Eat the Chocolate and Enjoy It!
Jessica is a 42 year old busy mom who constantly craved chocolate. But, despite how much chocolate she ate, she never felt satisfied and always wanted more. She didn’t want to get rid of chocolate – she truly loved it – but she wanted to get rid of her problem with it. She did not want to lose weight, however, she was concerned that if she indulged in her chocolate cravings, she would gain weight. And if she did gain weight, would she be able to lose it? Because after all, isn’t that what happens when you get older? It becomes more and more difficult to lose weight?
Don’t Avoid It
You may be thinking that one of the many food challenges/sugar detoxes out there would do the trick. “Reset those taste buds!”“Gain control over your cravings!” “Avoid chocolate altogether.” All of these statements just reaffirm her beliefs that she shouldn’t enjoy this part of her life.
That’s not what she did, though. You see, Jessica was busy and stressed – stressed about chocolate and stressed with day-to-day life. When we’re stressed, our cortisol levels increase. But increased cortisol also desensitizes us to pleasure, so when we’re stressed, we need to eat more food to feel the same amount of pleasure as when we’re relaxed. It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It makes complete sense that Jessica was craving chocolate, eating it but not receiving the pleasure she so badly wanted, and so the cravings continued.
She also held the belief that chocolate was a “bad food”. In Jessica’s mind, chocolate was a prohibited food that would make her fat. She loved it but knew she shouldn’t have it. And what happens when you tell a 4 year old that they can’t have something? That’s all they want.
The same was true for Jessica. The more she tried to limit chocolate in her life, the more seductive it became. And when she did eat it, she was ridden with guilt which brought on more stress. And when your body is stressed, digestion turns off, nutrient absorption decreases, metabolism slows down, and cortisol and insulin increase which, in turn, stores the food you just ate as fat.
Eat more chocolate, but eat real chocolate. The chocolate that she was eating was pretty low quality milk chocolate. Fat was missing in her chocolate. And research shows that a 50/50 ratio of fat to sugar gives us the greatest endorphin release. Jen switched to 80% chocolate, felt more satiated and, as an added bonus, her chronic constipation also went away (higher quality chocolate contains higher levels of magnesium).
Eat it slowly, breathe and enjoy it. Jessica made peace with chocolate and said no to the “food police” – her inner voice who judged her for eating “good” or “bad” foods. She took 10 deep breaths before eating, ate without distractions and enjoyed her chocolate, guilt-free.
In just a few weeks her chocolate cravings were gone and she didn’t gain any weight. Sure she tweaked what she ate a bit, but the real change was her relationship with pleasure. Instead of fighting it, she learned how to embrace it, leaving her more relaxed and able to receive the pleasure she so badly wanted.
Often times, just saying no to certain types of foods isn’t the answer. It is possible to eat the foods you love and simply change some small details, or the circumstances in which it’s consumed.