Chocolate is universally loved. From white to milk to dark chocolate, fruit chocolate and nut chocolate, everyone knows what it’s like to be craving a piece (or often block) of chocolate. The reality is chocolate is typically high in sugar and fats, making it a high-calorie food that’s easy to eat too much of.
When trying to lose weight, you can be doing amazingly with counting your calories, working out and eating a well-balanced diet. But if you’re overdoing it on the chocolate when the cravings strike, you’ll probably find the scales aren’t going in the direction you want them to.
Some people tend to crave chocolate more than others as well, so if you fall into that boat, on this page you’ll find some common causes for chocolate cravings, and how you can put an end to them once and for all.
Reasons You Might Be Craving Chocolate
There are actually quite a few potential explanations for why you’re craving chocolate, and cravings might hit at different times for different people. Here are some possible reasons:
- Emotional reasons: Sometimes, we crave chocolate when we’re feeling sad, stressed, or anxious. Chocolate contains compounds that can have a calming effect on our bodies, which might be why we turn to it for comfort.
- Hormonal reasons: Many people (especially those who menstruate) report craving chocolate around the time of their period. This might be because our bodies are experiencing hormonal changes that impact our appetite and mood.
- Nutrient deficiencies: Chocolate contains a number of important nutrients, including magnesium and iron. If our bodies are lacking in these nutrients, we might crave chocolate as a way to replenish them.
- Habitual reasons: If you’re used to having dessert after dinner or snacking on chocolate during a movie, your body might have become conditioned to expect chocolate at certain times of day. This could lead to cravings even if you’re not necessarily hungry.
- Low blood sugar: If you haven’t eaten in a while, your blood sugar levels might be getting low. In response, your body might send signals to your brain that it needs fuel, which could manifest as a craving for something sweet like chocolate.
Those are just a few possibilities! Of course, everyone is different, so your reasons for craving chocolate might not match up with anyone else’s. If you’re looking to reduce your chocolate cravings, though, there are plenty of strategies you can try.
How to Stop Your Chocolate Cravings
There are a few ways you can curb your chocolate cravings, and what works for one person might not work for everyone, so it might be a case of trial and error. But with some determination and the right strategies, you can stop your chocolate cravings.
1..Stay hydrated: Did you know that feeling hungry or craving something sweet could actually mean that you’re dehydrated? Next time you feel like indulging in something sweet, try drinking a glass of water instead. This will help you stay hydrated and manage your overall intake. Don’t forget to carry your water bottle with you wherever you go!
2. Up your protein: To feel fuller for longer, it’s important to consume protein with every meal. For breakfast, try Greek yoghurt with berries and nuts or shortcut bacon on rye bread. Lunch could be chicken or salmon patties with a side salad, and dinner should consist of lean protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, brown rice, or soba noodles.
3. More healthy fats: Eating healthy fats can help manage cravings. Some examples include avocado for breakfast, hard cheese and water crackers as a snack, nuts (walnuts, pecans, and cashews) in salads, and salmon for dinner.
Skipping meals can increase sweet cravings, leading to unhealthy snacking. Avoid skipping meals and plan your meals in advance to help control cravings.
4. Choose Low-GI foods: Opt for complex carbohydrates that are more slowly digested and absorbed into the body, as they won’t cause spikes in insulin levels, sugar highs, or cravings. This is particularly important if you have a family history of diabetes.
5. Set limits: Eliminate tempting treats like chocolate from your immediate environment. Instead, reserve them for special occasions and enjoy them in moderation. Try to stick to the 80/20 principle and give yourself permission to indulge once a week.
6. Manage your stress levels: Find alternative ways to manage stress, instead of relying on food. Make a list of non-food options, such as exercise, yoga, or taking a walk on the beach. Changing your physiology can help change your psychology, so get your body moving to stay in the moment.
Are You Deficient in Magnesium if You’re Craving Chocolate?
It’s possible that a magnesium deficiency could be a factor in why you’re craving chocolate. Chocolate contains magnesium, which is an important mineral for our body. Low levels of magnesium in the body can cause various symptoms, including chocolate cravings.
There isn’t enough research scientific evidence, however, to provide a magnesium deficiency that can cause chocolate cravings. It’s important to remember there are many factors that can contribute to chocolate cravings as well, such as hormonal changes, stress, and habit.
If you are concerned about a possible magnesium deficiency or persistent chocolate cravings, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider.
Healthy Foods to Eat When You’re Craving Chocolate
Typically when you’re craving chocolate, your body is craving something sweet. There are plenty of ways to satisfy your sweet tooth while not overdoing it on the calories. Here are a few healthy foods you can eat instead of going overboard with chocolate:
Fruits are a great way to satisfy sweet cravings while staying within a healthy eating plan. They are high in vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants, fibre, and health-promoting phytonutrients. For a delicious treat, try mixing a medley of cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and pomegranate seeds, with some carob chips or cacao nibs sprinkled over top. You can also indulge in strawberries and whipped coconut cream.
2. Raw, Organic Honey
Honey is a great source of natural sweetness and is loaded with health benefits, from supporting the immune system to treating hangovers and sore throats. You can eat a spoonful of raw honey on its own or try it with tea, toast, or yoghurt.
3. Banana Ice Cream
Frozen bananas blended with almond butter and cacao nibs make for a quick and tasty dessert that is even better than “real” ice cream. No added sugar needed! You can even add raw cacao to make it a chocolate banana ice-cream.
Nuts are great alternatives to chocolate as they contain both the magnesium and nitrogen found in chocolate. When your body craves something, it may be lacking certain nutrients. Therefore, eating healthy foods that contain magnesium and nitrogen, such as nuts and high-protein foods, can satisfy your cravings in a healthy way.
5. Dark Chocolate (at least >70% cacao)
Dark chocolate can be part of a heart-healthy diet, as long as it is the right type and portion size (about 2 squares). Choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao to reap all the antioxidant benefits.
6. Frozen Berries
Eating freshly picked berries is always healthy, but frozen berries can be just as nutritious and delicious. Freezing berries when they are freshly picked stores all their antioxidants, fibre, folate, potassium, and other nutrients.
7. Greek Yoghourt
Greek yoghurt is a tasty and healthy snack, rich in calcium, potassium, protein, vitamins B6 and B12. Adding tasty combinations of fruit, nuts, and honey can keep the snack new and exciting every time.
You Can Lose Weight While Eating Chocolate
At the end of the day, a small amount of chocolate is OK to include in your weight loss diet. Where people go wrong is eating too much chocolate and exceeding their daily calorie needs. Dark chocolate is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth and chocolate cravings but is also lower in calories than milk or white chocolate.
Overall, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to focus on a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.