It starts as a gentle subliminal nudge. “chocolate…” Within minutes, it grows into an insistent full body urge. “Chocolate. Chocolate. CHOCOLATE!” You can’t (and in my opinion, shouldn’t) ignore it. You have a full blown chocolate craving.
What powers the craving?
It is said that people crave chocolate more than any other food. In the U.S., the typical person eats 11.5 pounds of chocolate a year. Why is chocolate craved more than any other food? Sure – it tastes good, has a silky smooth texture and melts in your mouth…but is there more to it? The question is, are chocolate cravings in the body (physiological) or in the heart (psychological)? There are a wide variety of arguments as to why people have chocolate cravings.
Is the body to blame?
Some think certain compounds in chocolate may be physiologically addictive, activating mood-lifting chemicals in the brain (serotonin, dopamine). However, tests have shown that most mood-altering agents in chocolate are broken down before they reach the bloodstream. Others insist that deficiencies in minerals (such as magnesium, iron) cause people to desire chocolate. But it that’s the case, why aren’t we craving snackable magnesium-filled pumpkin seeds or iron-rich savory thyme with equal vigor?
Or is it comfort we crave?
A 1994 study passed out milk chocolate, white chocolate (which contains zero cocoa), cocoa capsules (utterly lacking the sensory components of chocolate) and placebo polls to a group of subjects. The study found that only milk chocolate fully satisfied the chocolate cravings of the subjects. In addition, their cravings were better satiated by the white chocolate than the concentrated cocoa capsules. This suggests that chocolate cravings can be (SHOCKER!) attributed to its taste, aroma, texture and sweetness.
But really, who cares?
Long story short, when it comes to pinning down the reasons for chocolate cravings, research is pretty inconclusive. But do we really need to know the why? Shouldn’t we be focusing our mental energies on how to best satisfy those chocolate urges? I’m off to check on my secret chocolate stashes. I suggest you do the same.
What do you think causes chocolate cravings? What types of chocolate best satisfy your strongest cravings? Comment below; we crave the feedback!