Is Chocolate Calling You? – Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego

Is Chocolate Calling You?

Every year without fail Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14 around the world.

Did you know Valentine’s Day is NOT about eating chocolate but rather it is actually based on a true story? The Catholic’s religion recognizes several different saints named Valentinus and the actual saint celebrated on Valentine’s Day is officially known as St. Valentine. How about that!

So, it’s not about eating chocolate or going out to eat, or sparkly jewelry, but rather it’s about a saint that was assigned to watch over the lives of lovers.  St. Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages.

Hmm, I never ever thought about the true meaning of Valentines Day when I was in the throes of indulging in chocolate to the point of a chocolate coma.

The Chocolate Blues

Valentine’s Blues

In the past, I truly thought Valentines was a sad day. I was so caught up in the “me” that I didn’t think past it. I, along with a host of others, fell for the commercial side of Valentines, thinking everyone was out with their Valentine celebrating when that might not be so true. Many people are lonely and many are alone.

Today,  I think of Valentine’s Day as a lovely day to show kindness to everyone. It’s a day of love for your neighbor, your co-worker, your friend, the cashier in the grocery store. And mostly Valentine’s Day is a day of love and kindness towards your self.

I speak about this at length in my recent book: Release Your Obsession with Cheat DAZE: Heal from the Inside Out which looks at how often we use celebrations, holidays, long weekends and vacations as an excuse to have that one cheat day. And of course one day often turns into many days–and Valentines may be one of those days.

As I was taking a wonderful walk this morning, listening to the birds singing…the sky as blue as blue can be…and flowers blooming, I was thinking about what Valentines represents to me today, versus years ago before I understood my out-of-control challenges with sugar-laden chocolates.

In the past, chocolate for sure was my first thought with Valentines. And, I think it still is. The difference is I don’t “act” on it now. I just think back fondly…sort of like an old lover. You could say I romanced the chocolate for sure. In fact, just looking at it makes the brainwaves tingle just as a hard core drug addict would.

Can chocolate be addictive?

Many question if we can actually have an addiction to chocolate.

Chocolate on any given day can be considered a healthy food promoting good heart health, and other days compared as addictive as cocaine. The article written by Abby Perreault, Can You Become Addicted to Chocolate , makes this very point. She notes symptoms of food addiction can resemble drug addiction.

Chocolate a drug?

Yes, chocolate bathed in sugar is like an illegal substance for many, including me. Sort of a sobering thought isn’t it.? How could something so sweet and delectable wreak such havoc in one’s life?

Is it all chocolate or some chocolates?  Dark chocolate with a trace of sugar is not so drug-like—at least not for me, and of course it’s eaten in moderation. It’s the milk chocolate made with sugar that’s most problematic.

I recall many times making a “chocolate run” in the middle of the night and sometimes  not in the best neighborhoods just to get my fix.  As an addiction specialist,  working with drug addicts, I see many similarities with the chocolate addict.  It’s the same jonsing, “gotta have it” no matter the consequence attitude.

Perreault goes on to say both addictive drugs and particularly tasty foods have been found to cause a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter of pleasure, located in a region of the brain known as the reward circuit.

For sure I’ve tapped into that reward circuit more times than I care to admit.  The food addict taps into a chemical imbalance and when the choice of foods includes sweetened chocolate, sugar, flour, and wheat into their system they can’t stop the over consumption. Something clicks in the brain jump starting  volume and binge eating.

My patients, as well as myself, learned after falling many times that we cannot cure this addiction, but we can live a life in recovery. Just like the cocaine addict cannot have one little line, for old times’ sake, because she/he will jump right back into the illness from one little snort, the food addict can not as well.

A  Day of Gratitude

So, what can we do? We can look at Valentines through a new lens. What does Valentines mean to me today? It means total gratitude. My body is nearly 100 pounds lighter than its highest weight.

I am clear in my mind.

I love my bike rides and walks as much as I loved the chocolates (okay…not quite…but close!). I am able to help hundreds of people move past this chronic, progressive, and fatal disease known as food addiction. They learn to have “healthy” relationship with people rather than chocolate.

The price of giving up decadent chocolate for your life back is definitely worth all the preparation and vigilance put forth to break free from chocolate.

It’s evident that as a foodaholic who binge ate, I was obsessed with food, particularly sugary, high-fat food, laced in some way with chocolate. I could and did consume large quantities of these foods to physical, emotional, mental, and relational destructive consequences every single time. I never thought about who I might hurt, including myself. I only I worried about how fat I’d get.

You Can Change Your Life…

You CAN change your life now, there’s still time, no matter how old or how sick you are with your consumption (or lack of) foods. And perhaps Saint Valentine will lend a loving hand. Here are a few steps to start you in the right direction:

  • Admit you have an issue with food
  • Define what it is you are doing with food
  • Plan strategies to let go of bad habits
  • Turn to Spiritual Food instead of Junk Food
  • Recognize your accomplishments no matter how small
  • Ask for help when you know you are not able to get out of this alone
  • Bathe in stillness…often in stillness answers and direction come
  • Take a walk, bike, dance, swim, anything movement, but always in moderation
  • Eat foods that are real not in a box or bag…
  • Consider therapy with a certified eating disorder professional
  • Find a 12-Step group that fits your needs if you want company and group support.

Happy Valentines to all of you!

I am thankful and grateful…

May your day bring you love, peace, and joy.

Do you struggle on or leading up to Valentines Day? Are you a food addict? What books are you currently reading that help you in your recovery? Share your experience(s). I’d love to hear from you. Together we can change food addiction one addict at a time.

Stay tuned…you never know where my mind will wander…

You can leave a comment by scrolling down to the section that says leave a reply.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Hugs to you, I care!

Dr. Lisa

Check Out My Latest Books:

Release Your Obsession with Food: Heal from the Inside Out

Release Your Obsession with Diet Chatter: Heal from the Inside Out

Release Your Obsession with Cheat DAZE: Heal from the Inside Out

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Check out my newest book and explore why you eat out of control when it’s a holiday, birthday, vacation or just your plain ole “cheat day.” Learn the what and why about the foods you eat to better understand why food can cause your moods to swing, your cravings to soar, your weight to increase, your self-esteem to plummet, and your fatigue to rage.

No More Cheating Mentality!

About the Author Lisa Ortigara Crego

Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.

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