Are you a chocoholic? : Dealing with chocolate addiction
- By Sahana Rajan
Serotonin is a hormone that produces relaxed and happy mental state. This hormone is activated when you consume sweet and high-fat foods. Apart from serotonin, chocolate also contains phenylethylamine which produces feelings of enthusiasm and attraction. The obsession with chocolate is marked by intense craving for it, loss of control over its consumption, and continual consumption despite negative repercussions.
Is chocoholism a true addiction? Chocolate is a manifestation of desires and there is also a resistance to it. This cultural phenomenon of mysterious romance and excitement increases the attractiveness of chocolate. Apart from these, advertising and grocery shop displays also connect chocolate with an object of desire, thus triggering its need in times of emotional stress.
Though the symptoms shown by those who are addicted to chocolate is much like those who are misusing substance, it is generally not considered an addiction in a true sense, as this is an acquired obsession (through culture and media) than due to bodily changes. Foods like broccoli also contain the mood-altering ingredients, even in higher concentrations. The compulsion with chocolate is considered to be owing to its texture, sweetness, and aroma.
Here are a few steps to overcome your chocolate addiction:
Step 1- Symptom Acknowledgment
While it is not considered a true addiction by many psychologists, most agree that the experience of compulsion towards chocolate is much like the ones towards drugs. It is important to diagnose and check your condition. You need to have a chocolate bite everyday. Generally, a particular time is chosen, like after lunch when your mind is a little discharged and you need that small bit of kick to arouse yourself back to normalcy. If you do not have access to chocolate, you feel anxious and find ways to get hold of a chocolate bar.
Step 2- Know The Consequences
If you recognize that you are suffering from chocolate addiction, then be aware of the problems which it causes. It will lead to a series of bites where there would be no nutritional value and only fat and sugar induced by the chocolate. You would be needy for the chocolate, and thus, your emotions will be ruled by a bar of sweet. You might get headaches after eating chocolate, but you would still eat it anyway. You might hide and consume chocolate, owing to the disapproval of your companions. Your health will gradually deteriorate with constant burden on your pocket to keep a stash of chocolate around.
Step 3- Identify The Cause
Chocolate is a response to a root problem. For this purpose, you have to carefully observe the nature of your chocolate consumption. Note the triggers to your choco-pangs. Do you eat chocolate to lift your mood when you are sad or upset? Have you been on diet for too long, and because of suppressing the cravings, you see the chocolate bar as 'just one time' deal which is indefinitely extended? Maybe you feel excited and urge to eat chocolate just by thinking about chocolate. Lastly, you might be bored and want to while away your time. In the act of busying yourself, you find yourself munching on multiple bars of chocolate.
Did you know that the impact of chocolate on the human psyche is greatly shaped by the idea of chocolate being a representative of romance and desire? Majority of young adults believe that chocolate is a symbol of love and the tendency to get addicted to it is strengthened with the hormones it produces. To avoid chocolate addiction, make sure you work on your eating pattern carefully.
Step 4- Empathetic Path to Recovery
Once you have found the root cause of your addiction, work on your problems gradually and with empathy. Don't push yourself to completely give it up unless you have been medically advised to go off it completely.
Step 5- The Emotional Eater
If you consume chocolate when sad, find alternatives to feel better. For instance, some people listen to music or love to play with dogs to feel relaxed. Find your non-chocolaty solution to emotional problems. The best way would be to explore the cause of sadness and communicate with your friend or companion about it. This will nullify the possibility to there being any other dependency shift from chocolate.
Step 6- The Boredom Eater
If you find yourself nibbling on chocolate when you are bored, then first become conscious of the act. After having eaten chocolate for boredom for months or years, one has to remind oneself about the act. So, look for other ways to spend your time. Pick up a hobby you like and pursue it. If you are really craving chocolate, then talk to someone who knows about your addiction and can divert your attention.
Step 7- Dietary Changes
Make sure you shift to a balanced diet full of whole grain, fresh fruits and vegetables as well as water. You may also include nuts and dry fruits in your diet as well.
Step 8- Scheduled Chocolate Consumption
Make a resolution that you would only have chocolate once in three days (initially) and then slowly taper it off to only special occasions.
Step 9- Withdrawal Symptoms
When you are reducing the amount of chocolate you eat daily, you will undergo withdrawal signs. This will include headache, mood swings, depression, and in severe cases, flu. Be strong and do not give in to the symptoms. Busy yourself with other activities and do not concentrate on chocolate.
Step 10- Sleeping, Eating and Exercising
There are three prime components of healthy living: eating a balanced diet, drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily, getting adequate sleep (7 to 8 hours), and performing moderate exercise daily for 30 to 45 minutes. Focus on healthy living and build a harmonious relationship with any food item that you consume.
Chocolate is a manifestation of desires and there is also a resistance to it. This cultural phenomenon of mysterious romance and excitement increases the attractiveness of chocolate. Apart from these, advertising and grocery displays also connect comfort in modern living with chocolate, thus triggering its need in times of emotional stress.