"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. 

 

Cocoa:

  • 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)

Milk:

  • 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).

Sugar:

  • (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


Tags

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

Archive