The great chocolate experiment

In the last few years, it's become clear to me that I have an addiction to chocolate.

I came a little late in life to the chocolate party, in fact, I didn't like it much until I was in my late twenties. Now I need chocolate some days more than others but every. single. day. I require at least a little Vitamin C (as we call it in our house.)

I know better than to think of this as something I must change completely. I firmly believe that chocolate, in moderation, is fine. A health food even!

But I also hate feeling like I have to have chocolate to get through a day. I don't want to have to break off a chunk of anything every three hours to survive. I want to believe I'm stronger than that.

I know that our housebound existence is in large part the issue here. Most weeks I spend a good portion of my day at home and I eat every single meal here. This means that the pantry, with its delicious chocolate, is right there CALLING MY NAME.

About a month ago, when we ran out of chocolate and I was at the grocery store feeling annoyed that I now require three chocolate bars to get through the week (it used to be ONE), I decided to not buy any, quit cold turkey, just to see what would happen.

(Stupid, I know.)

By the end of the first day, I was twitchy, prowling the pantry for the last handful of chocolate chips. On the second day, I resorted to unsweetened baking chocolate. Day three, I was eying the cocoa when I found one piece of Z's leftover Halloween candy, crumbled in the corner of the pantry. As I licked my finger to pick up the crumbs from the shelf, I felt as close as I've ever been to reenacting a scene from "Requiem for a Dream".

(Have you seen that movie? If not, don't. My nightmares are still fed by it.)

On day four, I went to the store and bought a damn chocolate bar.

The next week, my plan was simply to reduce my consumption. So I bought two bars of a flavor that aren't my favorite, hoping this would diminish their allure.

It didn't.

The following week, I tried answering the craving with something else: drinking a glass of water or eating a handful of nuts before having any chocolate. I cannot tell you how annoying it is to want chocolate but to eat nuts instead. I don't want NUTS, I WANT CHOCOLATE, my taste buds and brain chemistry raged at me.

My current plan is sort of working. I buy smaller bars, for one. (These are my current favorite!) I also try to drink enough water and eat protein at each meal. When I feel a craving for chocolate, I check in with myself, see if I'm feeling stressed (the answer is usually YES) and if there's something else I can do to handle it, like deep breathing, a little yoga, or a mama time out.

But mostly I try to eat chocolate with gratitude and moderation. In the morning, I break one half of a chocolate bar into smaller pieces and remind myself that it's okay to have some when I want, but those pieces should last the day.

They usually do. Every once in a while, I don't even eat my "allotment".

This current state feels okay, good even. This love of chocolate feels like my need to exercise. Or my current reliance on Pr0zac. I like chocolate, it makes me feel good, it gives me a boost when I need it, it helps tip the scales of each day toward happiness.

At the moment, I feel like I've found a reasonable place somewhere between fighting it and overindulging.

What about you? Do you indulge in chocolate? Fight it? Smoke heavy drugs instead?


Hillary said...

I'm right there with you. My downfall is good, dark chocolate. I can (mostly) take or leave milk chocolate, but I crave dark chocolate -- with almonds, with cherries, with sea salt.

grammalouie said...

Hmmmm...yes....how 'bout dark chocolate with candied ginger or peppermint or, my current favorite, rum caramel. What could be bad about that? In moderation, of course!

twisterfish said...

I am a chocolate lover, but can go days without needing/wanting it (I just walked right by a dish full of hershey kisses... go me!). But when I do need it, and for me it is a need, not just a want, watch out world and get out of my way!

Beyond Diapers said...

Food's my thing, esp. carbs and sugar. I am mostly at peace with my addiction and the extra weight that comes with it. If I want to limit my consumption of ANYTHING I have husband hide it. In your case I would have to have husband put chocolate covered almonds in a daily pill container and keep the stash at work.

twisterfish said...

I blame you. After reading this post I went to Trader Joe's and purchased both dark chocolate peanut butter cups and chocolate covered almonds. And of course taste tested them when returning home. It's all your fault. ;)

Stephanie said...

You do realize that dozens of people got up from behind their computer screen and went to find some chocolate today, right? (Walks away, scrounges in drawer, settles for old bag of chocolate chips . . .)

grammalouie said...

I did eat my chocolate today with even more relish than usual and definitely thought of you as the caramel oozed out of the dark chocolate and melted in my mouth. Full of health benefits, I am sure.

Cortney said...

Dark chocolate has gotten me through many a sleep-deprived day. Yep, I'd say it's my go-to vice.

Sarah said...

Well, I recently blogged about my experiment to give up sugar, so you know how well that went! I'm about where you are right now. I just accept and am grateful.
And my current favorite is dark chocolate chips, whole raw almonds and dried cherries tossed together.

miyoko said...

I had a major problem with mounds and almond joy last year. I mean major problem. I never used to eat chocolate the way i do now. This started about a year ago. I think it coincided with my younger turning old enough to talk back to me. I give myself a pat on the back with chocolate.

I now usually have chocolate on the weekends, or at night after a crap day with a glass of wine.

One thing that really changed my chocolate (habit) eating, is since the little one's tree nut allergy diagnosis, we have gone entirely tree-nut free and mostly peanut free in the house. so we have to go back to basics. as far as i know at this point, strictly Hershey plain chocolate bars are the easiest safest (and cheapest!) bars to buy. sure there are mail order tree nut free chocolate factories, but hershey is easy.

at first i was bummed, but i must say, it's all a matter of reframing and now i'm overjoyed that i can get a TON of hershey's bars for $10 at the local store. They're always on sale, and they do the job. :D

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