Last Wednesday in a routine visit with my doctor, I confessed I should lose some weight. He heartily agreed, saying he should have that advice written on his forehead for many of his patients.


Last Wednesday in a routine visit with my doctor, I confessed I should lose some weight. He heartily agreed, saying he should have that advice written on his forehead for many of his patients.

Knowing one of my downfalls is dark chocolate, I said, “I have to give up dark chocolate.”

He countered, “Don’t do that!” and cited research that proves the health benefits of that delectable treat. What a relief it is he suggested I cut back on other foods instead. Because my dark chocolate is a very special treat.

Every weekday morning, after water exercise, I love coming home and sitting in my comfortable La-Z-Boy, sipping coffee and eating dark chocolate.

And it turns out I’m not the only person who is happier because I eat dark chocolate. In a recent study carried out by Cadbury chocolate in England, psychologist Dylan Evans of the University of Bath found chocolate makes British people happy.

He found 70 percent of Britons feel “satisfied, comforted and contented” after eating chocolate. He also found Northerners are happier than other Britons, possibly because they eat more chocolate.

And of the 1,050 adults who participated in the study, nearly one-fifth said a bar of chocolate was enough to put them in a happy mood.

Knowing how important happiness is for health and longevity, this is a very important finding.

Evans also found most happiness comes from the other simple things in life — relaxing after work, enjoying the color of their living rooms, spending time with family and friends, listening to music, having a laugh and enjoying food.

According to a BBC poll, British people’s favorite food is chocolate, followed by tea and biscuits, toast, ice cream and fry up (frying several types of food together for a meal).

I would say Americans are not much different than Britons. And choosing chocolate (dark) as one of our favorite foods turns out to be smart. Where else can you find a special treat that decreases blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of blood clots, acts as an anti-depressant and has nearly eight times the number of antioxidants found in strawberries?

And, on top of everything else, eating chocolate stimulates endorphin production, thus giving us a feeling of pleasure. What a frugal way to enjoy happiness!

In a time of recession that may take us back to our childhood or youth when money was scarce, it’s important to remind ourselves the simplest things can make us happy.

Remember your first apartment, how frugally it was furnished and think back to how happy you were. What did you do then to become so happy? Did you have friends in to play Scrabble or dominoes?

Did you go out for a 5-cent ice cream cone with your family? Did you have picnics in the park?

Evan’s research should remind us how important happiness is and that we can’t buy it with money.

What simple thing can you do today to create happiness for yourself, your family and your friends? How about sharing a healthy dark chocolate bar!

©2008 Marie Snider

Marie Snider is an award-winning health-care writer and syndicated columnist. Write Marie Snider at thisside60@aol.com or visit her Web site at www.visit-snider.com.