10 things I know about breaking a chocolate addiction

10 things I know about breaking a chocolate addition - Champagne Cartel

Hi! I’m Emily. And I’m a chocoholic. A recovering chocoholic.

Yeah! Good on you, Em. Aren’t we all? I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate, right? High fives all round! #fistpump

See, the thing is, I don’t just enjoy chocolate. I devour it. Smash it. Hoover it. Inhale it.

I have a chocolate addiction.

I used to eat a family-sized block every single day. And if family-sized blocks weren’t on sale? If the big ol’ 350g MEGA BLOCKS were on sale? Or a 1kg tub of Maltesers? Well, I’d eat that instead. After all, I’d be silly not to grab that bargain.

Right?

I quit chocolate on October 7, 2014. I didn’t pick that date for any particular reason. In fact, I had three blocks of chocolate in the fridge when I quit.

I woke that morning to the sound of my crying child, went to the kitchen, broke a bit of chocolate off the block in the fridge, then realised I’d gotten chocolate out of the fridge and almost into my gob before going into the room of my crying child to get him out of his cot. (Not to mention before eating breakfast.)

The chocolate went into the bin, and I went into my child’s room.

More than a year later, here are ten things I’ve learnt about quitting chocolate.

1. Chocolate is delicious.

Oh. My. Goodness. How I love chocolate. The smell! The taste! The texture! The bliss! The joy! (Why did I quit again?)

2. Too much chocolate isn’t good for you.

Der, right? This is something I knew intellectually. But I didn’t acknowledge it. So I looked at the packet. I was eating more than 800% of my RDI of sugar in my daily block of chocolate. And there was plenty of sugar in my other food, too. With my health already being 50 Shades of Dodgy, I didn’t need to put my body under that much extra stress. Bye bye, chocolate.

3. Eating chocolate had become a habit for me.

Again, this is something I knew intellectually. But I didn’t acknowledge it. Because it was a delicious habit, I thought I was eating it because I wanted to eat it. But really, I was eating it because that’s what I’d done yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. I was eating it because that’s what I did when I was hungry, or tired, or bored, or watching a movie, or reading, or writing. Or breathing.

10 things I know about breaking a chocolate addiction - Champagne Cartel

4. Breaking a habit takes time.

It takes a lot of time. You know what else takes time? Building a habit. But building a habit of eating chocolate all day every day is kind of fun, so it takes a while to realise that’s what you’re doing. Breaking it? Less fun. And a whole lot more noticeable.

Have you seen Inside Out? Picture the inside of my head during my chocolate-quitting journey. Picture Joy constantly singing, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the world was Cadbury?” Picture Sadness crying about the lack of melty chocolatey goodness in my mouth. Picture Disgust staring at the alternatives to chocolate and sneering. Picture Fear wondering if anything would ever taste as good as chocolate. And picture Anger… well, Anger only really does one thing. CUE FLAME HEAD. But all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.

5. You have to want to break a habit.

Der again, right? (There’s Disgust, again. Mental note: cool it with the pop culture references. It’s totally try-hard. You’re making me want to barf.) But hang on. I don’t just mean have a fleeting desire or thought that your life without this particular habit would be improved. I mean want to, need to, feel it in your bones.

I have long thought that I needed to break my chocolate habit. In fact, I already did it. Back in 2011-2012, I quit chocolate. I lasted six months, then reintroduced it in small quantities. Then I fell pregnant with bub number two, and the small quantities became large quantities. The large quantities became supersized quantities. The supersized quantities became… you get the point.

But it wasn’t until I was done breastfeeding, little man was sleeping through the night and I had the time, persistence and presence of mind to turn my want to quit into a need to quit that I actually went ahead and did it. That and my AHA! moment at the fridge first thing in the morning.

6. Habits can be replaced.

 

You know what I did when I first quit? I just stopped eating chocolate. I didn’t replace it with anything. If I felt like chocolate, I just didn’t have any. And I felt hungry. I got mad at myself. NO! DON’T EAT CHOCOLATE! DON’T DO IT! But the feeling wouldn’t go away.

It took me longer than I care to admit to realise that you can’t remove 220g+ of chocolate – in fact, of any kind of food – from your daily diet without replacing it with something. The feeling that I thought was hunger specifically for chocolate? Sometimes it was just hunger. I finally worked out that in cases of actual hunger, I could just eat some food of the non-chocolate variety. And there’s quite a lot of that out there. Who knew?

10 things I know about breaking a chocolate addiction - Champagne Cartel

7. Abstinence was my way.

Some people abstain from things they can’t or shouldn’t have. Some people moderate their intake. And moderators, well done. What’s your secret?

Moderation wouldn’t work for me. My budget-setting self would battle my chocoholic self in the supermarket. BUY THE BLOCK! IT WORKS OUT CHEAPER! But then you’ll just eat the entire block and come back. It doesn’t work out cheaper if you eat more and buy more. JUST DON’T EAT IT ALL AT ONCE! IT AIN’T ROCKET SCIENCE! But you know you can’t. You know you’ll eat the whole thing. Your insides are rotting. Put it back on the shelf. NO. YOU ARE NOT SPENDING $2.00 ON A TWIRL WHEN YOU CAN BUY A WHOLE BLOCK OF PEPPERMINT FOR $2.50. Yes you are. NO YOU’RE NOT. Yes you are. NO YOU’RE NOT. Fine. You win. Let’s get both. NOW YOU’RE TALKING. Can’t talk. Eating.

8. Chocolate is always on sale somewhere.

I’ve already mentioned that I’m a bargain hunter. I’m a scrimper and saver from way back, and even if I win the lottery one day, it’s a habit I’ll never break. I found it nearly impossible to walk past a half-price block of chocolate, because I knew I’d want chocolate at some point. So why pay more, right?

But you never really have to pay more. Next week, it’ll be on sale somewhere else. Or a different brand will be on sale. Once I broke the ‘I have to buy it NOW’ mentality, I broke the ‘I have to buy it at all’ mentality.

9. It’s nice not to explain my food choices to my kids.

Eating copious amounts of chocolate while trying to provide my young children with a healthy diet wasn’t going so well. Either they saw me eating it and wanted some too (not so surprisingly), or I had to try and sneak around. I felt dirty and slimy and greasy and icky. And they always caught me, anyway. Every waking moment was dedicated to eating chocolate, thinking about chocolate, or thinking about when I could next sneak some chocolate in a way the kids wouldn’t see. Too exhausting, and in the end, not worth it. Because…

10. Chocolate isn’t THAT delicious.

Oh. My. Goodness. How I love chocolate. The smell! The taste! The texture! The smell … the smell. Whoa. That’s quite strong. It … it isn’t so great, anymore. Actually, I feel a bit sick. Can you get that chocolate away from me? It’s too much. Got any grapes? (Then he waddled away, waddle, waddle. Sorry. I just had to end with a pop culture reference. Waddle, waddle.)

151025 duck lemonade stand

 

Could you give up chocolate cold turkey? How much do you eat? 

Emily HawkerEmily Hawker is an accident-prone recovering chocoholic who reads, writes, marketeers and parents. Words and numbers constantly do battle in her head, which keeps her (in)sane while the kids do battle under her nose. You’ll find Emily at emhawkerblog, the bloggy home where she tucks her thoughts in to bed. Usually in rhyme. But not this time. Wait…

Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.

50 Comments

  • Good on you Em. I am sure there are plenty of sugar addicts out there who can relate. I’ve recently stopped drinking Coke Zero after many years. It feels good to be in control although I do miss that sugar/caffeine high early arvo! x

    • Thanks Vanessa! My daily can of Coke is next on the hit list. I rarely finish it anyway, so for now I’m deluding myself that it’ll be easy to get rid of altogether.

  • So Em do you still eat chocolate things? I don’t eat chocolate as chocolate, but I adore rich chocolatey cakes and biscuits and mousse etc etc etc. Either way, you are amazing! Well done. x

    • I didn’t eat anything with chocolate, Cheryl. No cakes, mousse or anything. I relaxed four or five times for a White Magnum, but that’s it. Now, I’ve made it a year and am letting myself have choc for special occasions, or if I’m out and see something I’ll eat then and there. But no more chocolate in the house. (Except this week. Halloween prep. It’s torture!)

  • I am not an over eater of chocolate and love it every now and again. My only problem is that I crave it most nights after dinner and if there is no chocolate in the house I have a cup of cold milo. V x

    • After dinner is the hardest. The sweet tooth sings to me at night! Actually, doing work on the computer is hard too. I used to have chocolate in my desk permanently at work.

  • We used to have a nightly habit after dinner where we’d make a cup of tea and crack open a packet of chocolate biscuits. And finish it. We then replaced chocolate biscuits with a muesli bar. And then a piece of fruit. And now? We hardly seem to have a snack with our evening cup of tea anymore. It’s not easy, but it can be done!

    • Nice approach! Pegging it back a bit at a time. Well done! That’s what I need to do with my can of Coke every day. Buy the mini cans. Then replace them with something else.

  • A family block a day? Christ, Em. That is off the hook. Tell me, what were your sugar withdrawals like? As you know I gave up sugar for more than a year. I’ve been back on it hard core lately because I feel like I just can’t even handle life without it. It must stop and I think you’ve given me a kick up the pants with this post. Thanks!

    • I know! Disgusting. The most frustrating thing has actually been friends and family telling me I’m crazy because I don’t need to lose weight. They have completely missed the point, which is odd given they know all about my health issues!

      • P.S. And the sugar withdrawals weren’t that bad (mainly because I didn’t ban sugar, and Allens released individual packets of Pineapples MMMMMMM). But I don’t drink coffee, and it turns out that 220g of choc packs quite the caffeine punch.

    • Thanks Amy. It was revolting. And now, I honestly can’t face too much. (For now. Now that little bits of chocolate are being readmitted to my diet, I wonder how long I’ll last.)

  • You have truckloads of willpower Em. Go you! I’ve lightened up on the chocolate lately too, and I do feel much better because of it. I say this as I stuff another fantale in my mouth as I caved yesterday after having a horribly crappy morning. I’ll be back on track tomorrow. Once they’re all gone.

    • Thanks Jodi. It’s funny, I actually think I have no willpower. That’s why it’s all or nothing. If you’d told me to just halve my chocolate intake, I would have had no hope.

  • Onya Em. Now I too know the backstory. I can eat it in moderation as with most rubbish foods which feel & taste good. Years, OK decades of dieting & yo yo ing left me.. Fat(ter) but I’ve learned something about myself this year in one of the tough times in my life & that is I can choose to have exactly what I want to eat & sometimes it’s rubbish other times it’s not & my quantities of food eaten have diminished. It’s a bit crazy but an anxiety/ filled year – which is improving – has helped me lose weight because I’m actually eating mindfully more & emotionally less. Bit of an essay response but wanted to share! D xx

  • There is always chocolate in my house in one form or another and while it is a cheeky indulgence often after the kids are in bed I found my ah-ha moment was when I was telling the girls one thing but doing another. So awesome you lasted a year!

  • There is always chocolate in my house in one form or another and while it is a cheeky indulgence often after the kids are in bed I found my ah-ha moment was when I was telling the girls one thing but doing another. So awesome you lasted a year! #TeamIBOT

  • Wow, you are a braver woman than me. I can’t believe you had such a major chocolate addiction given how skinny you are in photos! I like to have a block of plain dark chocolate in the fridge at all times – mostly because nobody else likes it so I’m the only one that eats it. I’ve been known to have 8 or even 10 pieces in one sitting but no more. Oh, and I’ve been known to say that no meal is complete without a piece of chocolate at the end of it. I may or may not be joking 😉

    • Thanks Janet. I got that a lot. “Why are you quitting chocolate? You don’t need to lose weight!” That had nothing to do with it! Before I realised I needed to replace it with food, I actually lost five kilos. Have put three of them back on now, thank goodness.

    • It’s hard when it’s RIGHT THERE, isn’t it? A friend who somehow hadn’t heard about my chocolate ban brought a box of Favourites to dinner at about the nine-month mark. Proud to say I only cracked it open last week. And I’ve only had four of the chocolates! WIN!

  • I’m definitely not a moderator so abstinence is my only option. I wrote today about a habit I thought I’d broken (well, perhaps reduced) which has again returned to bite me on the bum.

    I completely get the chocolate addiction and go there myself from time to time. I’m usually okay at eating a small amount if someone else is around (and I’m not at my place), but it’s when I’m by myself that things get dangerous.

    I love all of Em’s tips but 5 is a biggie for me because some of the habits / addictions I have, I’m just not sure I’m ready to break….

    • Sitting at the computer is the hardest thing for me. Also, going to the movies. My life doesn’t let me do that very often anymore, but when I do, I feel weird without a packet of lollies or a block of chocolate on my lap!

  • Wow Em. That’s one hardcore addiction you’ve cracked. Good on you. I gave it up for about 3 mths in the lead up to our wedding (nothing like a wedding for motivation) but these days I love it more than ever and it’s so hard to stop once you start! X

    • Thanks Shannon. I worked my butt off (actually, the opposite!) for a year before my wedding to put weight on! Ha! It is SO hard to stop once you start. Better off not starting.

  • Wow, you know I say “I’m a chocoholic” tongue in cheek but I sometimes wonder if I’m skating towards being one. When I give up chocolate I can do it but it takes 5 days of will power and it’s easier if it’s not in the house. Cold turkey is the best way for me.
    So inspired by your story. Well I guess if you can do it so can I.

  • I loved finding out all the details of your quitting story, Em. You’ve done a great job, and one day maybe I’ll get there too.
    And thanks soooo much for putting the duck song in my head!!! Every now and then, Bell busts it out and I hate it! x

  • Inspired, Em. I had no idea your chocolate habit was quite so big – you have always been so slender! How does a bean like yourself get away with eating a family block a night? It seems unfair!

    I indulge every now and then, but it all comes down to not giving myself permission most of the time. x

  • Great blog, it’s worse to try to give up when u know u are overweight and need to get ur health back on. I love chocolates and have phases where I Binge on it, and then go back to moderation… I dream of a world where all chocolate were superfoods that made u super healthy. But sigh. I hope I can give up chocolate in hope of a healthier me, and to make my future of conceiving a baby easier with no complications from all the sugar madness. Thanks for the blog, great writing!

  • THIS IS ME! Except for the kids part but I think I would be the same if I did have them and the part about actually breaking the addiction. I’m getting there. Man it’s so hard. The part about I’m saving money is so on point. Ive found if I’m really craving it I’m laking magnesium. That’s been a big help. Just trying to get to know my body (and mind) and why it wants it so much. Thank you for this post. I knew I wasn’t the only one out there.

  • Hey this is exactly how I was! I decided to quit 2 weeks ago. We went on holiday and spent a week with each other. My husband was shocked at how much chocolate I got through and so when we got back I just stopped buying it. Ive found that I can’t have it in the house. If I want a treat I have to actually go out and buy something that’s not two 100g bars of chocolate. I still have chocolatey things but something much smaller and less frequently and not solid bars of chocolate. I think Ive been addicted for probably about 5 years gradually getting worse and worse and not realising how bad it was. I have also been anaemic and I think that contributed to my compulsion to constantly stuff sugar due to the constant fatigue. It feels good to be free of it all. Thanks for this article. It’s good to know I’m not alone. Good luck to everyone trying to quit.

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