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.
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.
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?
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.)
Could you give up chocolate cold turkey? How much do you eat?
Emily 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…