I think my love for chocolate started as a child. My mom would hide the chocolate in all sorts of places in the kitchen and my sister and I would often spend endless hours searching and hunting for it. It would often be in the most peculiar of places, like inside the casserole pot or hidden behind the spices! The whole experience would always be filled with one of excitement, anticipation and ultimately the sweet satisfaction of eating the chocolate.
Throughout my health journey with endo, I have managed to avoid all the foods which I knew were not ideal for my health. Some were harder than others to initially cut out of my diet, like gluten, but after a few months of not eating them, I barely missed them. Even with sweet things that contained sugar, the initial stage of cutting them out was hard, but after a few months, I didn’t even need any sweeteners in my teas or missed the sweetness I used to add to smoothies. With chocolate, I managed to cut it out for a few months on the initial attempt but it would constantly be drawing me in again, to have it, to taste it and to give me the sweet, delicious satisfaction it held within.
A few days ago, we went to the Valrhona Factory, which is one of the best known chocolate factories in France! James absolutely swears it is the best chocolate he has ever had! Well, as we walked into the factory store, my eyes lit up with excitement. I was just like Homer in the Simpsons—Agrrrrr! I was like a little child oozing with excitement! They had over 30 bowls of various different chocolates to taste and one could walk around the whole store, just gobbling chocolate! What else could I do?
Naturally, I found some little tasters that deserved to be taken home and decided to buy some. I must admit I was quite restrained! I only bought one packet of little ginger ball chocolates and a box of real cocoa. When we got to the till, the shop assistant literally poured a whole heap more chocolates into our bag! There were heaps more chocolates to gobble up!
So, for two days after visiting the chocolate shop, while driving through France and Switzerland, I was eating heaps of chocolates. I combined this with cherries and nuts—trying to make myself feel better.
Well, over the two days, I became almost obsessive about chocolate. I just couldn’t seem to have enough. The more I ate, the more I wanted. It made me feel happy, child-like and free. I got a strange dizzy, calm and content feeling from eating it. I am sure you can probably relate to this feeling with coffee or alcohol or whichever food or drink you are struggling to resist, being on the Endo Diet. It is not the food itself that really provides anything for us. I think, it is the emotional attachment to the food that actually makes us feel good. Like with me, for instance… I have tried to eat raw cocoa made into a fooze ball or in a milkshake but it just doesn’t give me the same emotional satisfaction that I get from eating an actual chocolate.
I personally believe it has something to do with our childhood experiences with the particular food we are attached to. For me, chocolate was always our reward, for being good or when you were not feeling good, a way to pick you up. It was the sweet thing we were given as kids. We never had sweets much or soda or any other foods that most kids seemed to have. It might be different for you. Maybe you just like the feeling a certain drink or food gives you without really knowing where that has come from. A good friend of mine loves her coffee in the morning. To her it represents her quiet time, before the beginning of the day. She savors it and has really struggled to give it up for endo.
So, personally my addiction is chocolate and after two days of eating large quantities of it, I landed up with a bad case of constipation and my skin started to look a little blotchy. I also just felt dirty. I don’t know how to describe it to you but that… I felt dirty inside. Like somehow I needed a good clean out and felt this strong desire to just eat apples and fruit and salads for a few days.
I naturally had to analyze why I get so obsessive about chocolate. Why do I feel the need for it so desperately? I think for me, it is a way to make myself feel good. It is completely superficial because the source of feeling bad comes from an inner sense of not liking something within myself. No amount of chocolate can resolve that feeling or calm it but somehow, whenever I do something I am not proud of or say something inappropriate that I then feel badly about, I feel the desire to eat chocolate. There are two ways of looking at this; naturally I could just accept that I am human and I make mistakes but secondly I can also find much more positive ways to soothe that feeling within myself. One of the best ways I have found is meditation or yoga. I really find it connects me to myself and somehow calms that inner voice.
I think perhaps we often share a struggle to give up things in our diet for the sake of feeling better with endo. I believe a large part of that is recognizing a deeper love for ourselves and wanting to give our bodies the best chance we can.
We also have a tendency to beat ourselves up about “being bad”. I know I went through this for years. We eat something we know is not ideal and because of that we feel bad about ourselves, so inevitably to make ourselves feel better… we need to eat even more—my chocolate addiction all over again!
The thing is, we are not bad. We don’t ever need to feel bad about who we are or how we react. We have good and bad points within ourselves. Those supposed “bad” points can actually be really good points, given the right environment.
What is your addiction? What do you feel you can’t live without? Why do you think you crave certain foods?