I have a confession to make. I love chocolate. I have always found it hard to resist, even though I know it is not all that good for me. It’s not that I don’t like healthy foods. I even love broccoli and cauliflower. When it comes to chocolate, however, I don’t seem to be able to help myself. I love milk chocolate, white chocolate, and even dark chocolate. Is there something wrong with me? Do I lack the will-power to just pass by all those delectable treats?
New Scientific Research Reveals Love of Chocolate is Hard-Wired into the Brain
A team of researchers at the Institute of Clinical Physiology in Pisa, Italy, led by Dr. Patricia Iozzo, and her team of researchers conducted a study into the love of sweets. The study consisted of a broad sample of volunteers.
Before the tests began the team gave the participants a psychological evaluation. Using the results of these evaluations, the volunteers were divided into two groups; those who were predisposed to food addiction, and those who were not. Probes to monitor brain activity were attached to the volunteers. Once this was done, the researchers showed pictures of sweet food to their subjects.
While the subjects were looking at the pictures, a researcher would place chocolate into the mouths of the subjects. The researchers were interested in monitoring the areas of the brain that control behaviour, as well as those that react in anticipation of eating sweet foods.
Here Is What They Found
- The activity in every subject increased due to the stimulus of the chocolate
- The amount of the activity varied widely from subject to subject
- In some of the subjects, those who were inclined toward food addiction, there was less brain activity in the pleasure center
- These subjects had less control over what was happening
- These people need more stimulus to achieve the same brain activity
The researchers believe that this why these people eat more sweets in general. They need more sugar to get the same satisfaction as those who do not have a sweet tooth. On the other hand, the subjects which did not show an inclination towards a sweet tooth demonstrated sufficient stimulation in the pleasure center. They also had greater control. As a result of this study, the researchers concluded that there is nothing inherent in food itself that makes it addictive.
Dr. Iozzo said, “There is not a specific substance in the food of most people who show addictive behaviour that can be held responsible.”
Eat More Chocolate
The next time you pass by the sweets aisle and you can’t resist the urge to buy a lot of sweets, remember that your brain is seeking stimulation. You may be tempted, especially by the chocolate. You may even think that it’s okay to eat more chocolate.
It may be beneficial to indulge in your craving from time to time if you are very careful. The reason for this is if you never allow yourself to satisfy your cravings you might lose control and binge. To prevent this from happening, plan ahead so that you do not purchase too many sweets.
Budget for those extra calories, but don’t go overboard and eat too many chocolates or sweets. Increase your activity to burn those extra calories off. You can also fight the urge to eat too many sweets by eating a piece of fruit instead. Also, eating something with protein before you go shopping can help counter your cravings. Remember, though, if you do give in once in a while, you do not need to feel guilty, after all, your brain is hard-wired for those sweets.