It’s Easter!! Yay! SO… If you are about to stuff yourself with chocolate, here’s a funny story.
Hello, I’m a chocolate addict.
First, a few years back I realised I had an addiction, and that sugar in general, including chocolate, can and had in my case, become an addiction as strong if not stronger than drugs. Yes, you can genuinely experience withdrawal symptoms from cutting out sugar.
If you were to try it out seriously you would look at your food and feel appalled at the sugar levels in…everything. you. eat.
At the time I did the experiment of going cold turkey. I worked at a chocolate shop. It was torture.
I was surrounded by thousands of temptations every day all day. I would get freebies, “need” (wink wink) to taste new recipes so I could sell them, smell chocolate, breathe it… And before I had a chance to become chocolate I decided to stop. Freaking freezing cold turkey.
I will keep it short today and hammer the point home.
Here’s what I learned from doing this and my belief:
Your true addiction is entirely a different thing to the object through which it demonstrates itself – in my case chocolate & sugar. In reality your addiction is the habit itself of obsession & extreme, which can be hardwired in to your lifestyle. By going cold turkey you do not change anything, you simply redirect your unhealthy habit.
I have done it and see so many women try cutting out coffee, sweets, salt, carbs, fizzy drinks, or even non food things such as cigarettes, crap tv shows, internet browsing, cars, shopping, whatever it is! There’s no sense or point in going from addict to cold turkey. The basic idea is the same: you are redirecting your habit.
Guess what? After three months solid my birthday came around. I had the tiniest piece of chocolate cake ever… And was vortexed into full addiction again.
Here’s why it didn’t work:
Addiction begins with enjoying a substance or practice and consuming it or doing it to an extreme, to the point where you feel a dependence that is beyond your control.
Attempting to “stop dead” encourages your tendency for the extreme as it simply redirects it to a different object (whatever fear made you want to change).
As a result, when you re-introduce the object of your addiction you can’t find any way to handle your addiction habit itself and it channels straight back to your favourite thing.
The good news is that now I’m getting better, and you can too. I’m still that annoying person that goes to a chocolate tasting experience with work and knows all the types of chocolate, cocoa percentages, origins, etc and gets really excited about guessing them right.
But I now eat it in moderation. I actually feel a desire to stop eating after having a reasonable amount and I don’t feel I could have more even if I wanted to.
More strikingly, the way I was before seems entirely bizarre to me now.
I get quite tired of hearing that you can just stop if you are consuming too much sugar. I understand that it is possible, but most people who have done it either never enjoyed it as much as I did, or make it look like it happened overnight with huge determination after some huge sudden mind shift.
That’s a lie. BS I’d call that. Nothing is that easy.
At the core of addiction is the fact that the addiction has caused a change in you, and you have formed habits around it. Habits don’t break in one day.
So here is what I have been doing:
- Lowering my tolerance for chocolate
- Try to have only higher quality sweet & chocolate products
- Learning to appreciate less processed forms of sweetness
- Reducing my tendency to extreme in general
And here is how I go about each one.
1# Lowering my tolerance for chocolate
There comes a very definite point while consuming something when it switches from enjoyable to indulgent. However I noticed that if I just assign a certain quantity as I was advised to I would never just feel satisfied with it.
My solution is to rate my enjoyment as I go and set a minimum level of enjoyment that I expect to get.
Here’s how it works: Say for example on the first mouthful, it’s a 10 /10 = totally worth it. By the 3rd mouthful, if it has dropped to below are 8/10, it’s no longer worth it and it is time to stop. It used to be a 10/10 so I know it is good quality and I’ll enjoy it again…later.
2# Try to have only higher quality sweet & chocolate products
Very much linked to the first point… again I rate what I eat. There is nothing wrong with being a picky eater, it is good for you, and it’s good for the overall population because the crap just doesn’t need to be sold anyway.
Sorry, but not sorry.
So, again, look at the ingredients, see how much you enjoy it, and rate it to decide whether it’s worth eating it.
I’ll pass any day on a Cadbury chocolate. I’ll have it only if I’m having a bit of a meltdown… then regret it. I’d much rather have a high cocoa content quality chocolate, say Lindt at a minimum. Homemade rather than store-bought.
3# Learning to appreciate less processed forms of sweetness
Again I’m linking to the previous two points… homemade and less processed = much higher quality… and you’d be surprised just how sweet mother nature gets.
You can try fruits on their own, or sprinkle a bit of high cocoa content chocolate on your fruit or yoghurt. Believe me it will satisfy your craving.
One of my favourites as you may have noticed is the old smoothie. Try the following two recipes I concocted for an instant hit:
If you look around you’ll find many alternatives. The key is the less processed, the better. That doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up 😉
4# Reducing my tendency to extreme in general
The tough one. So you’ve got the noticeable habit under control thanks to steps 1-3… what do you do about the treacherous habit of excess?
Apparently I was born with it. I fall in love with things, I give it my all, I don’t do things half way. It’s a blessing in some ways, but there are downfalls.
That’s the point I have the most work left to do on. I wouldn’t actually change myself from a passionate person but I recognise that I need to better appreciate the value of things in general. Oh we get back to learning to appreciate.
So I’m learning to fully recognise the worth of things and actions. What will it accomplish? Here, my passion for chocolate does me more harm than good, so I put it down in my list of interests. This blog however brings me huge opportunities for fulfilment and so it goes up on my list.
In terms of changing the habit of extreme, I guess it boils down to another exercise in rating. It just works for me. Test for yourself.
My suspicion is that over time the simple fact of evaluating things, rating them and acting according to their rating… should pretty much kill off the habit of excess.
You don’t need to excessively rate things, you just need to spend one minute thinking “Is it worth it?”. Exercise your consciousness.
Now have yourself a lovely day – enjoy what you do (and eat)