sharing with us! <3

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  14. Michele

    I’m right with you. It looks too much like the dangerous chocolate I had to have almost daily. Why take a chance ? What’s the purpose? So you think it’s healthier than eating chocolate? I don’t want to think I’m eating chocolate again! That’s just one of many foods that got me here in the first place! An apple never tasted so sweet and delicious since I stopped processed sugar. I am so proud of myself now! Thank you!

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  15. Denise

    Does anyone have experience with carob powder? I’ve been using it for a long time as a substitute for cacao. I’m at maintenance weight and I don’t think it is affecting me the way cacao would, but now I have questions.

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    1. Fiona US

      Denise,

      How do you use your carob? It was popular in the 70’s as a chocolate substitute (there’s a contradiction in terms if there ever was one!) but I have only ever seen it used in baked goods and candy. I like it but for it’s own sake, as long as I don’t think of it as faux chocolate.

      Thanks!

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      1. Denise

        I use it to flavour my breakfast bowl of 1/2 cup of quinoa flakes, ground flax seed, cinnamon, turmeric, and mashed bananas.

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  16. Susan J Edwards

    I so appreciate the info that came from the very first Food Freedom Videos, years ago that so emphasized “healing the brain.” When I have been off sugar for a while, the gosh awful cravings go down. I am losing weight because I now not eating while watching TV. I am a widow and eating alone at the table is painful for me, so I sit in my recliner, but I MUST watch the music channel if I want to eat. Have lost 6 pounds in 3 weeks. I am 77 years old and losing slow and steady is my goal. Since I did the 14-day challenge before the book came out, I have lost 52 pounds. Lots of “fits & starts” but have not gained much each time. So glad SPT can give the neuroscience to us. I am a 10. Blessings,

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Sending love to you, dear Susan, and thinking of you in your pain. We are here to support you in any way we can. Lots of love to you, friend. <3

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  17. Ariann

    I love all your blogs. The science behind the results makes so much sense to me. It is more meaningful that to just say, “That’s not good stuff to eat.” since there is so much out there that supports the benefits of cacao. Way to go Susan. Nailed it again.

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  18. Rhonda

    Your program is called Bright Line Eating. It kinda sounds like people are asking where the bright lines are regarding cacao. When you tell them to make their own decisions, it kinda blurs the bright lines. I personally think maybe a way to say it would be that one person’s bright lines may not be another person’s. Some people could probably enjoy a bit of cacao sweetened with stevia or erithrytol, but some would go off the deep end if they tried it.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      You’re exactly right, Rhonda! Some of those things work for some and are a disaster for others, thus the reasoning for Susan saying to do what works for you and that there are no BLE police. 😉 The recommendation is that cacao is not a BLE-friendly food. <3

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  19. Naomi

    This question has made me think of a lesson i’ve Had to learn: You can’t cheat your body or your brain. I’ve had to be honest with myself. Anytime i have to wonder can I have something, anytime i try to make a case for why it could be ok, it’s not. Im doing it for a hit. For me, Anytime I’m looking for food to be pleasurable or looking for a way to spice up my food, It’s a bad idea. I know this sounds terrible, but it’s true. I cannot seek to enjoy my food. I just simply seek to eat it and then maybe i’ll Enjoy it, and that’s a blessing.

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  20. Kate Scammell-Anderson

    Thanks you Susan, I asked this question last week so this is so helpful and as ever, understanding the science is just awesome. Big thanks and love xx

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  21. Ilse

    A year ago I discovered the benefits of pure cacao powder and being on BLE FOR 3 1/2 years and high on susceptibility scale, I took the risk of experimenting with it. I added it to my breakfast. I was very lucky as to this day I add some to my daily breakfast without any addiction to it. I don’t eat it for the taste but for health benefits.

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  22. Becky Harvey

    Thank you Susan for sharing this insight on cacao powder! I certainly agree to our senses of smell running with just the smell of this addicting item also to me! I’ve been in a deep rut the past year it seems in being triggered to Eat outside of my Brite-Lines, due to eating Some cacao everyday for its health benefit properties! It’s not been easy or helpful in my trying cacao! It definitely set me off course, and I’ve been attempting to gain back my control ever since!
    Now you have cleared up my binging issues! A Little I’m realizing I also Can Not handle! Blessings to you in making this confirmed in why it’s best to just stay away …. for some of us, when it comes to cacao powder.
    I’ve switched to having matcha -tea daily ~recently and it’s delightful and better! Also, organic apple-cider vinegar (1tsp-1Tbls.) in water every morning and it’s been amazing! I’m slowly getting back on-track in my Brite-Line Eating!
    Again, blessings to everyone and their journey ~love all you share Susan!
    Becky…;)

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  23. Dawn

    Timely information as usual. Thank you! May I also suggest avoiding the use of coco husks in your garden.

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  24. Steph

    I work retail tucked in the middle of fast food restaurants. Every day I’m assaulted with the smell of fat, flour, sugar, etc. So the hits of dopamine from those smells will never allow my brain to heal?!?! What hope is there then?

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  25. Carol

    So inspiring. Thank you Susan

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  26. Lesley Smith

    Wonderful! I am so grateful for this vlog! Being a follower of Ari Whitten, I fell into this trap and couldn’t resist a handful of nuts every day. Eliminating the cacao in my oatmeal and I’m on track again. Thanks also for the recommendation about Energy Blueprint, as I am very happy with that course.

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  27. Nancy Schunke

    I’ve noticed for many years that milk chocolate particularly Hershey’s kisses etc cause me to eat and eat it and it does t even taste that good to me but I can stop after a few bites of really good dark chocolate. I thought Hershey’s was putting something addictive in it so I’ve been avoiding milk chocolate for years as not worth it. This was very helpful to learn it probably is something in the chocolate (dairy or sugar?) that is the problem.

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  28. Elaine Kline

    Hi Susan ,
    Thank you for the clarity. One gets lots of
    On line stuff about how wonderful it is . I
    assumed it was like unsweetened cocoa
    which is really gross; I’ve tasted it.
    New topic: You look wonderful!! Love your
    haircut. In addition to your academic
    credentials which speak for themselves,
    you are a poster child or walking ad as it
    were for Bright Line Eating . 🥰

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  29. Mayra Hitchens

    wow…that’s fascinating

    I had one small chocolate after not eating any for a long time and then I had everything on the table. all 7 of them..I think I’m going to do the BLE.

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  30. Frances

    This is such a helpful VLOG for me. Thanks so much as always Susan. I ran the experiment with cocoa nibs and found them interesting but I didn’t think addictive. I have let them go, and will try matcha again instead! But I am wondering if the nibs could have led me down a slippery slope with craving nuts and nut butters? I had been able to eat a limited and weighed amount as a Fat, but now just have a problem with wanting more and more. Are nuts addictive for some of us, particularly those of us who are 10s? Have you done a blog on what to do about craving for nuts? I love the science too, makes it not about Me and My lack of control, and shows a clear solution–leave that food alone, it’s poison to me.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Nuts, nut butters, and cheese are foods that can be triggering for some, Frances. You aren’t alone in that.

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  31. Jennifer

    I enjoyed the video. I assumed that cacao powder would not be considered BLE friendly because it’s processed like a flour. Ground beans, refined, purified and highly concentrated to activate the pleasure centers of the brain. NMF.

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  32. Ann

    It would be interesting to see how nose plugs would help our addiction…. 🙂

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  33. Sunny

    I did the cacao experiment last winter. I really regret it. I’m a 9 on the Susceptibility Scale.

    That was eight months ago and I’m *still* struggling to regain the progress I made in my first ten months of BLE. I didn’t even eat cacao *powder*, just the crunchy beans. It *still* definitely affected me negatively, food-addiction-wise.

    I also became convinced it was depressing my sex drive. LAAAAAME!! lol . . .

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  34. Mayla

    Brilliant. I bought a bag of cacao nibs 4 months ago. I put a tablespoon on my oatmeal and it tasted SO GOOD. DELICIOUS. It was a red flag for me, and I didn’t have it again. Green tea macha, eh? I’ll give it a try. Thanks Susan.

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  35. Helen Spingola

    As usual, a fascinating vlog. Totally expected from our beloved SPT!!!

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  36. MMarie

    Excellent vlog, Susan — I learned so much, and of course everything I learned only further confirmed why I am so addicted to sugar and other foods. My brain is so wired up I don’t know if it could ever be healed. But, I don’t know, just understanding my brain better helps me to not feel so discouraged with myself when I fail with food. My brain is sick — it’s either in total denial or total manipulation mode — and that’s why it gives me all these mis-cues that I’m not just hungry but that I’m STARVING (when logically I know I’m not) — or that “just a little bit won’t hurt,” (when I know it will). The science behind it all let’s me know I’m not crazy but my brain is messed up.

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  37. C. More Ritter

    Dr. Thompson speaks of the risk of eating a pint of ice cream. What about someone who ate an entire half gallon of coffee ice cream a night and little else–kind of like when an alcoholic has progressed to only consuming alcohol and no food. That would be me. So I really am won over by this blog because as you might have guessed, I too, am a “10” on the scale. Chocolate makes my brain so crazy I have to avoid it like the plague and have for some years but now it is being touted by many. So I applaud this vlog because I learned more about why I cannot “go there.” I remember covering an event when I was a health reporter that the dietitian said she ate a small handful of chocolate chips every day so she would not feel deprived. She was probably of a body mass index close to obese but she was also a proponent of not dieting and that you can be healthy at a higher weight. All I knew was that advice would not work for me and I would be unable to work if I did what she did. Thanks so much!

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