‘Chocolate comes from cocoa, which is a tree. That makes it a plant. So chocolate is salad!’
This popular jest calms our conscience as we indulge in a sweet and satisfying chocolate bar without remorse. Chocolate is even called “comfort food”, like giving yourself a much-needed present. From the anticipation to the thrill to the tingle of happiness as you bite, chocolate is often a medium for quick satisfaction and calm. But then one bite can extend to another… and another…then the whole bar… then chocolate-covered desserts, fruit dipped in chocolate, milk, dark and white chocolate fountains, chocolate pops, chocolate milk ….STOP!
Is it an addiction? Why do we love chocolate so much? Is being a “chocoholic” in fact a real thing? Or is a social myth, an excuse to be undisciplined and indulge? Let’s dip into chocolate and our human relationship with it.
According to one BBC report, the ratio of sugar to fat in milk chocolate is similar to that of human breast milk which is rich in natural sugars, especially lactose (8%), and 4% fat. This ratio is also observed other foods such as doughnuts, ice cream and biscuits, common foods that cause cravings too. Could it be that so called “chocoholics” are trying to recapture the precious taste of the first food they ever tried, human breast milk, by consuming chocolate in large quantities? (Mosley, 2017).
There is also physiology and neuropsychology to consider. Flavanols, chemicals found in chocolate, as well as in certain berries and apples, have been shown to increase cerebral blood flow. Hence they – and chocolate – have a potential connection to improved cognitive function (Haskell-Ramsay et al. 2018). With that being said, chocolate alone is unlikely to be your ticket to passing board exams. Meanwhile, although many people nowadays attend therapy, chocolate can provide therapy-like assistance by interacting with neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins which together play roles in the brains appetite, mood and reward systems (Parker, et al., 2006). The natural antioxidants and other beneficial chemicals found in the pure cacao ingredients like cocoa mass and cocoa butter are thought to be responsible for these effects. This lead Parker, et al., 2006 to note that ‘Chocolate is cheaper than therapy, and you don’t need an appointment’. Other researchers suggest that biologically active constituents of chocolate, such as methylxanthines, biogenic amines, and cannabinoid-like fatty acids can cause abnormal behaviors and psychological sensations similar to those of other addictive substances (Bruinsma, et al., 1999). This is why some find it hard to stop eating chocolate, especially in moments of sadness.
So is our relationship with chocolate a good or bad thing? According to Sesilia Snyder, features of a healthy relationship with chocolate include allowing yourself to eat it when desired, not feeling upset, guilty or ashamed after eating it, enjoying it in moderation and overindulging only occasionally, being mindful of the amount you eat and when, and feeling good about the balance you have with it (Snyder, 2021). The good thing about Snyder’s definition is that there are no hard numbers that mean we have gone from “moderation” into “overindulging”, leaving us to enjoy the way chocolate stimulates both your tastebuds and our sense of happiness.
Improve your Grammar
1. Select the correct article to complete the sentence:
“Human breast milk is rich in _______ natural sugars.”
D) no article needed
2. Identify the correct form of the verb in the following sentence:
Cocoa mass and cocoa butter ________ ____________to contain chemicals with beneficial effects on appetite, mood and feelings of reward.
A) is thought
B) are thought
C) have think
D) has been thank
3. Rewrite the following sentence using the appropriate verb tense:
“According to a report by the BBC, chocolate ________ significant levels of sugar and fat.”
D) will contain
4. Choose the correct preposition to complete the sentence:
“Chocolate can provide therapeutic effects _______ interacting with a number of neurotransmitter systems.”
5. Fill in the blank with the appropriate word:
“Sesilia Snyder identifies to signs of ________ healthy relationship with chocolate.”
D) no article needed
Asnwers: 1D, 2B, 3B, 4C, 5A