Don’t get me wrong, I’m not allergic. Nor am I some kind of weirdo, the only girl in the world who doesn’t like chocolate. I adore chocolate, far more than is good for me. But without some self-imposed boundaries, I could easily eat too much of it. There was always a big bar of Galaxy in my kitchen cupboard and if I got a bit peckish I would chomp the lot and hardly notice – no thinking, no savouring. I couldn’t open a box of Milk Tray without eating every chocolate in sight (except the squishy strawberry one), or go to the supermarket without loading my trolley with great bricks of the stuff; and I couldn’t buy petrol without picking up a Twix.
You’ve noted the past tense, yes?
So to the self-imposed boundary. Back in 2010 I decided to put myself on a Chocolate Fast. I’d done it once before and lasted five years before a weak moment (and not wanting to offend a friend) brought my first Chocolate Fast to a premature end. But I went five years. Five. Years. I was surprised how easy I found it once I got over the first trip to a petrol station, the first trawl around the supermarket and so on. I pretty much forgot about chocolate. I very occasionally picked up a substitute fruit-based sweet when the need for sugar overran me. Skittles were quite good for those moments, but they’re not addictive like chocolate, so it wasn’t as if I was replacing one bad habit with another.
This time around there was no difference, even though in 2010 I was deep in the throes of the mid-life hormonal tsunami that is the menopause. It was easy again. Once chocolate goes out of your head – and out of your cupboard – it’s gone.
Once you stop buying chocolate it’s not there to tempt you, or distract you, or comfort you… or taunt you. It’s obvious; the decision, and the temptation, is in the buying. Once the buying is done the decision to eat has already been made.
For my current Chocolate Fast, instead of going the full cold turkey, I gave myself two amnesty periods each year – the months of December and April. That takes in Christmas (gluttony overload), Easter (eggs!) and… my birthday. And so far, it’s gone well. This is my fourth Chocolate Fast year under the current arrangement.
Come next month I will do chocolate in style – no greasy cocoa-lite mass-market choco-crap for me. The fun starts on 1st December, never early, and I look forward to my Chocolate Advent. This year I’ve ordered up a few of my favourite Selectors from yummy chocolate people, Hotel Chocolat. I bought chocolatey Christmas gifts for others too, but these mini-treats are purely for my own personal, private and undeniably naughty indulgence.
I have to tell you, the Hotel Chocolat box is here already – it arrived over a week ago and it’s sitting not three feet from my desk. Inside there’s a bar of 50% milk chocolate (pure bliss); there’s a little bag of liquid salted caramel chocolates (dribbly, sticky liquid caramel, so, so good); there’s a tub of rum soaked sultanas (imagine, a plump bubble of sultana soaked in rum, bursting from smooth, melty chocolate); and last but definitely not least, there’s a crinkly cellophane bag of butterscotch chocolate puddles.
I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to December.
The weird thing is, where I give myself a month of chocaholism, don’t tend to last the course. I know how this sounds, but I actually get to the point where I’ve had enough chocolate. My taste is satisfied – and I’m done. Last Christmas that meant I put a couple of my little Selectors in the fridge. I didn’t get them out again until my April Chocolate Fast amnesty.
You probably think I’m strange. Well, there you go. We all have a little weird about us, I suppose. I honestly don’t know how I go all those months of the year not being tempted. All I know is, come December, I don’t think there’ll be anyone in the world looking forward to a bite of chocolate quite as much as I am.