April 10, 2018
Cure your Easter addiction: How to curb those chocolate cravings
Easter was over a week ago, yet if you’re anything like us, you’ll still be struggling to get the taste of chocolate eggs out of your mind. There’s something about Easter eggs that makes them so much more delicious than normal chocolate, which is great once a year but not so good when you’re trying to eat healthily.
The problem is, chocolate can be fairly addictive, making it hard to stop once you have a taste for it. This is why you’re more likely to crave a Mars Bar than an apple. In fact, eating chocolate actually releases endorphins in the brain that make you feel happier, which is more than can be said for most foods.
These factors make cocoa products difficult to give up, or even cut down on. However, you can definitely manage it. Part of the solution involves controlling your cravings and taming your appetite, so the urge to eat chocolate is not so strong. Here are some of the best ways to do this:
Imagine eating some
When it comes to eating something you know you shouldn’t, often your mental response is to try not to think about it and hope the craving goes away. While this might make sense, it’s actually unhelpful, as trying to suppress thoughts just makes them more prevalent in the mind. It’s like trying not to think of a pink elephant; you can’t do that without picturing one.
Instead of suppression, you should try imagining yourself eating 30 pieces of chocolate in as much detail as you can. The team behind UK medical TV programme ‘Trust Me, I’m A Doctor’, working with Boston University’s Prof Carey Morewedge, found that this could help cut down on cravings.
Their experiment involved giving 200 people a bag of chocolate each. One group of 100 was told to imagine eating 30 pieces whenever they got a craving for some, while the other was told to imagine eating just three. The former group found they experienced fewer cravings than the latter, as the act of imagining helped take the edge off their urges.
Eat more magnesium
There are hundreds of chemicals in the chocolate you eat, so it’s hard to isolate just one that causes cravings. However, many people have seen positive results from adding more magnesium into their diets, as this could be one of the main substances your body is asking for when it gives you the desire to snack on a chocolate bar.
There are plenty of other foods that are higher in magnesium, but it could well be that your body is craving this chemical and you focus it on chocolate because that is the option you have the most positive association with. Whatever the reason, it seems that magnesium could be a good thing to eat as a substitute for anything cocoa-related.
The chemical can be found in a range of healthy foods, including nuts, broccoli, avocados and bananas. The latter is an especially good option, as it is filling, healthy and provides you with a range of minerals that your body might otherwise crave elsewhere, such as potassium. However, whatever you choose, you must be careful not to overindulge.
Remember earlier, when we talked about the endorphins that chocolate releases? This is part of the reason why it’s so often used as a ‘comfort food’. When you’re feeling stressed, your body looks for a way to get you feeling happier, and chocolate’s hormone-releasing properties make it seem like a good option.
However, there are plenty of other ways to get your brain to release endorphins. A good option is some light exercise, as this will also give you a chance to wind down and clear your mind if you’re having a difficult day at work, or something similar.
You don’t have to go for a full gym session every time you crave chocolate, of course. If you’ve got running gear you can easily slip on, a quick jog will do it. If not, don’t worry: a 15-minute could be all you need to clear the stress – and your chocolate cravings – from your mind.
Replace milk with dark
If after all this you still find yourself craving chocolate, there’s another option: switch to dark. This will give you the cocoa fix you’ve been looking for, but doesn’t come with all the added sugar of milk chocolate.
It’s also a lot richer, meaning it will take fewer squares of dark chocolate to deal with your cravings. The strong taste will convince your brain that you’ve had all the chocolate you need after just a few bites.
Of course, it’s still high in calories, so you can’t replace milk chocolate with the same amount of dark. Instead, your aim should be to eat less overall by having a little bit of dark chocolate rather than a full bar. You might find this is just what you need to get your cravings under control.