June 29, 2009 8:01pm CST
Chocolate craving is a common occurrence among women. It can consume us especially when our period is about due. Most women simply give in to their craving and don't think that it is that big a deal, but for others the cravings are so intense that it becomes almost life consuming. If you are turning your house upside down to find chocolate or going out late to specifically get chocolate you are not alone! 90% of women experience chocolate cravings but often it is not taken seriously enough. No matter whether you crave a little or a lot, chocolate is addicted and targets the same area of your brain as heroin does. On top of having an opiate like effect on your brain, chocolate also contains caffeine, theobromine (a stimulant similar to caffeine), phenylethylamine (an amphetamine-like substance) and also traces of compounds similar to THC (the active ingredient in Marijuana). So you are fighting a physically addictive substance here and it shouldn't be taken so light heartedly! On top of physically craving chocolate, chocolate is also a comfort food used by many us. Of course it isn't the only one - other junk foods are also commonly used to emotional numb us, take away boredom and relieve us from stress. However the physical addiction of chocolate as well as the emotional addiction can lead to disaster and can make it almost impossible to overcome. So what do you do when cravings hit? Here are 5 tips to help you overcome the physical cravings to chocolate. 1. Eat a nutritious satiating breakfast. Eating a good breakfast will not only help you overcome cravings but if help you fight them off later in the day. I know if I don't have a good breakfast I can get intense cravings very easily in the afternoon. Be careful what you choose to eat also. Whole foods are the best type of food to eat in the morning as they will give you the energy you need and won't have been stripped from nutrients, so try to consume plenty of fresh fruit with your breakfast. Dr Neal Barnard in his book Breaking the Food Seduction, sites a study stating that when volunteers ate regular oatmeal over instant oatmeal they snacked 35% less during the day. This shows you how important it is to eat a less refined breakfast and one that is nutritious and will sustain you. 2. Eat regularly. Try not to leave a huge gap between meals or leave time for you to start feeling too hungry. Being too hungry can lead to uncontrollable cravings. Eat regularly to avoid getting overly hungry. Five mini-meals spaced out throughout the day may work best. But if that is too hard to accomplish go for three main meals with two healthy snacks. 3. Don't even have a little chocolate. Many people advocate giving yourself a little "treat" now and then. I think that to have only a small treat of something you crave so much is dangerous and always leads to eating more. That has always been the case for me. I don't eat it now and haven't for a long time. I don't miss it either! So be strong. Your cravings will diminish completely after a few days or so. 4. Identify what triggers your cravings. Do you crave chocolate when you are bored, stressed, angry? Find out what triggers your cravings and find something else to overcome the feelings you are having. This can be as easy as allowing yourself time alone to feel the emotion and let it pass, to going for a walk or talking to someone. 5. Wait it out. Sometimes cravings only last a few minutes. So you can try waiting it out. If you find it doesn't subside and are still craving badly have some water or eat some fruit. Don't stock chocolate in your house either as this makes it easier for you to get a hold of and more likely you will cave. These are only a few tips but can be very effective.