Gotta Have Chocolate!

GraemeWeatherston/freedigiatlphotos

Sometimes, I just want chocolate.  A piece of fruit won't do the trick, not water, not sugar free gum. It has to be chocolate! I'm sure many of you can relate to this chocolate urge, or maybe it's some other food that you occasionally obsess over.

There are some experts who feel it's a learned behavior---we indulge in chocolate in certain situations (for example, when under stress) a habit develops, and we end up craving that food whenever we are in that situation.  Others point to research showing that eating chocolate actually stimulates the release of neuotransmitters in the brain known to improve mood-- happy hormones. Whether it's behavioral or chemical makes no difference to me.  I just know that occasionally, I've gotta have chocolate!

For years, I told myself that chocolate was bad for me, really bad.  I would refuse to let myself have any if I was trying to lose weight because I couldn't stop eating it.  But eventually, I would give in and take one bite, which led to two, and then it was all over...and so was the diet.  Since I lost control of chocolate once again, it proved that chocolate was bad, and if I ate it, I was bad, too.

Then I hit on a revolutionary thought:  chocolate was just a food.  It was not good, bad or anything in between.  About 17 years ago, I decided to have something chocolate every day while I was losing weight.  Really.  It was hard to get my brain around the old negative chocolate thoughts, but over time, it worked.

I started out with non-candy chocolate every day:  a cup of light cocoa, a double-chocolate pudding cup, a frozen chocolate fudge bar, or a Skinny cow ice cream sandwich. I enjoyed it in the evening, after the chaos of the day.  After awhile, I added an occasional chocolate candy, maybe a few Hershey kisses or an occasional small candy bar.  I let go of the negative image of chocolate, incorporated it into my eating plan, and I lost weight doing it!

Making peace with chocolate was important for my sanity and my health. Don't get me wrong, I still have times when I gotta have chocolate, but I listen to the urge instead of deny it.  Then,  I choose what I want, eat a small portion and I'm OK---most of the time. Sometimes I eat more than a small portion, but it doesn't make me bad, a failure or an evil child.  It makes me human.  If I don't lay on the guilt, I can let it go and continue on my quest for a healthy me.  And, it's good...