Dear Dr Benson,
Why do I crave chocolate?
Food cravings are thought to be due to external prompts and our emotional state, rather than actual hunger.
We tend to be bored, anxious, or depressed immediately before experiencing cravings, so one way of explaining cravings is self-medication for feeling miserable.
…One way of explaining cravings is self-medication for feeling miserable.
Chocolate does contain a variety of substances, many of which can have the effect of improving our mood.
Sugar and fat are obvious, both of which stimulate the hypothalamus, inducing pleasurable sensations by increasing levels of serotonin(a brain chemical that is also increased by the use of anti-depressant medications).
The chemical known as Theobromineis also known to have a mood-elevating effect (and can be quite toxic to dogs and cats, which is why pets should never be fed chocolate).
Chocolate has also been shown to contain N-acylethanolamines which may result in heightened sensitivity and euphoria… possibly explaining chocolate’s aphrodisiac reputation!
Chocolate… may result in heightened sensitivity and euphoria… possibly explaining chocolate’s aphrodisiac reputation!
However it is also interesting to know that such chemicals are also contained in other less appealing foods such as broccoli.
So it may be the combination of chocolate’s sensory characteristics — sweetness, texture and aroma — that largely explain chocolate cravings…