Is Your Chocolate Craving An Addiction?

by TaylorR

We all have those days where nothing seems to go the way we want. Yesterday was one of those days for me. Because we’ve all been there I won’t reflect, it’s not going to do me or you any good to recap the crap that happened.

Not to mention, today is a new day! A new day for success… at least that’s the way I like to look at things.

But yesterday did give me some clarity. As I sat blogging at Starbucks (because our internet was down), I realized something… when I “crave” junk, it’s not a craving at all but a way to handle my emotions.

I walked in with every intention of grabbing a coffee and some sort of chocolatey treat. Not because I was hungry but because “I had a rough day and deserved it”. While I sat in line I realized that wasn’t a justifiable reason to place the order for an over priced chunk of sugar.

While the smart side of me had this realization, the not so smart side tried to convince me that in fact, I NEEDED it because I was craving the chocolate. The sweetness, and the happiness that chocolate brings.

Talk about an internal battle. To shut both sides up, I ended up grabbing a small piece of dark chocolate. Sure I caved but I also won.

The chocolate was just big enough to satisfy my sweet craving, and deliver a shot of happiness. But it was just small enough to help me avoid the guilt that would have come should I have swallowed an entire cookie or cake pop… plus the price was less than $1.25…. win.

Why did this happen in the first place? Why do we crave chocolate to help calm our nerves and bring our emotions back to a controlled state?

Because we’re women and we’re told that’s what to do!

Chocolate companies have long been targeting us… PMS commercials, break-ups, job changes, any rocky patch we are told that chocolate can serve as a band-aid. 

As kids we beg our parents for a Barbie band-aid to be placed on every boo-boo; as adult women we beg for a hershey bar.

I’m not about to say that chocolate cravings aren’t real, trust me there have been moments in my life where I would have gone cheetah on someone’s butt to get to a piece (or 2 or 3) of chocolate.

Some Chocolate Craving Facts: 

  • Chocolate contains the same addictive compounds that are found in alcohol, called alkaloids. According to a study from the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, it was found that these chocolate alkaloids are linked to mood and behavior.

No wonder I am quite content after a piece of dark chocolate!

  • In another study, carried out by Italian scientists, another compound was found called anandamide that are believed to mimic the affects of weed!

No wonder after I eat chocolate, I am hungry for more chocolate… just call it the chocolate munchies?

  • And finally, women are more prone to craving the dark stuff than men. 40% of women claim to have cravings (which we all know the other 60% were lying) but only 15% of men crave chocolate. Why? It’s believer to be due to the fact that chocolate is high in magnesium… something that women may lack during PMS.

Things that make you go… hummmm.

What’s A Real Craving? 

I think that it’s gotten too easy to justify every junk food craving on being a women. Trust me, I get it… I have had my fair share of sweet binges in my lifetime.

Source

But how many of those were real deal cravings? Probably very few, like 10% of them.

The other 90% were just falsely justified. I didn’t need them, I probably felt like crap after them but during that moment, convincing myself worked. But it was short lived, it always is. Guilt follows most of the time and I am almost always disappointed in myself. Being disappointed in myself the worst.

I am not saying to give up chocolate, but I am suggesting the next time you go into the candy drawer because you have a craving, stop for a minute and really think about the issue.

Are you trying to put a band aid on your emotions? Are you trying to solve your problems through sugar? Or are you really in need of a sweet treat? My general rule is this… I ask myself:

“Self… will I feel guilty if I eat this?”

If the answer is yes, then I take a deep breath and fight the urge. If I say no, then I go for it… but I always try and go for the least guilty option around.

The 3 Day Rule

If I do somehow use all my self control to pass but the desire stays around for 3 or more days, that’s my cue that it’s okay to go for it. If I don’t I learn that I’ll end up going overboard one way or another.

If I come to realize it’s because I have some emotional issues I turn to something else. Yesterday for example, I took my frustrations out on the treadmill before boot camp. Working on speed work and intervals helps the stress of the day to melt away. Sweating away the nuances worked wonders and I felt like a new person…. thank you Mr. Treadmill, thank you.

  • Are you a choco-holic? 
  • When you were a kid did you have cartoon band-aids? 

Yes I am a choco-holic but I have acknowledged the issue and am taking the 12 steps to move forward with my life and not like the chocolate control me and my decisions.

My parents never had themed band-aids and I was always jealous of my friends. We weren’t allowed band-aids unless there was actual blood and even then it was only the boring brown/tan ones.

 

http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/basics/l/aa001109a.htm

 

  • Amanda Elhilow

    I have this problem where I always need something sweet, everyday. What kills me is i can’t have anything chocolate or sweet in my house because I will literally eat it all in one sitting and then of course feel guilty. I mean, I have not gained any weight from any of this so I assume im not going “off the deep end”, but I still have my bad days where I could sit and eat an entire large bag of pretzel m and ms. What is a good way you think to manage self control? The burning question amongst all women I am sure.

    • http://www.theartofweightlifting.com TaylorR

      unfortunately the best way to practice self control is to simply avoid having the food in the house in the first place. Instead of buying a carton of ice cream, go to the fro yo place and get a single serving cup… and never eat straight from the bags. lol, always grab what you want and put in a smaller bowl. Unless I am baking, we just don’t keep candy or chocolate in the house. I recently started putting my chocolate chips (used for baking) into a non-see through container so I don’t see them when I look into the cabinet. Out of site out of mind!

  • http://www.manejwala.com Omar Manejwala, M.D.

    Great post, Taylor. I really agree that cravings are generally lies that your brain tells you…driven by distortions in memory, perception, etc. Very insightful. I’d also add that chocolate craving in particular is also culturally mediated, as evidenced by the studies that show very different rates of chocolate craving among American (much higher) vs. European women. I’ve written a bit about this issue as well. Great post/great blog.

    Omar Manejwala, M.D.
    http://www.manejwala.com

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