Chocolate cravings typically have 4 different causes, which we’ll cover in this article:
- Distraction From Boredom Or Stress
- Caffeine / Mood Booster
- Genuine Hunger
- Magnesium Deficiency
Now if you’re craving chocolate really friggin’ bad like a kid right before Halloween …
Then this simply means you probably have several of these causes presenting at the same time. For example:
- You’re hungry and bored
- You lack magnesium and want caffeine
- You’re hungry, lack magnesium, want caffeine and are bored!
We’ll talk about these causes reasons down below so that you can better figure what your chocolate craving means.
We’ll also cover FAQ’s:
- Why is chocolate so addictive?
- What are you lacking if you crave chocolate? (hint: magnesium!)
- Why am I craving chocolate all of a sudden?
- What helps with chocolate cravings?
Here’s a bonus video too 🙂
Cause #1 – Distraction From Boredom Or Stress
Chocolate can help provide excitement if you’re bored, or it can be soothing if you’re stressed.
How does chocolate provide both relief from boredom and stress?
You can easily have food cravings for chocolate because of sugar.
See, chocolate is made up of cocoa powder, along with sugar.
And cocoa definitely needs sugar because have you ever tried unsweetened cocoa?
It’s horrible! Unsweetened chocolate tastes dreadful!
To make chocolate not taste like death and feel good on your tongue, companies like Hershey’s add lots of sugar.
For example, the plain Herhey’s chocolate bar has 17 grams of sugar while flavors like “Milk Chocolate” have 24 grams per bar.
Cause #2 – Caffeine / Mood Booster
If you think that chocolate makes you feel better, well, you’re right.
A clinical study in 2013 found that chocolate releases serotonin, a chemical that helps create the feeling of pleasure.
Ever wonder why on Valentine’s day you give your sweetie a chocolate? It’s a chemical way of making them love you!
Just kidding, you can’t make someone love you through chocolate, but hey a little serotonin could help boost your mood and alleviate depressive symptoms in a minor way.
(Of course, that little ‘mood boost’ could also be because of all the blood sugar too!)
In addition to sugar and serotonin, chocolate has trace amounts of caffeine.
For example, a bar of chocolate has about 10 mg of caffeine, and the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine.
To put things in perspective though, a cup of coffee has about 100-200 mg of caffeine. So this amount of caffeine in chocolate is pretty minuscule in comparison.
However, when you put the chemical cocktail of sugar, serotonin and caffeine together in your brain …
You can start to understand why chocolate is seemingly addictive!
Why Is Chocolate So Addictive?
Sugar, serotonin, caffeine – oh my!
And don’t forget about fat too!
The most addictive foods that make you crave have some fat in them too:
- Ice cream
- Fast food
Chocolate is a crazy, delicious combination of all your usual culprits behind an addictive food …
Plus, some genuine unique health benefits like releasing serotonin.
Add everything up and that’s why chocolate can seem so addictive and can seemingly cause cravings.
Cause #3 – Genuine Hunger
When you’re hungry, it’s normal to crave fat and sugar.
Chocolate has both.
Unfortunately, just eating chocolate will never be enough to truly nourish you!
In fact, one could eat 5 solid pounds of chocolate or 51 Hershey bars and still be genuinely hungry!
(Each Hershey’s bar weighs 1.5 ounces, and there’s 16 oz in a pound, so that’s 51 Hershey bars!)
How could one possibly be hungry after 51 Hershey bars?
Easy. Your belly would be stuffed. But your brain would know better.
In order to feel truly satisfied, your body and brain need a variety of vitamins, proteins, fibers, and minerals.
If you just eat chocolate, you’ll miss out on these other elements.
You’ll still have cravings for more food even though your belly is stuffed.
Cause #4 -What Are You Lacking If You Crave Chocolate? Magnesium!
This 2011 study shows that chocolate has lots of magnesium.
It’s possible that your cravings for chocolate mean you are lacking magnesium.
If you have low magnesium levels you can also try these foods which contain high levels of magnesium:
- Leafy greens
- Whole grains
- Dairy products
If you no longer crave chocolate after eating these foods, then you had a magnesium deficiency all along!
Does magnesium explain why I am craving chocolate all of a sudden?
Nutritional deficiencies provoke a gradual hunger, not a sudden hunger.
If you are craving chocolate all of a sudden, the craving meaning is most likely because of emotional eating.
While food craving meanings can be various …
Like having a normal food craving when you’re hungry that simply means you need to eat some food …
Versus food cravings that make you feel out of control …
Sudden hunger is one of the main signs of emotional eating. It’s not ambiguous. This type of craving that appears suddenly is clear cut.
Here are some other typical signs of emotional eating:
Now, emotional eating sounds bad.
But before you assume eating chocolate for emotional reasons is always bad, or that your chocolate craving means you’re an ’emotional eater’ …
Please realize that we are all emotional eaters to some degree!
Food is tied with our brain and emotions, so by default, you’re an emotional eater! And same with me!
What Helps With Chocolate Cravings?
Here are 4 general ideas on reducing chocolate cravings:
- Eat 3-5x per day
- Eat a balanced diet that includes protein, carbs and fat at each of your meals
- Try adding easy fats like olive oil and nuts
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit or honey
Don’t Cut Chocolate Out Of Your Diet
For starters, if you try to totally cut out chocolate from your life …
You’ll probably just eat more of it!
Chocolate is a part of western life.
If you try to avoid it you’ll just end up seeing it everywhere you go!
- We eat chocolate for birthday parties and social outings
- Chocolate is readily available pretty much anywhere
- Holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween are associated with chocolate
Plus, chocolate can also have health benefits too!
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by totally eliminating chocolate from your diet!
You’ll miss out on the benefits and your attempts to cut chocolate out of your life will backfire anyways.
Health Benefits Of Cocoa
Chocolate ain’t all bad!
There are health benefits to chocolate too.
Just because candy isn’t good for you, doesn’t mean chocolate is bad for you too.
Cacao is different from chocolate. All the sugar Hershey adds to cacao makes candy ‘unhealthy’ and contributes to food cravings.
If you still are going to eat chocolate as a regular part of your life and are worried about sugar, then at least just go for darker chocolate.
Think dark chocolate. The darker the chocolate the more cacao. The less sugar.
(if you feel guilty about eating chocolate, try switching to dark chocolate as a little experiment and see what happens)
Plus, there are possible natural health benefits to cacao such as:
- Improve mood
- Reduce stress
- Enhance immune system
Conclusion: What Does It Mean If You Crave Chocolate?
The key is being honest with yourself: is your relationship with chocolate making you feel guilty afterwards?
If you are eating chocolate and feeling fine afterwards, it’s fine.
You might have a magnesium deficiency, or just be genuinely hungry. Maybe you need a bit more sleep or some coffee.
These problems are easily solved, whew.
But if you feel guilty after eating chocolate …
Or show other emotional eating signs, then you know you have some emotional eating work to do.
If you realize you have some emotional work to do around food, then be sure to check out my 3 month program to stop binge eating.
The program is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT is considered the first line treatment option for Binge Eating Disorder.
Perhaps the best part about CBT is simplicity! You basically just keep an Awareness Journal around food.
Not a calorie journal or weight diary, but where you record your thoughts and emotions around food.
Have you ever recorded your thoughts around food?
While most people have logged food, calories or weight … usually recording thoughts is a new and refreshing change of pace where you actually get results too!
I’d encourage you to quickly google Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for yourself because CBT is simple and really works!
For example, you can see this woman here who binged for 40 years and then stopped in a few months with CBT strategies.
Get more details here if you’d like to learn more about the 3 month binge eating treatment program.
What’s your favorite type of chocolate? Let me know in the comments!