"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

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

Archive