Chocolate is very high in sugar and for that reason it is important for anyone on a diet or just generally being health conscious to avoid it. Sugar is converted to glucose in the blood and used to provide us with energy, which is all good and well as long as you use enough of it – but can be stored as fat if you don’t.
Eating lots of chocolate will result in large amounts of sugar in the bloodstream which can cause damage to our nerves and organs. It also causes an insulin spike as the body produces this hormone in order to use up the sugar in the blood to return the quantity to normal – this then means that following a ‘sugar high’ we end up with a ‘sugar low’ which makes us feel lethargic and tired. Furthermore, repeatedly causing this insulin spike can also cause it to stop working as well – resulting in type 2 diabetes. Then there’s the damage that chocolate does to your teeth, and how sick you often feel after eating large amounts – it’s definitely preferable to limit your intake of sugar and specifically chocolate.
The problem however is the ‘cravings’. This is a phenomenon that many of us are familiar with, and that many of us have difficulty controlling. Chocolate is something that many of us consider one of our ultimate weaknesses and some women even claim it’s better than sex. Even if you don’t fall into this camp, most of us would admit that it’s a very effective pick-me-up when we are feeling low and that it’s one of the best comfort foods for relaxing or making everything feel alright.
Thus begins the destructive cycle of the chocaholic, and sometimes it can really feel like a real addiction. Here we will look at some ways you can overcome this dependency and kick the habit once and for all.
Focus on Why You Want to Quit
First of all, in order to stop snacking on chocolate you are going to need to exercise some real willpower. In order to do this, you need to ensure that you have it clear in your mind why you are giving up – you have to really want it and you need to know why. So think about your health and the potential consequences of failure, and think about how much happier you could be if you were more confident, healthier and slimmer.
Now you need to remind yourself of this when it counts – in other words when you are thinking of cheating. One way to do this is to carry around with you a picture of someone who has the body you ideally want. Keep this in your wallet or pocket, it doesn’t matter. Now each time you think of cheating and eating a chocolate, bring that picture out and look at it – hopefully this will help to refocus your mind and help you to stop. Alternatively you can use the stick rather than carrot approach and next time you are thinking of having a chocolate, try grabbing a roll of your own stomach. This will quickly remind you why chocolate is bad and you will likely stop in your tracks.
When we crave anything it’s because our body is telling us we need it. This is an evolved response and it’s one that helped us to survive in the wild before we had textbooks on nutrition. In this case our body is telling us to eat something sweet – a simple carb – because we are tired and we need more energy. As such, it’s being tired and lethargic that caused us to crave.
In other words then it’s important to ensure that we stay energetic and that we avoid letting our blood sugar drop. To do this then we should make sure that we eat lots of complex carbs and early in the day. Complex carbs are carbohydrates that take a while for our body to release the energy from. Thus if you are eating complex carbs you will get a gradual release of energy throughout the day; eat a good portion of these for breakfast and you’ll be catered for throughout the rest of the day.
On top of this you also need to avoid other causes of feeling overly tired and lethargic. For instance it’s important to make sure that you get enough sleep, and to make sure that you avoid too much stress or anything that could cause you to feel depressed (which feels like generally feeling ‘drained’ for many of us).
Cognitive restructuring means changing the way you think about something. This means in other words that you are looking into replacing the thoughts you commonly have regarding chocolates with more healthy ones.
One thing that some cognitive behavioural therapists recommend is convincing yourself that you simply don’t like chocolate and this simply involves repeating that to yourself over and over again until you believe it on an unconscious level. Every time you think about chocolate just think ‘but I don’t like chocolate’ and it can even help to imagine the very sickly sweet chocolates that you maybe don’t like and to focus on the way you feel when you’ve eaten too much. Eventually this becomes your natural reaction and you stop craving chocolate (though it does mean sacrificing something you enjoy).
Find a Replacement
You also need to make sure that you have something else to enjoy instead of you chocolate and that means that you need to find a new favourite snack to binge on. Obviously the idea is that this snack be a healthy one otherwise you are just replacing one thing that’s bad for you with another. However at the same time it also needs to fall into that category of comfort food so that it feels like a huge or a reward. Something like yogurt or cereal can work very well in this capacity.
In fact though it doesn’t even need to be ‘food’ at all that you replace your old chocolate cravings with. For instance I personally use a nice mug of tea as my comfort ‘food’ and that works perfectly (it also burns calories though it has other less than positive health implications). Alternatively you could also use something like a nice warm bath, a long sleep on the couch, or a little bit of your favourite book. Even a massage from a partner can work well (and helps to produce those same love hormones you get from chocolate). This way you will in the short term be able to motivate yourself not to have chocolate – as you get that other reward instead, and you will also be able to gradually ‘condition’ yourself to enjoy turning down chocolate.