Thank goodness: I’m not an addict!

September 16, 2007 at 3:00 am Leave a comment

Flickr photo by PhoodphightUp there with the perfect lipgloss is the perfect chocolate (well, for me anyway). Glossy, dark and with a smooth, yet bitter taste – that’s my idea of perfect chocolate. Preferably Swiss. And if there’s no dark chocolate available, then those cute Cote d’Or white elephant Belgian chocolates will do nicely thanks (yeah, I know that technically speaking white chocolate ‘aint chocolate because it doesn’t contain chocolate liquor – but I still love the ivory coloured stuff that just melts in your mouth).

I’ve had a life-long love affair with chocolate. I don’t want to give you the impression that I scoff bars of it everyday but, certainly once a week, I like to have a few pieces. Nothing I like better than ripping into the silver foil that covers a chocolate bar and peeling the foil back to reveal rich dark squares, perhaps dipped in a little Amaretto or giving off a whiff of orange scented chocolate truffle.

I’ve often secretly admonished myself – you’re a chocoholic. Surely other people go for weeks, months, even years without whipping into Darrell Lea or Haighs chocolate shops for a quick fix? I’ve occasionally met a person who has said they dislike chocolate (clearly something wrong with these people if you ask me!). I come from a family of chocolate lovers. Even my father, after he retired, went into the chocolate shop business and while studying at Uni, I could be found helping out behind the counter and scoffing the occasional Mozartkugel (a ball of marzipan dunked in a dark chocolate coating). I still have a fondness for marzipan.

But after reading a Reuters article, I can now admit to you that I am not an addict and need no longer worry that someone will find out about my secret passion for chocolate. I don’t have to enter into rehab or use willpower to deny myself the luxury of a piece of buttery chocolate. A British researcher (love his work) says that certain compounds that exist in chocolate, such as phenylethylamine, produce a buzz when they reach the brain and enhance a person’s mood, causing us to think that chocolate is addictive. But cheese and avocados contain higher amounts of compounds and don’t cause addiction. Yep, don’t think anyone has ever told me they’re an avocado addict.

So my beloved chocolate is off the hook – it doesn’t contain substances that cause your head to spin and turn you into a salivating addict. What’s at play here is our social attitude towards chocolate – it’s a forbidden, naughty pleasure almost up there with the apple in the Garden of Eden. We desire it. It looks so tempting sitting there in the chocolate shop snuggled in a colourful, shiny wrapper. It seems to whisper “eat me”. But social norms and the latest fad diets smack you on the wrist if you reach for a taste – it’s fattening, laden with trans fats, it causes your skin to erupt, too much sugar!

Well, maybe if you scoff a lot every day. Like the dude who ate two bags of buttered popcorn everyday for 10 years and who now suffers from so-called ‘popcorn lung’. If you wolf down lots of chocolate daily, then diabetes might come knocking. But if your indulgence is regular and measured then you’re not an addict. The addiction is trying to fight off or deny the urge to indulge.

As the researcher says: “In other words, chocolate is a highly desirable food, but which according to social norms should be eaten with restraint. However, attempting to resist the desire to eat chocolate only causes thoughts about chocolate to become more prominent, consequently heightening the desire.” Our unfulfilled or ambivalent desire to eat chocolate turns into a craving and you begin to think of yourself as an addict.

So go on…indulge in that bar of chocolate you’ve been thinking about whilst reading this post. Give in to your desires. It’s no longer forbidden. It’s time for the chocoholics to fight back – be seen on the streets proudly eating a nutty bar of chocolate; take out that Mars Bar you’ve been hiding in your briefcase and scoff it in public. No shame! Now….where’s that Mozartkugel I bought the other day?

Entry filed under: Chocolate.

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