Let’s face it, most of us like eating chocolate – not only does it taste great but it can make us feel good too. Eaten occasionally, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it and certain types of chocolate are even considered to be healthy. It’s good for us!
But the downside is that even if you’re not a regular chocolate eater, you might have noticed that it can become addictive – many people struggle to stop eating it. It only takes a short period of extra consumption – say, over an Easter weekend – to create cravings that make your taste buds tingle at the slightest mention of chocolate. So many of us find it much harder to resist and it can take a few days or even longer to train yourself back into behaving ‘normally’.
Our bodies have to produce large amounts of insulin to break down and help us digest ultra sweet foods like chocolate, but we then go on to experience a ‘sugar low’ because whilst the chocolate can be broken down quickly, our insulin levels need a little more time to stabilise. This ‘time lag’ can make us feel tired, anxious, moody, bloated and keep us awake at night. Follow these simple tips to get your chocolate habit under control:
- Juggle a ball. This may sound a strange thing to do, but each time you have a chocolate craving, it’s similar to a crackle of electricity travelling down a neural pathway. Throw a ball side to side – from your left hand to your right hand and back to the left again – making sure you cross the midline. This will stimulate a different side of your brain. Carry on doing this till you start to feel more in control. If you don’t have a ball to hand, it’s possible to replicate similar feelings by quickly moving your eyes to look to the left, then the right, back to the left etc.
- Move! Similar to the first point, moving your body will shuffle the energy flow in the brain altering the craving. You could hop on one leg, run up and down the stairs, do star jumps, or run around the garden. Whatever takes your fancy. Add a little music to this activity and you’ll be stimulating yet another part of the brain, making it easier to ignore the desire for chocolate.
- Watch for Emotional Triggers: Put a yellow sticky note where you can see it, with the words “What Do I Really Want?”. Too often a craving for chocolate is due to something other than hunger. It could be tiredness, pain, anger, loneliness, fear, boredom, joy, excitement…. Not only will you be eating a sweet, fattening substance unnecessarily, you won’t be addressing the real reason for your craving. Imagine that you were about to be granted a magic wish – and now answer the question “What Do I Really Want?” Chances are, it won’t be chocolate.
- Get a Mirror. Once you’ve resolved to stop eating so much chocolate, it’s going to be a lot harder to break this resolution if you can see yourself doing it. Position a mirror in the cupboard where you would usually keep your chocolates and snacks, so should you ‘accidentally’ reach in to take some, you’ll be met with your own reflection about to ‘do something naughty’. Psychological studies show that this is usually enough to stop us from proceeding.
- Embrace withdrawal symptoms. Everyone is different, but it’s possible you’ll be experiencing withdrawal symptoms by reducing your sugar and caffeine intake. These could create headaches, mood swings, tiredness or even flu-like symptoms. Although unpleasant, welcome these symptoms into your life because experiencing them means that you are getting a few steps closer to ridding yourself of the “hungry chocolate monster” that’s been living inside of you for some time. You are literally, starving him to death and once gone, you’ll feel so much better. Remind yourself that eating too much chocolate never made you feel good and also gave you feelings of tiredness, anxiety, sleeplessness, grumpiness etc. Am I right?
Alicia Eaton is a Behavioural & Emotional Wellbeing Specialist for adults and children working in London’s Harley Street since 2004. Originally a Montessori Teacher who ran her own school, she’s also become a well-known parenting expert and is the author of best-selling books: “Words that Work: How to Get Kids to Do Almost Anything”; “Stop Bedwetting in 7 Days” and “Fix Your Life with NLP”.