If chocolate is that one food you can’t resist, Easter is a dream come true and a nightmare all in one. Everywhere you look, chocolate is being sold, offered and gifted. There’s no escape from it!
Take a breath. Do not panic. There are ways to survive Easter, even if you cannot resist chocolate. In fact, the worst thing you can do is to tell yourself not to have chocolate. So let’s look at how you can find your balance with chocolate over the holiday.
Stop telling yourself you can’t have chocolate!
Saying no to chocolate doesn’t work. Telling yourself you can’t have chocolate doesn’t work. All you will do is end up obsessing over the chocolate!
The unconscious mind cannot process negatives. So when you tell yourself ‘I’m not eating chocolate, I’m not eating chocolate’, what does it hear? ‘Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!’
When you focus on what you DON’T want, all you do is call your unconscious mind’s attention to it. Your mind will keep thinking about it. At some point, it will become unbearable, and you will go crazy! That’s how you transform from an everyday person who enjoys chocolate into a chocolate-eating machine.
Remember why your unconscious mind wants you to eat chocolate
You want to eat chocolate even if you’re not restricting yourself. But why? There are plenty of reasons why we might crave chocolate. But often it comes down to chocolate’s impact on pleasure and pain.
Chocolate is a comfort food for many, helping us to temporarily forget stressful and unpleasant situations. Stress, sadness, loneliness and frustration all melt away when you eat chocolate. Except that effect is only temporary – so those feelings return with an extra helping of guilt.
Chocolate also contains compounds that give us a rush of pleasure. So if we remember that the unconscious mind wants to move us away from pain and toward pleasure, chocolate is the perfect food for the unconscious mind to latch onto.
You can get around by increasing your own pleasure and reducing any pain, so the unconscious mind doesn’t have to do it for you.
Increasing your pleasure is as simple as doing more things that you enjoy throughout the day. Give yourself 15 minutes every morning to slowly sip your coffee before tackling the to-do list. Spend a few minutes out in the sunshine whenever you can. Cuddle a loved one or a pet. Have a leisurely bath or shower while your partner watches the kids. Whatever makes you feel good will reduce your reliance on chocolate’s feel-good properties.
To reduce pain, you need to find new ways to deal with unpleasant emotions. Sometimes, all you need to do is acknowledge that you feel something! Then find a way to relieve that emotion more directly – call a friend, write down what is upsetting you, or just take some time to unwind at the end of the day.
Switch off the autopilot – choose your foods consciously
At Easter, chocolate is everywhere, just waiting to be eaten. So there’s a good chance that at least once, you’ve eaten your way through 4 or more little Easter eggs without even realising it.
This is because your brain has gone into autopilot mode. You might have been chatting with a friend, or watching some TV, and the chocolate happened to be in reach.
But you don’t have to let your autopilot mode have the power. You have the power when it comes to the food you put in your mouth! All you have to do is make conscious choices instead.
What kind of choices could you make about chocolate around Easter-time? It could be:
- Eating a balanced meal before having chocolate
- Having a smoothie in the morning on the Sunday before the Easter treats come out
- Sitting and savouring one Easter egg per day
- Buying yourself some good-quality chocolate instead of eating cheap Easter eggs with the kids
Whatever choices you make, set it up so that you are choosing how you want to enjoy your chocolate. Which brings us to the final point!
The most important step – savour your chocolate
If you end up eating the chocolate, even after telling yourself no, you won’t enjoy it. Or you’ll enjoy it for a few minutes, and then feel guilty and ashamed of yourself. No one should ever feel guilty about food, because it doesn’t serve anyone to feel guilty!
That’s why stopping and fully savouring the chocolate that you choose to eat is so important. Your brain will release feel-good chemicals. You’ll feel less guilty, so your unconscious mind won’t have that painful emotion to deal with.
Of course, there is one more benefit. When you take your time with eating, you’re less likely to overeat. Your body has a chance to send you the cues saying ‘we’ve had enough!’. So you can stop eating when you’re satisfied, rather than cramming it all in and feeling sick later. And that means more chocolate to savour tomorrow!