CLEVELAND – Valentine’s Day is often celebrated with chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.
And if you love chocolate – it turns out that you’re not alone.
According to Susan Albers, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in eating issues and mindful eating, a recent poll shows that chocolate is the number one craved food in the United States.
But, she said it’s okay to indulge in our chocolate cravings from time to time, if we do so mindfully.
Dr. Albers said there are strategies to help curb those cravings when we’re surrounded by chocolate this time of year.
“If you’re someone who struggles with over-eating chocolate, you can buy chocolate that is individually wrapped,” she said. “This can help you to eat it more mindfully, because it forces you to slow down. Often, were thinking about the next piece of chocolate before we finish the one we have.”
Dr. Albers said our brains are wired so that when the thought of chocolate pops into our heads, our brains begin to elaborate on that thought. Before we know it, we’re thinking about how it smells, how it tastes, and then we want and crave more.
But there is a way around this. Dr. Albers suggests thinking about something else – as quickly as possible – in order to diffuse those consuming thoughts about chocolate.
If that chocolate is still calling your name, try getting up and taking a 15 minute walk, as research has shown that this can help ward off the craving.
Dr. Albers said we can also buy mindfully so, instead of buying a huge box of chocolate, get a small one.
If you decide to go for a little bit of chocolate, Dr. Albers recommends sitting down to eat it.
Research has shown that people tend to eat more calories if they’re walking around while eating.
“In a previous study, participants who ate chocolate while they were walking ate five percent more,” said Dr. Albers. “So, use this motto – ‘always eat, off your feet.’ Enjoy that chocolate, but make sure that you’re sitting.”
If you’re afraid that you’re going to mindlessly eat chocolate when it’s there in front of you – make a plan with your significant other to avoid it all together.
“Make a pact; the two of you can agree to skip the chocolate this year, but make a game plan for what you might buy instead, because it’s often the thought that counts,” said Dr. Albers.