The addictive qualities of chocolate are well-known - it’s not just in your head but actually scientifically-proven.
Studies have shown that eating chocolate results in the same feelings of pleasure and cravings that people get when taking drugs.
But if you’re trying to wean yourself off the delicious, velvety, warming, sweet stuff, a new study may offer some hope.
According to research by Flinders University School of Psychology in Australia, mindfulness could hold the key to curbing your chocolate cravings.
Yes, the buzzword of the past few years apparently has yet another use.
The study was based on examining what’s known as the “elaborated-intrusion theory of desire.”
What this boils down to is a two-step process which explains why we desire food.
First comes the “initial intrusion” stage, which is where the food captures our attention (often caused by environmental cues like pictures). This is followed by the “elaborated mental imagery” stage, where we focus on and obsess over it (where vivid imagery of the craving becomes persistent).
The researchers sought to find out whether mindfulness could help combat both parts of the process.
They tested two groups of women - one set who were all huge chocolate fans but wanted to cut down on their consumption, and the other who claimed they weren’t too fussed about chocolate (although we’re somewhat suspicious such people exist).
Six healthy breakfast recipes - in pictures
Six healthy breakfast recipes - in pictures
You will need: 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 1 stick of celery, 1 cup of mushrooms, 4 to 6 eggs, 1 habanero chilli (optional), 1 tablespoon of oil, 25g of grated low-fat cheese, 150 ml of skimmed milk, 50g of turkey breast. Add some spinach for an extra boost.
Method:1) Cook your turkey breast so that it’s ready to add to the mix later on. Best to grill it and then chop it up as it’s healthier than shallow frying. 2) Meanwhile, heat the oil and add your onion, pepper, chilli, mushrooms and celery to your pan. Cook these for around five minutes until your veg is nice and soft. 3) Whisk your eggs and milk together in a separate bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper. 4) Add the egg mixture, veg, cooked turkey and cheese to a high-sided baking pan or tin and cook in your oven for around 15 minutes at 170C.
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Be careful when you buy your porridge, as some brands will cram a lot of sugar in there. Porridge is a good breakfast option as it is renowned for releasing energy slowly, which means you can get to lunch without suffering from a lull. A great source of fibre, potassium and vitamins, bananas are always a good accompaniment to your morning oats.
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Ingredients: 2 full eggs, 3 egg whites, asparagus, peppers, 50g of smoked salmon
Method1) Boil your asparagus in water for around five minutes. 2) Meanwhile, mix your eggs and egg whites in a jug, and add a splash of skimmed milk. Chop some peppers up and throw them in too. 3) Once your asparagus is cooked, drain it and chop into smaller chunks. Add these to your egg mixture. 4) Whisk your mixture and season with salt and pepper. 5) Pour the mix into a hot pan with a small knob of butter or a teaspoon of quality olive oil. 6) Cook the omelette for around 90 seconds to two minutes. 7) Once the bottom is cooked, take the pan off the hob and place under the grill for another 30 seconds to a minute in order to cook the top. 8) Serve with your smoked salmon.
Greek yoghurt has vast nutritional benefits. Regardless of where you stand on the superfood debate, Greek yoghurt’s credentials speak for themselves. A good source of potassium, protein, calcium and essential vitamins, this food forms an ideal base for a healthy breakfast, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
Eggs Florentine is not only a tasty breakfast, it also carries a hefty nutritional punch, particularly when you throw some spinach into the equation.
So fast and easy to make, yet so effective. Wholemeal toast can be a good breakfast choice, as long as you are sensible with your toppings. Peanut butter is perfect. A good source of “healthy fats”, as well as protein and Vitamin E among other nutrients, a liberal spreading of peanut butter can set you up for the day.
The participants were randomly divided up and asked to try one of two mindfulness techniques:
Cognitive defusion - this method is meant to tackle the first stage of the craving or when the thought of chocolate first pops into your head. The trick is to immediately distance yourself from the craving and “see it as something which doesn’t necessarily have to be followed by action,” the researchers say.
Guided imagery - this targets the second stage of a craving. Once you start imagining the feel, smell and taste of chocolate, you have to replace it with another image such as a serene forest or lonely beach.
Anyone who truly loves chocolate will no doubt think that sounds easier said than done.
The scientists measured the women’s thoughts about chocolate, how intrusive those thoughts were, how vivid the imagery in their minds was, the craving intensity and how much they ultimately ate.
They found that cognitive defusion lowered the intrusiveness of chocolate-related thoughts, vividness of imagery and craving intensity for both groups of women
Interestingly, the guided imagery technique only worked on the chocolate-lovers, who had reduced chocolate-related thoughts, intrusiveness, vividness and craving intensity,
The researchers believe the findings could be useful for anyone trying to combat problematic cravings.
What it's like to recreate your head using chocolate
“If we tackle the issue when it first pops up in your mind – particularly if you are not hungry – then it’s much easier than waiting for those cravings to gather force,” lead researcher Sophie Schumacher said.
“Learn to nip off these cravings at the bud – by giving yourself a constructive distraction such as imaging a walk in a forest – can help to lower the intrusiveness of the thoughts and vividness of the imagery.
“We found it was important to target the initial craving thoughts before they become full-blown cravings.”
During the time it took me to write this article, I managed to munch my way through a handful of mini chocolate eggs, a truffle or two and a nibble of an Easter egg. It may be time to get mindful.Reuse content