The high levels of stress due to the first semester of school, really brings out the inner chocoholic in me. While thinking about the numerous time constraining and vigorous tasks that will come my way in the next few weeks, its priority to have chocolate with just an arm length away. It’s really quite funny that my mind set includes a type of food curing my stress temporarily, especially one that is high in fat and calories, but why do I have such a desire for chocolate in these high moments of stress? Am I just addicted to chocolate- is that even possible? Apparently I’m not the first person to ask these questions.
Maybe the reason why we all crave chocolate so much is because it tastes good, making us feel good. In fact, this is very true. On a biological level the joy of eating chocolate causes our brain to give off neurotransmitters resulting in positive feelings. Our brain’s frontal lobes remember the positive feelings and link them to craving it in the future. According to Psychology Today, “Chocolate does contain theobromine that can increase heart rate and bring about feelings of arousal.” This directly affects this feeling of joy and transmission of the experience to our brain.
Dr. Paul Rozin, of the University of Pennsylvania, further developed this idea of craving chocolate. He studied which parts and what type of chocolate can heal the craving for chocolate. In order to do so, he created a correlational survey to study chocolate cravings. The survey included University of Pennsylvania undergraduates and their parents. Although this is not completely randomized there was still a large sample size with mixed genders and a small range of ages. He found that liking for chocolate correlates with liking for sweets and sensations in sensory properties. They acquired liking based on the sweet taste, the texture, and sweet aroma.
In addition, Paul Rozin came to the conclusion that mainly women have high cravings for chocolate, especially during their premenstrual period, beginning from a few days before the start of the period and ending a few days into the period.
According to FitDay, “Chocolate cravings may be linked to low blood sugar, stress or changing hormonal levels prior to a woman’s menstrual cycle.” Rozin also saw this connection while doing his survey and asking the most common times and reasons that you may crave chocolate. For this reason we can conclude that stress, low blood sugar, and hormones can directly cause someone to crave chocolate. With this in mind, there is still a possibly that the correlation is due to chance and people just wanting to eat chocolate.
In the past, studies have been done to show that Americans have a high degree for liking chocolate. For example, in 1972, Herbert Meiselman researched food acceptance in the US army. He surveyed numerous American military personnel and asked them to rate 416 foods according to liking. Chocolate was ranked sixth out of 416. Although this was not randomized and had a limited amount of choices, the data still suggests that chocolate is ranked highly among American males. This study also corresponds with a survey done in 1991 by Weingarten and Elston. They surveyed what foods university students crave the most and chocolate was mentioned the most frequently, especially when it came to female students. Both of these examples include the variable of stress leading ot the desire of chocolate.