“I can’t stop binge eating on chocolate”
Ever felt that way?
Then this blog post is for you. Keep reading.
Just ate an entire bar of chocolate?
Have you ever eaten an entire bar of chocolate or asked yourself why is it so difficult to just eat one piece of chocolate? Why do so many of us find ourselves scoffing the entire block? You are not alone. I discuss why this happens, and give you practical suggestions of exactly what can help to have only a few pieces of chocolate without feeling addicted to it.
In this blog, I talk about:
- what is it about chocolate that has such power and control over us?
- Why do we feel addicted to chocolate?
- Are we really addicted to sugar?
- How to eat only a few pieces of chocolate and leave the rest.
Are You Addicted to Sugar?
Sometimes people say ‘I am addicted to sugar’. If we were addicted to sugar, why don’t we eat white sugar from the bag? Imagine sitting in front of the TV and eating a spoon full of white sugar, one after the other. I personally have never heard anyone doing it. If most people don’t do it, maybe we are not addicted to sugar. Maybe there is something else going on.
What is it (in particular) about chocolate?
The Perfect Ratio That Makes Chocolate Addictive
Not only do food companies spend time and money researching how to present products (all those alluring shiny plastic packets), but the science of formulating products makes us crave more.
Chocolate Is Comforting
Did you know that chocolate comes with a 2:1 ratio of fat to carbohydrates? What is it about this ratio? Well, did you know that breast milk has an identical ratio? Breast milk is what we likely drank when our mum soothed and comforted us. Therefore, at an unconscious level, this ratio of fat to carbohydrates feels like love, connection, and soothing. Understandably, as we grow up and we feel emotional or overwhelmed – what is it we are looking for? It’s no longer breast milk (of course), but we have something that is similar enough, which is chocolate. Basically, very often we are craving comfort and soothing, especially when we feel stressed, tired and overwhelmed.
Try to pay attention when you are craving chocolate. Notice how you feel in those moments.
Chocolate Makes You Feel Good – Thank You Dopamine
This ratio within chocolate is the perfect design for activating dopamine receptors in our brain. Dopamine is that hormone that makes us feel really good. This hormone is designed for us to want it again (as the feel-good sensation does not last long). Dopamine is biologically necessary continue hunting and gathering. It’s a survival trick. It needs you to NEVER feel content or happy enough so you continue hunt and gather.
Therefore, when you eat one piece of chocolate you are biologically not supposed to feel content, but rather continue eating. Thank the survival instinct within us.
We would get a hit of dopamine after we successfully hunt for food. This is a useful survival mechanism, so we hunt again and survive as a species. No wonder chocolate cravings are challenging because we are fighting hormones and natural biology!
Next time, you can’t stop eating chocolate and believe you don’t have strong will-power, please remind yourself of this.
Chocolate And Portion Sizes
Our brain thinks in portion sizes. Countless clients say to me ‘If I buy some chocolate that is small and wrapped up, I can control myself and just have one.’ Or, if they eat one ice cream, they can leave it at that (most of the time). However, if they buy a big package, they struggle to stop. So, this might be influencing you too, especially if you grew up in a household where you were forced to eat everything on your plate and not waste anything. Or if you had a big family and there was a sense of competition and you had to make sure you get enough before everyone else eats it all.
So What Can We Do To Stop Binge Eating Chocolate
Self Soothing For Emotional Chocolate Eating
Firstly, whilst we certainly needed breast milk as a baby for comfort and survival, we need to learn to soothe ourselves (and not replace this with chocolate!). In psychology we call it self-parenting. Maybe we have a partner or friends who can support us, but ultimately we need to soothe ourselves, too. I want you to observe the common situations when you crave chocolate. Is it when you feel certain feelings and you want to change how you feel? Consider other self-soothing strategies you can employ.
Sometimes a powerful strategy is talking to your inner child (with loving affirmation and understanding). A useful practice is being able to provide yourself with loving empathy. For example, saying ‘It’s understandable you feel….’
Stop Labeling Food As ‘Bad Or Good’ To Stop Binge Eating Chocolate
Labeling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ creates an unuseful binary in relation to how we operate psychologically as humans. For example, we are wired to avoid pain and discomfort and seek pleasure. If we feel guilty for eating chocolate then we will avoid that and seek pleasure. Quite often we will then crave other high-calorie-dense foods anyway. Moreover, these defined ‘bad foods’ are so different for everyone.
Ultimately, I want you to challenge these rules you might have created. Can’t we just have less processed food, and naturally eat fewer foods with added sugars and more natural sugars? We don’t need to stop eating sugar but develop a new consciousness around the way we consume it. A strategy related to this is allowing yourself to eat a little bit of chocolate regularly (for some this is daily or a few times a week). We strip it’s power by normalising it.
Focus On Serotonin
The issue with relying on feel-good dopamine from eating chocolate is its temporal nature. The feeling vanishes fast. Long term, we can’t rely on that. Because every time we want to feel good we need more food or more chocolate or something external. There is another hormone that makes you feel good but does not leave you wanting more. Serotonin, when released, makes us feel content and joyful. We get this from being in nature, connecting to other people, having something in our lives that feels purposeful, movement, exercise, dancing, gratitude, and meditation. This hormone is sustainable, stable and stronger.
Find Your Reasons For Your Cravings And Stop Binge Eating Chocolate
tThere are usually between 8 and 13 underlying and hidden reasons for why people can’t stop binge eating chocolate. My free guide helps you unpack your individualized reason/s, and you can download this free here. Let me know if any of this resonates with you. For more free content and support, join my free Facebook group – Binge Eating And Emotional Eating – Unlox’U Support Group. I wish for you to enjoy your chocolate, love it without feeling like it takes over your life. Lots of love. Eugenia.