Are you a bit of a chocoholic ? Don’t feel bad, eating chocolate is a physiological necessity.
So how can you resist this temptation-cum-stress beater ?
The secret – take a walk.
Just say NO to chocolate is a no no
Aware of the connection between STRESS and the chocolate NEED, a team of researchers from the University of Exeter, set out to find ways to help chocoholics “JUST SAY NO”.
The team knew that it would take more than psychology to resist the urge to self-medicate with chocolate, so they experimented with diversion tactics.
The diversion they used – was an inherently healthy activity, which is relatively easy to implement i.e. a short brisk walk.
The team enlisted the help of 78 certified chocoholics. To participate in the study, the chocoholics had to agree to abstain from ALL chocolate for the 2 days prior to the study – eish ! Fortunately, the reward for this period of deprivation, was an eat as much chocolate as you like opportunity, during the study, which took the form of a simulated work environment.
An all you can eat chocolate buffet ……………………..where do I sign up ?
Half the chocoholics were made to take a simulated walk, on a treadmill. The walk lasted 15 minutes. The other half just rested.
Then the simulated work began.
Some chocoholics in each group, got to work in a really tough environment, others worked, but the task they were required to perform was a whole lot less taxing.
Walking away from chocolate
Chocolate was available to all the “workers”, during their simulated work experience.
And… as expected the chocoholics tucked in. But the extent of the chocolate binge differed.
- Those who had exercised before working, ended up eating around 15 grams of chocolate (an innocent treat). 228
- Those who had rested before beginning to slave away at work, ate on average double the amount of chocolate, around 28 g.
For the record, 28 g is a little less innocent than 15 g, but not a whole bar of chocolate. Not sure about you, but I could polish off a 100 g quick as a flash – wonder if these people weren’t on their best behaviour.
Surprisingly – the difficulty of the task made little difference to the size of the chocolate serving.
What happened to the chocolate-stress connection ? Maybe participating in the study was sufficiently S-T-E-S-S-F-U-L to leave everyone effectively STRESSED and NEEDING a little chocolate medicine.
Make a run for it
So if you’re in the habit of reaching for a chocolate fix, more often than you would like – RUN an errand. When you get back, you’re less likely to stick your hand in the cookie jar.
Of course, not having a cookie jar at your desk, would also help to limit your chocolate consumption.Brisk walking reduces ad libitum snacking in regular chocolate eaters during a workplace simulation. Appetite (2012) 58(1):387-392. Hwajung Oh, Adrian H. Taylor .
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind your love of chocolate ?
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