Well, it’s Easter weekend. Life in the Safe House is $*.7! The one consolation is that we have more than the usual amount of chocolate. Awesome. I couldn’t bear to blog about life’s ups and downs, so I’ve distracted myself with this little bit about my favourite interest!
Research shows that, on average,
adopters Britons enjoy about 11kg (24lb) of chocolate a year, making the UK one of the biggest consumers of chocolate in the world. Only the Swiss and Germans eat more.
It’s not a new thing. There are stories through history about cocoa and chocolate and under “discovering chocolate” section on Cadbury.com they say that “in the 17th century, the Dutch … brought cocoa beans from America to Holland, where cocoa was greatly acclaimed and recommended by doctors as a cure for almost every ailment…” [Bring it on!]
Some researchers say that Dark Chocolate
- Has many powerful antioxidants
- Is rich in minerals such as Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and Copper
- May reduce risk of heart disease
- May improve brain function
- Increases “feel good” chemicals
There’s a neuropsychologist in US who wrote about “The Resilient Brain” and she works with and writes about people with brain injury and says that dark chocolate is great for brain health. So I do wonder, given that our children’s brains need healing too, if similar applies. It probably can’t do any harm although I’m not sure I can spare my good quality chocolate for them!
What makes us reach for chocolate in times of stress or difficulty? How come we use chocolate as relaxation or calming aid? Well, when we look at it in a sensory and psychological way it may explain.
What senses are most active when we eat chocolate?
- There’s the look of it – highly attractive packaging, smooth dark sultry shapes …
- There’s the smell – chocolate, vanilla, sweet, bitter …
- There’s the taste – firing all those taste buds across your tongue, sweet, bitter…
- There’s also texture – that smooth, silky, sweet, stick to the roof of your mouth
In addition, we know what to expect, there’s a learned response in use, so we think about chocolate and our mouth waters; we remember the previous experiences of calm, joy, comfort, relaxation or whatever.
So we enjoy the feeling that eating chocolate produces in us.
Here’s the other thing: when we are babies, our first soothing experience is when we get milk sensation in our mouths, with the smell of our mother, the taste of familiar sweet, smooth, comforting milk. So it’s one of the closest things to replicating our early soothing experiences.
We know when we are born our brains are hard-wired to respond to certain things in a certain way and that soothing is one of them. We just don’t realise that chocolate provides that for us too!
Do you prefer your chocolate with nuts in or hard and cold from the fridge? Then the need for crunch is, in sensory integration terms, related to other emotions being associated too! (That’s a whole other blog of information about sensory eating.)
What about the psychological stuff?
Chocolate does also produce those “feel good” chemicals yet some scientific people would argue that our bodies regulate those chemicals so that if we have too much our body try to create a balance. These researchers at University of Texas say that we could become desensitized to the effects if we have too much over time! Well, I for one, am happy to be their guinea pig in that study!
However, remember too, we can learn behaviour from our experiences. So were you, as a child, given a ‘treat’ for good conduct? This practice of using food as a treat or as a mood enhancer then means that when we find ourselves feeling stressed, tired, fed up, our mind is wired to desire those same foods because it believes that is what makes us feel good again.
Whatever is driving your chocolate eating, remember the sugar intake that goes alongside consuming large amounts of chocolate is another issue. Consuming more dark chocolate – that is over 85% cocoa – is considered much better because of the higher amount of cocoa, so has more health benefits than milk chocolate although there are similar calories in both dark and milk chocolate!
Interesting eh? Will this change your chocolate eating? It doesn’t change mine!!
I linked this with The Adoption Social and the Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO