I have often made the statement in jest that I am addicted to chocolate. I will tell anyone that I really like chocolate. I will even go so far as to say that I love chocolate. But can we seriously “love” chocolate? Can we really become addicted to chocolate? Or are these just expressions of our appreciation for a food that we truly enjoy eating? Do you think that you may be a chocoholic? Read on, and find out.
Are Chocolate Lovers the Same as Chocoholics?
I crave chocolate every day. I also crave a balance of healthy fats, low carbs, and protein in every meal. I usually eat one or two pieces of dark chocolate (about 20 to 40 grams) every day. I eat chocolate because I like the way it makes me feel and because of its positive mental and physical health benefits. These are the same reasons that I eat a diet of healthy foods at every meal. Does this mean that I am a lover of healthy fitness food or a foodaholic, a chocolate lover or a chocoholic? Researchers have compared the effects of chocolate to the euphoria experienced by marijuana smokers. So, how do we know if our love for chocolate is nearing addictive behavior?
Are You Emotional About Chocolate?
There is little doubt that our food cravings are sometimes connected to our emotions. How many times have you felt really good about some experience you’ve had and said, “Let’s go out to dinner to celebrate.” Or, have you ever come home exhausted and drained from your day at work and decided that you deserve a special treat of food or dessert. Maybe you are like me, and you lose your appetite all together when you’re angry. Sudden shifts in your mood from happy to sad or visa versa can trigger cravings for certain foods, including chocolate. But are these addictions?
Are Women More Prone to Chocolate Addiction?
Women have always been associated with chocolate addiction more than men. Some theorize that is because women are more likely to turn to sweets when emotionally stressed than men are. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate contains caffeine. And this caffeine has the effect of boosting energy and improving mood which can result in a caffeine “buzz.”
As many women know all too well, we often experience cravings for chocolate during or near our menstruation. This is because changes in our hormonal levels affect our mood. Many husbands will confirm that fact. Anyway, these types of mood changes often trigger cravings for chocolates or other foods.
I began eating chocolates after my sisters and some of my friends told me that chocolate perked up their days. I guess the caffeine and metabolized sugar in some chocolate affects the serotonin level in the body, and increases in serotonin create feelings of elation. Sounds good to me. Who doesn’t want to feel happy? Over time, I learned of the mental and physical health benefits of dark chocolate, and I began to include dark chocolate in my daily diet.
Now I don’t want you to infer that women have less willpower than men when it comes to chocolate. My husband, Roy, is swift to complain if I miss placing a small piece of dark chocolate on his dessert tray after dinner. He tells me that he likes the energy boost to his mind and body. And as many of you wives understand, any boost to the husband’s energy level is a good thing. But does my husband’s preference for chocolate after every dinner meal make him a chocoholic?
How Are Addictive Responses to Chocolates Identified?
A recent study in Europe found that when people are allowed to eat liberal amounts of chocolate and then cut off from it, they become anxious, deprived, and depressed. That is not a surprise to me, and I am sceptical that this somehow indicates an addictive response. The research findings claim that these same people tend to then salivate at the sight of chocolates. Really!? I am a baby boomer, so I may be inherently sceptical, but I can’t help but wonder if this research was funded by a large chocolate company.
I read that another study at Princeton found that rats, after being fed sugar, became anxious when the sugar was removed from their diets. They claimed that their symptoms were comparable to those of nicotine addicts who quit cold turkey.
What do These Tests Prove?
Sometimes, if Roy doesn’t get his way to stay up late at night binging on Star Trek reruns or reading a Demille novel for the third time, he pouts like a little boy. Does that make him a TVaholic or a bookaholic? I don’t believe that this is addictive behavior; I think that it might be a little self-indulgence. When a person, or a rat, get annoyed, anxious, or agitated because their supply of sugar–or any other food–s cut off, this is probably not a sign of addiction either. It is a response to not getting something that they desire. So, I was not surprised that when all was said and done, researchers concluded that there is no such thing as chocolate addiction because chocolate contains no addictive chemical(s).
How to Know If You Are a Chocoholic?
Even though I don’t believe that my “love” for chocolate is any more addictive than my husband’s obsessions with old TV shows and novels. I still wonder how one tells when the line between chocolate laver and chocoholic has been crossed. I have always heard that when a habit that you refuse to give up begins to negatively affect your life or the lives of people around you, that habit is an addiction. So, maybe you think that you are one of the few people with a serious chocolate problem. With that in mind, Roy and I have compiled a simple list of questions to help you determine if you are indeed a chocoholic.
You May Be A Chocoholic if:
1. You have missed work because you stayed up too late the night before finishing off a two-layer box of assorted chocolates.
2. You have left work at lunchtime to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out at your neighborhood chocolate shop.
3. You have been refused service at your neighborhood chocolate store.
4. You have been escorted out of your neighborhood chocolate store.
5. You have been arrested at 2:00 AM for trying to break into your neighborhood chocolate store.
6. You can’t stop humming the Candy Man song.
7. You wake up after an intoxicating evening of chocolate cakes, candies, and cookies to find yourself lying next to one of the M&M Chocolate men.
It is Roy’s and my belief that if you answer any of these questions “Yes” or “I’m not sure,” you may be a chocoholic.
NOTE: This post is intended to be entertaining. I hope that I have not offended anyone. I really doubt that chocolate addiction is real, and research seems to support my opinion. What I do know is that a little organic chocolate everyday is healthy for your mind and your body. I also know that I will continue to eat a little organic, ethically-sourced chocolate every day.
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