So, lent came round and out went chocolate. I didn’t even binge on pancake day, just went straight into cold turkey. The less I thought about it, the less of a big deal it would be. After all, there’s still sweeties and biscuits! Giving up chocolate taught me a lot about food and my own eating habits, which I hope will help me make better choices now and in the future.
What I learnt when I gave up chocolate
1. Most sweet foods involve chocolate, but there are options.
For the first week or so I struggled. Not because I craved chocolatey goodness, but because SO many sweet food are chocolate based. Even the ones that aren’t still have casual chocolate chips or chocolate coated bottoms waiting to surprise you. Eventually I settled on flapjacks for my go-to food. At lunch I like to have something sweet to munch after my salad, and flapjacks did a very good job of filling the void left by chocolate. That’s not to say I eat a chocolate bar with lunch every day, because I don’t. But many cereal bars, biscuits, cakey products etc. also have chocolate in them. Or fruit, and I don’t really like sultana foods. I was quite shocked when I found out how many calories are in a flapjack, and I don’t think it’s a good idea that I make a habit of eating one every single day now. Maybe I’ll move on to yogurts now.
2. I CAN have willpower
My diet is often the classic seefood diet – see food and eat it. You know the joke. In order to avoid bad foods I have to avoid the shops stocking the bad foods, which happens to be pretty much every shop ever. As an extra kick in the teeth they tend to put it right next to the till so you can’t even try to just avoid the naughty aisles. So to avoid chocolate, all I had to do was avoid shops, right? Pretty much impossible when you gotta do shopping. I did an online shop one week, but I did inevitably step foot in real shops containing real choc. On top of this, my housemates did not give up chocolate, and one day I came home to discover a CHOCOLATE CAKE. Well, this super bean managed to avoid it. I refused the offer of chocolate more than a few times. It’s like once I really committed to it I could suddenly do it. I suppose the time constraint on it helped, but by the end I hardly noticed I was missing it. Just gotta figure out how to transfer this willpower into everyday life.
3. It does get easier
After about two weeks of not eating chocolate I wasn’t craving it at all anymore. I was barely even thinking about it. In the shops I’d see it and automatically have a block in my brain. Kinda like I do with meat after years of being a vegetarian. To me, meat doesn’t even cross my mind as an option. In the shop the meat aisle is a place I frequent about as often as the children’s toys aisle. Maybe once a year at Christmas to get something for someone else. There’s a theory that it takes 21 days, or 21 times of doing something to form a habit. So after about three weeks of eating a certain way or cutting something out of your diet, your brain starts to stop seeing it as food at all. It becomes habit to decline it. Now Lent is over I am eating chocolate again. In fact I have eaten it in great quantities now the ban is lifted, but that’s because there was an end date. I gave up meat for good, why not chocolate or sweets too? Or at least for a while.