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Chocolate: mind over matter

I believe I’ve just broken a record. It may have taken about seven and a half decades, but I can proudly claim a new personal best.

It happened during the Easter long weekend and it involved chocolate.

I was working on the same principle I use at Christmas; the longer I can delay the first ingestion of the creamy confection, the less I will consume over the whole day. Indulge in a chocolate at breakfast and the day is a goner!

Lasting until the official chocolate egg day [Easter Sunday] was easy. But then, on Sunday morning, the temptations appeared, right where you had to walk past them to do anything.

To celebrate Easter and to create a sense of plenitude, Mrs Drabble had centrally placed a hugely generous bowl of goose egg-sized chocolate eggs – real chocolate ones with hollow [rather than marshmallow] centres. They were made even more alluring by their coloured coats of shiny foil; red, gold, pink, lavender and blue winked and glistened at passers-by.

And I passed by a lot.

I drew on all the old tricks – if chocolate comes from a plant, I reasoned, perhaps we should think of it as a salad – but I didn’t succumb. Red, gold, pink, lavender and blue kept winking and glistening from Chocolate Central.

I even drew on the theory that chocolate slows down the ageing process. I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but should one take the chance?

One online jokester even invented a chocolate wrapper with which I could identify. The “brand name” was Emergency Chocolate. The small print said, “For immediate relief of chocolate cravings, lovesickness, exam pressure, mild anxiety and extreme hunger.”

But still, I kept my passer-by status without being seduced.

I even found time to do a little research – just a little. All good things in moderation, after all.

You may be interested to know about the Yale Food Addiction Scale [YFAS]. It’s a tool developed at Yale University, so it should be trustworthy.

A study involving more than 500 adults used this tool to find that chocolate is consistently ranked as one of the most problematic foods for addictive-type eating behaviours.

Other contenders were pizza, chips, cookies, ice cream and cheeseburgers. The most addictive foods were generally processed items with high-fat content and added sugar: They release the reward of dopamine to the brain.

On the same site, I found a list of least-addictive foods. It included cucumbers, carrots, beans [without sauce], apples, brown rice and broccoli. I’m sure you can imagine the effect if Mrs Drabble’s glistening bowl of plenitude was filled, not with chocolate eggs but with cucumbers!

Imagine the delight writ on the faces of children if the Easter Sunday treasure hunt involved hunting for burpless cucumus sativus!

I also found a list of “signs of a healthy relationship with chocolate” and it involved the following bullet points:

  • allowing yourself to eat it as desired
  • not feeling upset, guilty, or shameful after eating it
  • enjoying it in moderation and overindulging only occasionally
  • being mindful of how much of it you eat and when
  • feeling at ease when eating it
  • feeling good about the balance you have with it.

I suppose that was the list that ultimately tipped the scales, so at last, I will reveal to you what time on Sunday I finally yielded to the temptation. It was … drum roll … 10.30pm! I was indeed proud of myself.

    Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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