"Chocolate is cheaper than therapy,
and you don’t need an appointment." ~ Anonymous
Why do I always feel so guilty?
I only had two spoonfuls. But it’s always the same. Right before I indulge in what I know will be a dark, creamy, smooth, luscious, sensual thrill, I hesitate.
Chocolate is good for you, I tell myself. It contains flavanols that are supposed to improve blood flow. It improves mood. It’s a good source of quick energy, and contains Vitamins A1, B1, B2, C, D, and E, as well as calcium, potassium, sodium and iron. And, it’s cholesterol-free!
So why do I keep hearing the words, "sin," "cheating," and "hips?" A plain milk chocolate candy bar contains more protein than a banana. Why don’t bananas come with baggage?
The psychological implications associated with chocolate consumption really fascinate me. Sure, chocolate contains chemical substances which produce distinct physical reactions in the body — caffeine and theobromine both stimulate the central nervous system, thereby boosting energy. Phenylethylamine is the substance that stimulates the same reaction in the body as falling in love. But the guilt thing is definitely learned behavior.
I’ve been trying to determine where it all started.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are associated with chocolate. Every time we went to the movies, I had to have Chocolate Babies or Raisinettes. I loved going to Dairy Queen for their dilly bars and hot fudge sundaes. Christmas always meant a five pound box of See’s chocolates from my mainland auntie. My first choice was always those round, milk chocolate caramel-filled patties or the milk chocolate rectangular-shaped nougats.
I remember spooning loads of Nesquik into my milk, and squealing with delight if a box of Whitman’s Sampler ever came into our house. I was enthralled with the diagram, right there under the cover, telling me the names of each piece and what they were made of! Of course there were hundreds of Hershey bars, the thrill of breaking each section off perfectly, and letting it melt in my mouth ever so slowly. I also had many happy encounters with Nestle’s Crunch, fudgsicles, chocolate cigarettes, Oreos, brownies, Tootsie Rolls, and Hostess cupcakes.
No, absolutely no choco guilt then. So,did it start in adolescence, when I was told chocolate was giving me zits, would make me fat, and rot my teeth? (All these claims are false, BTW.)
I decided to ask the experts.
Dr. Freud wanted to know if my mother
gave me my first piece of chocolate.
Dr. Phil wanted to know if I was ready
to own my dependency on chocolate.
This guy, who invaded my blog last month,
simply proclaimed, "No chocolate for you!"
So, I did what I always do when there is problem. I hit the books. I found Chocolate Therapy: Dare to Discover Your Inner Center, by Murray Langham. He’s a psychotherapist who believes that self realization around chocolate allows one to "restore, nourish, and rebalance the human psyche." Once this is done, fears and neuroses supposedly drop away.
He believes that choice of chocolate shape, centers, and even how one deals with a candy wrapper afterwards reveals personality and behavior. Do I believe him? I can’t decide, so I thought you might help me out here.
Okay, take a piece of chocolate:
Don’t concern yourself with milk or dark. Just choose a shape — square, circle, oval, rectangle, triangle, diamond, or spiral. Then see if the profile fits.
CIRCLE: Social butterfly, people person, warm, friendly, keeping the peace more important than being right, can be superficial. Tends to look at outer beauty when it comes to relationships.
OVAL: Expressive with lots of empathy for others, lots of friends, socially adept, works from the heart, creative, retentive memory, broad knowledge. Sensual and experimental in your love life.
RECTANGLE: Loyal, likes to keep a low profile, supportive and calming to your friends, stable, good listener, good concentration, good at organizing others. Romantic and loving in relationships.
TRIANGLE: Mover and shaker, gift of gab, likes getting immediate results, enjoys problem solving, likes to lead, high achiever. Relationships tend to be one-sided.
DIAMOND: Air of innocence, slow and contemplative regarding decisions, loves children, pets, little things in life, concerned about doing what is right for the planet and the people on it, likes expensive things. Deeply committed to your partner, likes to be romanced with all the trimmings.
SPIRAL: Energetic, loves variety and being active, attracted to strange challenges, chaotic home life, full of new ideas, very creative, optimist. Fully enjoys relationships, likes to make the first move.Does any of this ring true for you? I would tend to choose either an oval or square. Most of the traits fit! Maybe now I’m on my way to resolving my guilt — or not.
**To get the full box of chocolates, including Langham’s observations about what your choice of centers indicates, as well as thoughts on types of chocolate and post chocolate behavior, take a look at his intriguing book:
P.S. How did you feel when I offered you that piece? You may borrow my couch anytime.