There’s no denying the rich flavours, creamy texture, aromatic smell and comforting feelings that chocolate provides. It is truly a treat for the senses that compares to no other. Even the Myans and Aztecs believed it was a ‘food of the Gods’.
About chocolate cravings
Chocolate must be one of the most commonly over indulged discretionary foods. Most women in particular seem to understand chocolate cravings and have experienced them at one time or another. Some individuals go as far as calling themselves ‘chocoholics’. This poses the question…
…can you actually become addicted to chocolate?
In short, there isn’t much scientific support to suggest that an addiction to chocolate (or food in general) is plausible.
However, there have been some interesting findings.
An addiction usually incorporates the following:
- An intense craving that can only be satisfied by the item craved for
- Losing control over the item that is craved for
- Continued engagement despite being aware of the consequences/problem
Some individuals appear to experience the above with chocolate. Even making late night trips to the supermarket just to pick some up.
One thought behind the craving or addiction to chocolate surrounds the fat/ sugar content. High levels of fat and sugar trigger the reward pathways of the brain . The activity of this section of the brain decreases once the craving has been fulfilled. Some animal studies have shown that restricting these foods triggered a stress response that was in line with withdrawals – as seen with addiction .
Other possible reasons for our cravings
Chocolate contains a compound known as phenylethylamine. Phenylethylamine is produced at times when we are happy or in love . It has been postulated that when experiencing a heart break or depression, our body goes in to withdrawals of this compound – hence the desire for chocolate to lift our mood. Whilst it is likely that only a very small amount of phenylethylamine reaches the brain, many individuals still report feelings of comfort experienced whilst eating chocolate.
Is your chocolate craving in response to a deficiency such as copper? This is another theory. However, this one is perhaps a little farfetched. Chocolate does contain certain vitamins and minerals, however, there are generally much richer sources available for each of them. If your body was craving a certain nutrient, its first port of call probably wouldn’t be chocolate.
The marketing for chocolate makes it out to be something of utter indulgence. There is a certain elegance to it. Additionally, everyone knows it as a “forbidden” food. So perhaps this makes us want it even more? Another possibility.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist.
If you have any questions relating to chocolate cravings or nutrition issues, contact us today to make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns.