For many people, chocolate is a familiar and comforting friend. It’s there when you need it, soothing and tasty and calming, everything a bestie should be.
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Sometimes, however, chocolate becomes much more; it becomes that monkey on your back that you just can’t shake. You find yourself fighting a losing battle as that one piece becomes two and three becomes four and, before you know it, you’re virtually in a diabetic coma with an achy belly and a mountain of regret.
If your relationship with chocolate has taken a turn for the worst, don’t despair. Though it will take effort, you can conquer the cravings and recover from your “chocoholism.”
1. Dismiss The Old Wives’ Tales
Perhaps in an effort to reduce the levels to which they feel blame, many argue, falsely, that cravings are the result of the deficiency of a dietary element.
If your co-worker tells you that she is craving chips, so she must be low in sodium, for example, she is propagating that oft-repeated bit of oh-so-untrue wisdom. While you almost certainly have reasons for craving chocolate, a sugar deficiency isn’t one of them. Get this idea out of your head so it doesn’t influence your decision-making.
2. Pack Acceptable Snacks
When you experience a chocolate craving, it often has little to do with whether you are hungry or not and everything to do with your brain and its undying allegiance to chocolate. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t trick your brain, at least a little, by snacking on another sweet option instead.
Keep fruit, yogurt or granola bars within easy reach so you always have something that doesn’t come from a vending machine to take the edge off your hunger.
3. Delay Your Indulgence
While not always the case, you might be able to wait-out your cravings. If you find yourself jonesin’ for some chocolate around 3 pm, exercise your willpower and wait. Try to occupy yourself with something else. Take a walk, grab a coffee with friends or read that novel that you’ve been wanting to work your way through.
In all likelihood, the longer you delay giving in, the less severe your craving will become – and the less damage you will do when you do finally give in to it.
4. Substitute Your Vices
Trade one treat for another. By doing so, you can still reap the psychological benefits associated with doing something that makes you oh-so-happy without breaking your chocolate-consumption-reduction vow.
Instead of giving in to your want for chocolate, head to the mall and engage in some retail therapy, stop after work and catch a movie or allow yourself a glass of wine. As you partake in this other pleasure, you will almost certainly find it easier to resist the sweet-stuff.
5. Quit… Temporarily
The more you eat chocolate, the more you crave it. Lessen these cravings by engaging in a sugar purge. Give up chocolate all together for a week or two. When you do, you will likely feel powerful cravings for the first 48 hours or so, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD of the American Dietetic Association, but, as you get further and further from your last chocolate fix, these cravings will continue to lessen.
6. Occupy Your Mouth
Keep your jaw moving and you will likely miss chocolate less, states nutritionist Dave Grotto. Keep some gum in your bag and slip a strip into your mouth whenever the cravings become particularly acute.
7. Give In Occasionally
If you, in your well-intentioned zealousness, try to banish chocolate from your diet henceforth and forever more, you will likely find your efforts ultimately fruitless. Yes, you may be able to go weeks or months or even, if you have a will of steel, years without chocolate, but you will almost certainly go back to your good buddy at some point in time. And, when you do, you will be more likely to binge.
Avoid the relapse by allowing yourself the occasional treat. To make sure your treat doesn’t become an every-day thing, select a certain day on which you will allow yourself to indulge and stick to it.