Last month I was down with an emotional breakdown. My big sis who is part of landmark curriculum kept telling me ‘change your point of view.’ Dr.Chillax my philosopher and Guide (I would like to add friend but there are boundaries that are not transgressed) was talking about how emotions hijack an experience. Now I’m reading sadhguru’s book on Karma but none of/ them could explain the concept as easily as Micheal Pollan –he showed the words ‘chocolate cake’ to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. ‘Guilt’ was the top response, if that strike you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: ‘Celebration’—Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.
Today is an amazing a day, a day where everyone ought to be sent back to bed with hot brandy, a box of chocolates and warm energetic companion. It’s the international chocolate day. This is annual and global; celebration of course is about consuming chocolate. This year marks 470yrs since chocolate piggy rode the Spanish back into Europe. The Mayans call it Xocolatl and is believed to be a gift to them from their God of wisdom more about it in my post A Xocolatl Ode.
Let’s look at why does chocolate make us feel good, why we crave it. Simple reason it feels good. When we eat chocolate the feel good neurotransmitter gets released. It gives the experience of anything you enjoy think of chocolate as premarital sex without the fear of pregnancy! Dopamine gets released when experience anything we enjoy. Of course there people in the world who do not like chocolates, but I wouldn’t trust them too much.
Chocolate contains theobromine which increases heart rate and brings about a state of arousal, caffeine can make us feel awake and increase our ability to work and focus. The fat and sugars add to the caloric space. It was believed that a combination of this caused the craving. A study conducted in the University of Pennsylvania on components of chocolates and combination showed an interesting result.
When the chocolate craving hit the chart flowed like below.
61% decrease with Hershey’s bar.
42% with white chocolate.
16% with coca capsules.
This demonstrates that the decrease in craving is driven by all components of chocolate being taken together and not simply by the biological effects of chemicals. Something about the chocolate makes it the perfect orosensory experience to seduce the palate. How exactly it triggers dopamine, is interesting. Positive experiences promote our survival and the process of positive association of the chocolate the thrill of anticipation, the walk to pick it up, the aroma all adds to the positive feeling. One may not really remember the first experience with chocolate however the brain would remember it. Each time it is re-experienced the feeling gets stronger.
This belief strengthened by social, media and environmental messages that we get. The message is driven so strongly that one does not even need the cocoa berry just the message can trigger the dopamine. Looking at it from an evolution perspective, chocolates indicate love leads to sex; sex leads to offspring and off spring’s means our genes are passed and that essentially declares our survival. When we are overwrought with emotions or what is popularly known as stressing the cognitive system there is a tendency to make food choices that are higher in calorie count. This occurs because our brain consumes huge amount of glucose to meet its energy requirement. In addition to this the processing space available is less hence the choices become more impulsive or sometimes even repetitive.
One way of dealing with these cravings would be to take a few minutes, dissociate from whatever you are working or thinking about before thinking about the meal or giving to a craving. This will allow you to create the mental space to make a focused decision about food.
The best way to eat chocolate is like you are saying a prayer. It enhances your positive experience and lengthens your pleasure experience time. There is no point in exercising or meditating or talking yourself out of chocolate. Chocolate works on body mind and soul level.
Our strength is revealed by our ability to break a Cadbury into the designated brick size with bare hands take one and return the rest to the fridge.
Ixcanil Goddess of Seed, hear me.
Ixtoq Goddess or Rain, help me.
Ixcacao, Goddess of chocolate, see my tears and come to my aid.