Are you a chocoholic? Whether you sheepishly or proudly said yes, you are not alone!
Research has found that one in six Brits (about eight million people in the UK) consume chocolate daily.
We are a nation of confectionery lovers. But is this love of chocolate an addiction? And if it is, is it dangerous to our health? Let’s find out as we enlighten you on the effects of excessive chocolate consumption. Don’t hate us – we’re only trying to help!
First, let’s tackle the most important question and why you might struggle to say no when you pass the sweets aisle. Are we addicted to chocolate?
Addiction is a tricky one to call when it comes to chocolate. However, a study by Yale University researchers found similarities between how the brain responds to chocolate cravings and drug addiction. That said, most researchers agree that chocolate addiction isn’t a ‘true’ addiction.
On the other hand, chocolate contains ingredients that could contribute to compulsive cravings, which can lead to an unhealthy attachment to the sweet. For instance, the combination of sugar and fat in chocolate releases serotonin in the brain, which makes us feel happier, but that same combination can get our health into trouble in the longer term.
That little burst of happiness is fine if you only eat chocolate occasionally. Still, it can turn bad if you eat too much too often.
Perhaps you haven’t previously thought about your relationship with chocolate and whether you depend on the sweet treat. In that case, here are five quick ways to tell if you have an unhealthy relationship with chocolate:
If you answered yes to any of the above, it might be time to break the habit. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the odd chocolatey treat, it can be harmful to your health if you lose control. But how do you manage it?
So, maybe you are a chocoholic, but is that really a bad thing? Here is the information you need to know to help you rethink your habits and make a conscious decision to minimise your chocolate consumption.
Whilst cocoa beans are known to contain some beneficial ingredients like flavanols, which can help with heart health, the other ingredients in chocolate cancel out the benefits.
From allergies, migraines and acne to obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, the fat and sugar in chocolate can contribute to some miserable and sometimes life-threatening diseases. As much as we all want to believe chocolate is good for us, it turns out it isn’t.
When it comes to chocolate, the purer and smaller, the better. Thankfully, no one’s saying you have to give up chocolate completely unless you need to reduce sugar for health reasons.
Advice says to stick to chocolate that contains over 65 per cent cocoa and to consume only one square or less of it daily. That’s doable, isn’t it?
Eating chocolate is easy and comforting, so it is no surprise that many of us struggle to kick the habit. Especially if you don’t notice you have reached for a piece on auto-pilot after a long or hard day. So, to help you limit your chocolate consumption, here are four tips to help you overcome temptation.
When it comes to sugar, the more we eat it, the more we want it, and of course, there is a lot of sugar in chocolate. So, if you are struggling to resist chocolate, it might help to limit your sugar intake in other foods too. Not forgetting sugary drinks!
Keeping hydrated is a key part of battling the urge for chocolate, as it will stop sugar cravings. Often when we want chocolate, it is because our bodies feel tired, and we have headaches or low blood pressure. When we feel these things, we instantly reach for sugary treats when our bodies are thirsty.
When breaking any habit, having an action plan could be the difference between success and failure. This means you need to think ahead about what you will do when the desire for chocolate hits. For example, when you’re at work and hitting the afternoon slump, have some protein bars packed in your bag to stop the temptation to raid the vending machine. Similarly, why not look for a sugar-free cookie recipe to bake and have a delicious snack on hand for evenings cuddled up on the sofa?
Finally, with any break of habit, goal or challenge you set for yourself, it is important to be realistic. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe in yourself, but be kinder when you struggle. If you are craving a piece of your favourite chocolate, you’ve tried to distract yourself and have reached for alternatives to no avail; allow yourself to have a small portion. If you continue to deny your cravings, this could lead to a total collapse of your hard work and overconsumption in binge eating habits.
If you’re ready to quit or at least cut down on your chocolate consumption, we want to introduce you to Dechox, a great initiative from the British Heart Foundation.
Dechox encourages people to give up chocolate for 31 consecutive days, which is not a huge sacrifice and a great way to get your body used to less chocolate.
Kickstart your new relationship with chocolate by taking up the Dechox challenge, and help raise money for a good cause in the process.
Suppose you’re worried about the effects of chocolate on your health. In that case, it’s worth speaking to a GP for further testing or looking for more advice on diabetes and weight gain from the NHS. You can also test your blood glucose levels at home with diabetes and cholesterol tests.