What I learned from a year of not eating Chocolate.

“You take a hit of cocaine and it makes you a new man, but the first thing the new man wants is a hit of cocaine.” – Stephen King

One of my soft resolutions for 2017 was to not eat chocolate. Not because of the child slavery, or the fact that it’s not actually a health food, but because it was the only thing I had known that approximated “food without brakes.” Here’s why:

  1. I’d buy a bar.
  2. The serving was the entire bar.
  3. I’d wake up the next morning and start trying to figure out how to get another bar later that day.
  4. …And on and on.

I had also hoped that it would take me from approximately 12% to -12% body fat. Chocolate bars are calorically dense, of course, and so I went on without eating any chocolate for the first 359 days of 2017.

A Christmas Treat

For Christmas, my mothers in law always over-buy. Every year they’re going to cut back, and every year we each have at least 2 stockings of swag, never mind the actual presents themselves.

This year included the chocolate staples: sea salt chocolate covered almonds, 85% dark chocolate bars, chocolate covered caramels, and of course chocolate covered toffee. Given that I had not had any chocolate for the entire year, now was as good a time as any to test whether I had effectively “reset” the reward center of my brain as it pertains to chocolate. Did it work?

Hell to the no it didn’t work!

First: chocolate is damn delicious. Second, after nomming on the wonderful flavors, I woke up the next morning with the same pattern. It took ALL OF MY WILLPOWER to not eat any of the chocolate still in the house. As per the Stephen King quote above, it was a new day and that meant chocolate. I didn’t break and by the following day I had zero desire for chocolate, even though it was still in the house.

This was fortunate that it happened on my Christmas break, because it I was training my normal client load, I might have exhausted my willpower and just grabbed a handful. I’m human, after all.

A Better Understanding

When I’m working with clients on habit change, that often includes diet. This story illustrates how some foods truly feed forward into more and more, how they screw with reward centers in the brain, and how the smart thing to do is to not keep any of this stuff in your house. There’s no gold medal or paycheck for keeping foods that control you in the house. Save that willpower for other areas of your life by not buy the stuff and bringing it home.

As for me, chocolate and I had a nice long run, but I doubt I’ll be seeing it again anytime soon!


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