"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

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

Archive