Who has never indulged in chocolate? Who has never craved chocolate at 2 am? Who has never gone off a diet because of chocolate? Let's be honest, we all have! When we are happy, we eat chocolate. When we are stressed, we consume it. When women are expecting their periods, they crave it! We will always find good reasons to go for another bar of chocolate. Just saying the word activates our taste buds and makes our mouth water. Does this mean we are chocoholics? What does this funny word refer to anyways?
A chocoholic is a person who is extremely fond of chocolate, craves it, and compulsively consumes it. The etymology of this word is: chocolate and alcohol. Some researchers have suggested that people can actually become addicted to chocolate. However, this theory has not been approved by all. However, one thing is for certain: chocolate contains sugar, fat, and chemicals that release serotonin and increase the production of endorphin producing feelings of relaxation, happiness, and well-being. This partly explains the cravings...
Reasons for cravings are numerous and vary from one person to another:
- Emotional Problems: Whether you are experiencing negative (anxious, frustrated, sad) or positive (excited, happy) emotions, you might feel the urge to consume chocolate to boost your mood or to keep your good mood up.
- Deprivation: If you love chocolate and are completely forbidding yourself to consume it (because you are following a diet for example), you will probably crave it.
- Hormonal Fluctuations: Changes in hormones (for women during menstruation, pregnancy...estrogen and progesterone mainly) can affect your mood, and thus, some of your eating habits will lead to cravings.
- Boredom / Hunger: Chocolate is handy, available, and can be quickly consumed. So you might tend to eat it out of pleasure, because you are bored, or simply to cut off your hunger pang while on the run.
How can you enjoy chocolate without becoming chocoholic?
- Do not totally deprive yourself of it. Learn to enjoy it in moderation; focus on each bite and awaken all of your senses.
- Go for dark chocolate (contains less milk and sugar) and please check the ingredients on the package; avoid chocolate containing palm oil which is very unhealthy (bet you will find it challenging to find one without it).
- When you feel the urge, take some time to decide whether or not you will or should actually go through with it. If you decide not to consume some chocolate at that moment, enjoy the idea that you are taking care of your body.
- When you are bored, do not go for chocolate. Find something else to do to keep yourself busy.
- When feeling hungry, substitute sugary, fatty chocolate with healthy snacks such as fruits.
- While doing your grocery shopping, try to avoid the candy and confectionery aisles. Having too many sweets at home will encourage you to consume more; you might not be able to resist.
- Find alternatives to lift your mood when depressed. Running, swimming, and dancing might be fun options for you.
Whether addiction to chocolate exists or not is no longer what matters. Chocolate cravings are real and some of you are especially vulnerable. We shared a few tips that will help you overcome this craving and help you to create a healthy relationship with chocolate. Bear in mind that you can control your body, make nutritious choices, and gain control over the problem. Finally, learn to sort the myths from the realities concerning the health benefits of chocolate instead of using these benefits as an excuse to overindulge in your favorite chocolate product.