"Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;...
and not today's pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man."
~James H. West

Lisa's Blog

Are You Addicted to Chocolate?

Lisa Cutforth - Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Why does chocolate make us feel SOOO good and seem to have so much power over us?


If you are the type of person who thinks about chocolate all the time and can’t live without it, and if you just can’t even think about saying no or resisting it, then you are probably addicted to it!

You can be both physiologically and psychologically or emotionally addicted to a substance or behaviour and that is what makes it harder to control or give up. 

What is it in chocolate that makes it so “addictive”?

The taste, the texture and the way it makes you feel! 

The main ingredients in chocolate are: cocoa, milk and sugar.

If we break each of these down, we can start to understand the effect each of these has on the body. 



  • Contains compounds that act as stimulants for the central nervous system, so we feel more alert (for example caffeine and theobromine). Theobromine triggers the release of endorphins in the brain and works as a natural antidepressant.   
  • Contains phenylethylamine, which is know for causing emotional highs and lows associated with mood swings, love, pleasure and indulgence.  
  • It also contains important minerals like iron which is needed for blood formation and magnesium which the body needs for muscle movement (contraction and relaxation) and also for the nervous system, so it can help us feel a little relaxed.
  • The heavenly texture can be attributed to the fat.  This pleasurable “mouth feel” associated with fat is probably an evolutionary consequence of the high energy fat could provide in times of famine.
  • Cocoa is also a rich source of antioxidants (protective in the body)


  • Contains tryptophan which is converted to serotonin (one of our “happy hormones”) in the brain
  • Interestingly a sensitivity to milk can give rise to cravings for milk.  (You may not be lactose intolerant but you could still be sensitive to milk!  Some partially-digested proteins for example casein in milk or gluten in wheat will form opium like peptides (chains of amino acids) which can bind to special receptors in the brain and are capable of producing a drug-like effect, leaving us wanting more of the very thing that is causing us harm!) (I will cover more on the topic of allergies in future newsletters).


  • (Carbohydrate) aids the transport and absorption of tryptophan into the brain
  • Will provide an increase in blood sugar, which will periodically alleviate the symptoms of low blood sugar (low energy and low mood).

Therefore you can see there is a host of explanations for why chocolate has such an effect on us and it would be so hard to give up.


The downside of chocolate:

  • Processed, mainstream chocolate is high in sugar and contains all sorts of other additives to keep it “fresh”.  Anything that causes a rapid increase in blood sugar will inevitably result in a rapid drop in blood sugar, which will affect your energy and your mood short term but has more serious long-term consequences (e.g. diabetes)
  • Caffeine is a stimulant so acts increases stress in the body
  • There are better ways to achieve higher levels of these important nutrients:  e.g. iron (meat, chicken thighs).  Milk hinders iron absorption.  Tryptophan is found in protein rich food like chicken, pumpkin seeds, turkey, tuna, rolled oats is a particularly good option, because of the combined carbohydrate content.
  • Some people are sensitive to certain foods, continuing to eat these foods can have undesirable consequences for the body, for example it causes inflammation which can appear with the following symptoms:  bloating, mucous production, diarrhea, cramping, leaky gut. 

The million-dollar question: So is chocolate bad for me?

  • It’s a treat!  It is definitely acceptable and possibly even beneficial to enjoy good quality chocolate in moderation.  “Good” options are 1-2 pieces 75-90% Cocoa, and preferably Organic Chocolate.  If you can’t stand dark chocolate, choose a good quality milk chocolate with nuts in it, (hazelnuts or almonds). 
  • Always make sure you are enjoying it while you eat and never eat it mindlessly (while you are doing something else!), it just isn’t worth it!

Recent Posts


detox is chocolate bad for me support your body relationship with food control celebrate life fun nutrition food sensitivities Add new tag natural alternatives to drugs heart foundation tick explained how to avoid doing the right thing and getting the wrong results sexy salads comfort eating leaky gut, gut health, symptoms of leaky gut are grains healthy trans fats fresh start nutritious cooking salad life lessons love, loneliness Egg allergy new year's resolutions healthy shopping health one step at a time empty your mind libido indigestion memory food intolerances are frozen veggies any good Happiness dangers of multitasking while you eat pop-eye and spinach taking a break Sensational fussy eaters make stress work for you feels good hunger and stress mobile phones and brain cancer, Dr Teo mood Dr Randy Pausch on Oprah getting fit childrens lunch boxes dancing diet diary foods in season, seasonal recipes herbal toothpaste sugar and adhd how to love exercise fresh recipies obesity addicted to chocolate brain health nutritious cholesterol lowering diet reducing coffee immune boosting tips Laughter and stress how to say no healthy cooking party the power to choose drugfree alternatives ask my doctor love food time management and healthy living fruit and vegetable shortage recipe Cancer muscle wasting sensitivity to milk christmas fruit delicious diet diary of a nutritionist cooking with allergies the tummy beast quizz sugar and add taking responsibility Lisa's Diary how to avoid injury during exercise how to be happy soft drink and behaviour problems simple 7 day detox plan is sugar bad I've Got Life keep focused healthy wine, healthy beer, healthy alcohol options natural toothpaste reasons to eat foods in season Nutritional Therapist soccer, role of team sports in longevity, role of exercise and community in longevity calorie controlled diet cheap fruit and vegetables, what's in season in autumn in australia I don't get hungry benefits of sleeping best exercise healthy fast food, healthy take away allergies Alan Pease muffins breast cancer awareness what is healthy food low cholesterol sexy salad happiness workshop health pioneers making time to relax cooking class in brisbane heart disease gift ability to respond overindulge dance nutritionist 7 Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol and Protect Your Heart 7 steps to detox blood pressure seasonal quick and tasty recipes breast cancer prevention soft drink and behavior problems how to check your breasts low calorie meal plan ways to improve prostate health assertiveness health for busy people image focus weightloss go for 2 and 5 healthy shopping list maintain a healthy weight, underweight Lactose intolerance healthy cooking demonstration quick recipes have fun in the kitchen skipping meals gluten intolerance have more energy corporate wellness food allergies increasing energy benefits to keeping a diet diary to know and not do is not yet to know lunch health with 10 % effort which is better for you butter or margarine fun breast cancer awareness video hot guys music life choices comfort foods should I eat organic veggies sustainable living, rural development, organic gardening, rampumps, biogas what is movember organic vegetables strength improve your memory fatigue benefits of strength training, why you should strength train success and you wrong type of exercise, exercise and results avoiding a choice immune system prostate cancer low calorie diet do i have to drink milk; where do i get calcium from; non dairy calcium sources high cholesterol anxiety 10 % principle homocysteine weight quick eating solutions how to get more of exercise alzheimers weight loss healthy cooking parties motivation happiness course nutritionist in brisbane recipes for allergies real food skip meals life breakfast Nina Simone stress, keys to managing stress, benefits of stress nutritionists diet diary four questions you must ask your doctor before taking medication energy health performance what is a good breakfast great second hand books relax comfort pig