Packaging Warnings Might Inadvertently Promote Chocolate Binges




This is a partnered guest post.

Chocolate is such a double-edged sword, as many women (and especially on-again, off-again dieters) would tell you. On the one hand, it’s rich, creamy, and delicious; on the other, it is highly fattening. On the plus side, some varieties of chocolate seem to present health benefits, if eaten in moderate quantities. On the minus side, chocolate is, at least for some consumers, a highly addictive substance, which will perpetuate a cycle of guilt, depression and excess. So, then, how does one go about this? Is there a solution to alleviating the distress of a chocolate addiction? And, as a matter of fact, does science actually acknowledge that as an actual medical issue? Let’s take a look at what some researchers and experts have been saying.

A chocolate addiction, or chocoholism, as it has come to be known as, might sound like a mild issue. However, there is a fair amount of scientific research out there, which confirms that several substances in the composition of chocolate might be addictive enough for this to qualify as a problem. More often than not, however, chocoholism is emotionally-founded. Research has found that the United States is the world’s most chocolate addicted country, the one where people most often acknowledge a craving for chocolate. At the same time, 40 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men are self-diagnosed chocolate addicts. Chocolate in its purer forms (i.e., baking cocoa or dark chocolate) contains an important quantity of antioxidants, ‘wonder’ substances that can substantially aid in the prevention of certain medical conditions and have even been touted as useful in combatting the effects of aging. There are no specifically addictive substances in most varieties of chocolate, save, of course, for sugars and fats. Highly refined and processed sugars and fats will cause blood sugar level spikes, followed by directly proportionate drops. During those drops, humans experience feelings of intense, disruptive hunger, as well as ‘cravings’. If such behaviours also come to be associated with periods of emotional distress, during which chocolate intervenes as a pacifier and alleviator of negative feelings – you may well be looking at an addiction in the making.

Perhaps the only truly efficient way to address the complex issue of chocoholism (a blend of emotional addiction, improper nutrition and binge eating) is by making use of considerate, up-to-date therapeutic practices. In other words, an addiction to chocolate should be regarded as any other form of compulsive, potentially harmful behaviour. It is repeated with instant gratification as an end goal, but its less healthful effects are quick to turn it into a self-destructive behaviour, with a pattern likely to repeat itself into infinity. Szmerling explains that treating this addiction is best handled through a combination of mindfulness therapy, clinical hypnosis, and cognitive behavioural psychotherapy. This mix stands to help the patient regain their emotional balance and ‘fill the void’ they had been trying to fill with chocolate through more healthful means.

The need to approach this issue through alternative methods has been recently highlighted by a study completed by scientists from the University of Western Australia, in collaboration with several researchers from the University of Strathclyde. According to their research, people who are not actively dieting, and, as such, not limiting their food intake, nor avoiding any specific foods, might be very negatively motivated by warnings on foodstuff packaging. This is because women in particular have developed a pattern of response to food commercials featuring thin models, coupled with negative interventions on labels. This pattern is called ‘reactance’ and says that women who are not dieting will be upset by attempts to disrupt freely determined behaviours, such as chocolate consumption.


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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  1. That picture reminds me of Carrie. LOL

  2. Hilarious photo.

  3. Ha! That photo is kinda scary. I thought the same thing as Jenn.

  4. Oh I love chocolate but I couldn’t imagine wearing it.

  5. That photo is very scary!

  6. That photo is everything!

  7. I need chocolate, but not all over me, lol.

  8. Is that Carrie when she was younger, lol? 🙂

  9. Chocolate? Did someone say Chocolate? YUM.

    That picture crack me up. A dream of mine.. to be covered in chocolate 😉 LOL

  10. That photo scares me!

  11. I’ll stick to eating chocolate!

  12. I don’t know, as the mother of a child with a serious problem I find it ridiculous that anyone would sit around researching if chocolate is addictive. But what ever, I love the stuff too.