Although Easter eggs have been in the shops since Christmas, this is the time of year when chocolate cravings could make or break your diet. But is there such a thing as chocolate addiction?
As with any 'luxury' foods, good weight loss tips tell us that moderation is key. But our love of chocolate is about more than diet tips and weight loss, it gives us pleasure. Lisa discuss the reason it is so enjoyable below.
The word "chocoholic" is derived from the term "alcoholic", which describes someone who is addicted to alcohol, but contrary to popular belief there is no scientific evidence to support the belief that chocolate is addictive.
There is no denying that eating chocolate is a pleasurable experience. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine and fat, both of which increase the body's production of endorphins, which are compounds that increase our feeling of well-being. The fat in chocolate is what gives it that very particular "mouth feel" and it is this "melt in the mouth" sensation that increases the allure of eating chocolate. Then there is the sugar, which boosts the level of the brain chemical serotonin, and produces a feeling of relaxation. Chocolate also contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which act as stimulants. This potent combination is what makes chocolate seem addictive. Yet, any pleasurable experience can trigger the same chemical reactions.
If chocolate is your weakness, it can be very difficult to know how best to deal with this. Some people find that, like alcohol, abstinence is the only solution, others find that they have to have some chocolate regularly. Abstinence can work, as long as you don't start feeling deprived. If you find you must have your chocolate fix, why not try some really good chocolate - 70% cocoa solids or more, and allow yourself to have a few squares after a meal? Really savour each mouthful - the higher the cocoa solids, the stronger the chocolate flavour, unlike cheaper chocolate varieties that tend to have a higher fat content.
Believe it or not, even the most fervent "chocoholic" would struggle to over-indulge on this type of chocolate. As the old saying goes, a little of what you fancy can do you good, but moderation is the key.
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