Chocolate - The Love Drug
Exploring the physical, emotional, and soulful cravings for chocolate
For many, especially women, chocolate is a treasured food. Researchers have even reported that the number-one food craving for women is chocolate! It is important to differentiate between physical, emotional and soulful cravings and when it comes to chocolate we may crave it or desire it for different reasons.
On the physical level we may crave chocolate because we are not receiving enough essential fats in our diet, such as avocado, nuts, hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, olives and coconut and so we crave a food that is naturally high in fat, such as chocolate.
Chocolate is also rich in magnesium and those who are magnesium deficient (which many women are) may crave chocolate to receive the same benefits that magnesium can offer us — feelings of calm, relaxation, improved sleep, less muscle aches and PMS relief (ever wonder why you crave chocolate during PMS?).
When we are deficient in certain amino acids and neurotransmitters (the feel-good hormones) we may also crave chocolate. Chocolate contains serotonin, theobromine and anandamide which all help to elevate mood and promote feelings of calmness. Our physical cravings for chocolate are often about releasing our “hormones of happiness.”
Often correcting these nutrients deficiencies through diet and supplementation, can help alleviate our persistent physical cravings for chocolate.
According to Doreen Virtue, PhD and author of Constant Craving, “chocolate creates the feeling of being loved, cherished and understood.” Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a compound that naturally occurs in chocolate. When consumed, it releases endorphins in your brain that produce a mild feeling of euphoria, mimicking the sensation of being in love. So chocolate really is a love drug!
Emotionally we may crave chocolate because we are unfulfilled in our love life. Feelings of disappointment, frustration, boredom or anger within a relationship can trigger the desire for chocolate. Dr. Virtue believes, “ Chocoholism is a cry for love, intimacy and romance.” It is very common to see people use chocolate for the temporary feeling of happiness and love that is not felt in a relationship.
One of the fascinating things about phenylethylamine, is that when you are fulfilled, grateful and feel love (not just romantic love, but love for life), phenylethylamine is naturally released and the need for chocolate subsides.
Emotional eating during an emotional holiday like Valentine’s day.
As we are approaching Valentine’s day, it is very common to feel emotional and emotionally eat, especially if you are unfulfilled in your relationship or feeling lonely on this day. But there is one thing you can do to support yourself — give yourself a healthy dose of Phenylethylamine and not through chocolate but through gratitude and love!
Here are 3 ways you can do that:
There is a universal law, called the Law of Transformation which means that nothing is ever missing in our life, it is just in a form we have not yet realized.
Soul Mate Exercise:
- On a piece of paper make a list of all of the ideal traits you would love to have in a partner.
- Next to each trait, ask yourself, who in my life right now is playing that role (family member(s) pet, friend (s), colleague(s), wellness practitioner(s), coaches, etc. Write as many people that you can think of that are expressing the traits you wrote in step 1.
- Ask yourself, what is the benefit of each of these people expressing this trait in this way to me? How is it serving me? What am I gaining? How is it helping me to fulfill what is important to me in my life? Write as many benefits as you can think of.
- What would be the drawback if I had this trait in only one person? Write as many downsides, negatives, and drawbacks that you can think of
The purpose of this exercise is to help you see that no trait is missing, it is just in a different form you have not yet seen. Your soul mate may be expressing in many people you currently have in your life vs the one you wish you could have. When you become grateful for these forms of expression, you feel love and gratitude for the people in your life and the need for chocolate subsides.
Another valuable tip is to journal.
So often when we eat emotionally, we feel instant gratification which just as quickly turns to feelings of guilt, shame or negative self talk for eating that food, which can perpetuate further emotional eating.
We often miss the opportunity to explore why we ate emotionally in the first place. The key is to use each emotional eating moment as an opportunity to explore the deeper meaning behind why you were triggered to eat in the first place. Simply take pen to paper and just write and land your thoughts. So often these thoughts whirl in our mind and cause more anxiety, stress and sadness. But writing and earthing your feelings on paper, calms the nervous system, allows you to take deeper breaths, and brings feelings of calm just like chocolate does. Journaling is also a wonderful practice of self-love.
One more very transforming exercise is to acknowledge what you are grateful for and what fulfills you.
On this Valentine’s day, bring gratitude into your day by making a list of all the things you are grateful for and do one thing for yourself that fills you up (spend time in nature, read a book, have a great workout, prepare a nourishing meal for you or others, doing something kind for others, treat yourself to a massage or spa treatment, etc). Whatever it is that brings you love, gratitude and fulfillment, do it with joy and gusto!
Soulful Craving for Chocolate
Finally, if it is not a physical or emotional craving, then the desire for chocolate can simply be a soulful one — a pure love and joy for chocolate. Being present and in the experience of eating that chocolate is of most importance when feeding the soulful craving. In this state, experience the aroma, taste, texture, feel the antioxidants, the joy and the pleasure. Eat it slowly, sensually and gratefully. No guilt is allowed when enjoying a soulful pleasure! Soulful cravings are much more controlled than the physical and emotional cravings. They occur occasionally and truly come from a place of “I would love to have some chocolate” vs “I need to have some chocolate.”
Whether your desire for chocolate is for the antioxidants, the pick-me-up, the hit of love, to curb a sweet tooth or for the mere joy and pleasure, always choose a high quality certified organic dark chocolate (80% minimum — I prefer 85–90%). The greater the content of cacao found in chocolate, the less sugar is used. Read ingredients to ensure you are eating only the best!
Chocolate is a perfect example of how powerful a food can be. It truly has the power to alter your mood and help you feel love. For some the relationship to chocolate is simple and for others it is more complex and may need to be explored so that it does not sabotage your good nutritional intentions. It is often never about the food we are craving, it is about what the food represents and offers us that we need to explore. The chocolate opens the door to a deeper exploration of what is happening in your inner world.
What is your love for chocolate trying to tell you?
Amy Bondar, Nutrition & Vitality Expert and Mind-Body Eating Coach helps you rediscover the joy of eating, while creating lasting improvements in your health, eating habits and weight. She is a trusted and compassionate expert whose nutritional wisdom and counseling techniques have helped people overcome health and weight issues for nearly two decades. www.amybondar.com