Few foods in the world evoke the emotional reaction that chocolate bars do. For centuries, chocolate has been considered a “naughty but nice” treat. A rich, creamy, sweet confectionery used to reward, woo, and boost our moods.
Many chocolate lovers know the allure of chocolate. More than just a passing urge for a melting morsel, the need for it can feel like an inescapable craving.
So what makes chocolate bars so addictive?
In this blog, we will find out exactly why it’s so hard to say no to one of our favourite foods.
Why You Just Can’t Stop
In one of the most convincing studies about chocolate’s addictive properties, researchers fed chocolate to rats and discovered a surge in enkephalin – a natural brain chemical. What is interesting about this is that enkephalin triggers opioid receptors in the brain. These are the very same receptors that light up in response to the opiates in morphine or heroin.
The effect of increased enkephalin is that you want to eat more chocolate. The rats in this delicious experiment ended up overeating, consuming about five percent of their body weight in M&Ms. That is the equivalent to us eating three and a half kilos of the candy!
The Happiness Factor
It is well documented that along with the sheer pleasure and joy we gain from eating quality chocolate, there are noticeable boosts in our mood provided by some of the compounds in cocoa. Seratonin is released – a natural mood booster which produces feelings of comfort and satisfaction.
Theobromine is another feel-good factor in chocolate. Like a gentler, kinder form of caffeine, it helps us focus and gives a nice, subtle energy boost. These factors together trigger reward pathways in our brain that make us crave the sensation over and over again.
An Irresistible Combo
While the above factors do give some proof for chocolate being a physically addictive food source, there’s a lot more to it. Many other foods – such as broccoli – contain higher concentrations of similar substances. But we don’t see the same level of broccoli cravings as a mouthwatering chocolate bar.
Scientists concur that it is chocolate’s unique and delectable combination of sugar, fat, texture, and aroma that creates the attraction. Particularly, foods that are high in fat and sugar tend to trigger those reward pathways in your noggin. This explains why most of us tend to crave pizza, fries, and ice cream more than a healthy salad and side of tofu!
Training And Conditioning
From when we were kids, most of our parents offered chocolate as a rare treat or reward for good behaviour. It was more than likely not offered ad lib! This taught us to use restraint and limit access ourselves as we grow older. Unfortunately, this often creates a feast of famine splurge cycle that is hard to break!
Whether your chocolate addiction is psychological or physical, there is no denying the pure pleasure gained from indulging in a block or two of high quality, artisanal chocolate. And because this is one of the few addictions that can actually be considered good for your health (in moderation, of course!), we say enjoy it guilt free!
And you can enjoy it delivered to your doorstep every month with The Chocolate Tour! Check out our range of subscription boxes and frequencies in store today and curb those cravings every month! The boxes contain a mixture of flavours and varieties with everything from chocolate bars to bonbons!