Is there Life Without Chocolate?

easter-bunny-707754_1920I loved chocolate. It was my go-to treat and I would always have some in the kitchen cupboard – usually a big bar of Galaxy or Lindt.  It was there for when I needed it, and when I consumed it, out of said need – usually emotional (no surprise there) – I would replenish my stock.  I would never be without chocolate in the house. Once it’s within arm’s reach, it’s surprising (or perhaps not surprising at all), how many reasons there are to draw on it.

The first time I gave up chocolate began one year on Easter Sunday. I’d chomped my way through half an Easter egg without even tasting it.  You know how that goes… break a bit, shove it in your mouth, chomp it, break another bit, shove it in your mouth, chomp it – all the while concentrating not on the delight of the chocolate, but on whatever is on the TV in front of you. A sugar and calorie-laden conveyor belt from lap to stomach (or perhaps that’s from lap to hips, thighs, belly and exploding layers of chin….).

I had a bit of a moment – a non-seasonal epiphany.  I looked at what remained of my chocolate egg and I wondered, if I could eat all that chocolate without tasting it or hardly noticing it even, would I really miss it if it wasn’t there?

I put the remaining half of the Easter Egg in the fridge and six months later, I threw it out.

My first chocolate fast lasted five years, during which time not a single chocolaty delight passed my lips; no chocolate bars, no chocolates, no chocolaty desserts, no chocolate biscuits (yes, that was tough); and no chocolaty cakey gooey stuff either; no truffle, ganache or cocoa buttercream, no chocolate spreads, no chocolate shavings; no chocolate decorations; no chocolate-covered anythings; no hot cocoa or chocolate milk. Nada.

I was doing so well….

Then a dear friend who had forgotten I didn’t eat chocolate, brought round a box of the stuff when I was in dire need of cheering up one evening. I didn’t have either the heart to offend her, or the will to reject the chocolate, and off the wagon I fell.  I’d often wondered – fantasised, I suppose you might call it – about what chocolate I would eat first, if or when I gave up giving up chocolate.  Would it be a creamy Belgian truffle or a slab of 60% cocoa? An unctuous chocolate brownie or a slice of chocolate fudge cake? Would I choose milk or plain? Would I opt for a flavour, like caramel or mint, or keep it pure and… chocolaty? In the end, it was a Ferrero Rocher. I was brought down by a blob of Nutella coated in hazelnuts. I don’t even like them! But that, was that.

I had another go, beginning in 2010, and I did it differently that time.  You can read about it in my blog post ‘Countdown to Chocolate’.  I gave myself Christmas and Easter off each year – chocolate fast amnesties, if you will – and when it came to those two seasons, all bets were off.  (Careful when you read that old blog post – I don’t want to be accused of leading you astray.)  And I have stuck to that programme.

But with my healthy lifestyle drive beginning last September, and having eliminated 95% of added sugar from my diet long before Christmas 2015, I didn’t do my usual, of stocking up on all my favourite chocolaty goodies for the festive season. I stuck to my new healthy lifestyle and remained a stranger to cocoa and sugar throughout December.

Now Easter has come and gone, and I bought chocolate eggs for my nephews, and nothing for myself. It was, I’m delighted to report, a no-brainer this year. It wasn’t a trial, I didn’t even think about it. Or, maybe just for a moment, when my brother brought out a box of mint chocolates the size of a house after Easter Sunday lunch. Actually… not even then. Yes, you can tell I’m feeling smug, can’t you?  A moment’s silence please, for Hotel Chocolat’s profits, which will have taken quite a hit this month.

In case you’re interested, I’m happy to confirm, it IS indeed possible to live without chocolate. Nothing bad happens when you walk on by the confectionary counter, or let the sharing box pass beneath your nose un-rummaged, and on to the next person. Life is… um… lighter without chocolate.  You get a curious sense of triumphalism every time you tell someone you don’t eat chocolate and you watch their jaw drop and their eyebrows soar in utter disbelief.  You have to find other more creative ways of rewarding or comforting yourself of course – and if you’re trying to be healthier as I am this time around, you need to find those rewards and comforts elsewhere than in food or drink. But, friends, it IS possible to live without chocolate.

And like any more seriously addictive substance, once your body – and your mind – get used to its absence, you won’t even miss it.

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Author: Jools

Abundant, Bold, Confident, Determined, Empathetic, Forthright, Grumpy, Healthier, Individual, Just me, Kind, Loving, Mellifluous, Natural, Optimistic, imPatient, Quirky, Real-world, Single-minded, unTreatable, Unwound, Verbal, Wilful, eXtraordinary, Young and old, Zero-tolerance.

25 thoughts on “Is there Life Without Chocolate?”

  1. I admire your resolve, Julie. Even typing all those ‘chocolate’ words and treats would send me scurrying to the stash. I truly admire the example you are providing for the rest of us!

  2. This is inspiring for all those who still cherish their chocolate–like me. I still enjoy it too much to part ways with it, but I take comfort in knowing the dark chocolate (which is my preference) has health benefits. Now, if I could just ditch those M&Ms, I’d be good…

  3. I have never been a chocolate kid but if it secreted nuts or caramel! You see whete I’m coming from. My best half of me is wobbling, pre type 2. So I took the reins, do the shopping, i buy for two, do the cooking, he cooks for ten and is good. For a month we have been added sugar free, portions are now normal and i cook for two so no leftovers. Then Easter never having bought me an egg before I was shocked when a large lintz egg with eggletts appeared. I ate half and shared, he’d been good, I didn’t have the heart not to. Oh my… never again ever, a migrane hit like Lancelots sword.Nausia lights pain dizziness. I slept ten hours straight and today i have felt sluggish, weak, twitchy and unable to cope with noise. Why do we see sugar as a treat it for me at least is poison. I loved your post your willpower and your sass. 😇 Happy Rabitt Ears Day.

    1. Wow… It’s great to hear your ‘added sugar free’ story, and particularly fascinating to hear what an overdose of sugar did to you after having kicked the habit. It brings it home more than ever how poisonous and unnecessary it is! Thanks so much for sharing, Ellen.

        1. I hope you pick up soon Ellen, and I’ll pay close attention – I don’t think I’d want to risk the same experience m. A valuable lesson indeed. 😳

  4. As someone who literally fell off the diet wagon over the Easter weekend, I can only applaud your resolve. I feel so guilty now, as it will take even longer to get back on track. It wasn’t strictly my fault, I have to say in my defence. The chocolate was a gift and I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I ate it all!

    1. I so understand that thing about not wanting to hurt people’s feelings! But why should it take longer to get back on track? Today is already another day, and there’s no reason not to start afresh straight away. I start afresh every day (it helps that I weigh myself every day), but I have a friend who divides every day into 4 quarters and if she has a wobble, she starts afresh at the next quarter-day. That’s a great way to ensure you don’t stay ‘off the wagon’ for more than a couple of hours! Guilt is a wasted emotion. What’s done is done – it’s already past-history. We’re none of us perfect and I have wobbles too (a bowl of cashew nuts last night – might not have been chocolate, but was too many, and a step too far). Just don’t let them be your justification for failure or negativity. Keep on going!

  5. I very rarely eat sweet stuff. I used to bake in wholesale quantities when all the boys were at home, yet seldom ate any of it myself. Except the date and walnut bread and the cheese scones. It isn’t that I don’t have a sweet tooth…I do… and a waistline that expands on the mere sight of a cream cake…
    Chocolate is a rare treat. I didn’t touch a crumb of the stuff over Easter… but I would have quite liked to. 🙂

    1. I’m only now learning the self-discipline that you seem to have nailed. I would love to regard things like chocolate as a ‘rare treat’ but the trouble is, once I treat myself one day, it’s too easy to find an excuse for another not-so-rare treat the next day. I’m better off living without chocolate than taunting myself with thoughts of a rare treat, which somehow becomes a far too regular treat. 🙂

  6. Isn’t it amazing how much will-power you have, Julie. There will always be those moments that will entreat you– if only for a small moment– to give in. And at some future time it won’t be such a bad thing to indulge because the need won’t mean so much. I’ve never had the chocolate needs many have or the want for sugary delights, but have had my own poor choice needs that force me to long debates about what I should do. I was recently diagnosis with type 2 diabetes and it’s blamed on my war time efforts– Agent Orange. Now I’m on a much reduced intake of sugar, which I’ve come to find out that everything has too much sugar in it, and I get these cravings I’ve never had before. I think our bodies make demands for sameness and we have to train them what the new sameness is.
    You’re doing great and very honest and so many are rooting for you. Keep on fighting

    1. Dannie, it starts with a little will-power, but we need more than that to keep it going. And for me, it’s about drawing on the positives, like fitting into smaller clothes, receiving a compliment, feeling good when I make healthy choices and letting myself feel proud of the way that exercising regularly is improving my stamina. All sorts of mini-wins stoke the fire when will-power alone might not be quite enough.

      The important thing about ‘giving in’ every now and again is the way you do it – consciously and joyfully. If you’re not going to enjoy it, what’s the point?! Then…. it’s done, and it’s time to get back ‘on that horse’ again!

      I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It must be tough to realise too, where it had its roots. I’m not any kind of a doctor, but there is a great deal now, all over the internet, on how very low calorie diet can kick-start good insulin behaviour and put diabetes into a ‘remission’. Try the pages of http://www.dietdoctor.com for some really interesting writing on reversing diabetes. Also look up Dr Michael Mosley’s book ‘The 8-week Blood Sugar Diet’.

      Once you drastically reduce your intake of sugar, you taste it quite acutely wherever you encounter it. I find sugar has an icky aftertaste now, which I never realised before. Another commenter on this blog (ellenbest24 above) spoke of the fallout from a weekend indulging in sugar. All this serves to persuade me that none of us ‘need’ sugar. We all ‘need’ treats, but we learn to interpret sugar as a ‘treat’… we can unlearn and find other ways to treat!

      Thanks so much for your encouragement. It’s been a very positive experience, putting my healthy lifestyle journey ‘out there’, and it’s certainly helping to keep me on the straight-and-narrow!

    1. Wow! I’m not sure I could have done it as a child – that’s impressive. But as a grown-up I’m having no trouble, don’t miss it at all.

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