Last night we were watching a movie and I decided to bring out a box of roses chocolates that I was given for Christmas. They are all individually wrapped so theoretically a normal person should have one or two chocolates and then put them away. Not me though. I ate one or two and then another one or two and kept going until almost the whole box was gone.
It led me to thinking… Why do I do this to myself? Of course they taste good but after eating more than a few I start feeling sick and I still keep going… Even after reading in the paper the other day that each individual one contains almost 2 teaspoons of sugar (no wonder I feel sick!).
So I’m not doing it to make myself feel good because I end up feeling worse after having too many… So then what drives me to eat so many?
Dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that makes us feel good. We get dopamine from all sorts of things including alcohol, drugs… and chocolate. This is what leads to addiction. But what’s interesting is that according to psychologytoday.com, more dopamine is released when we want to do something rather than when we actually do it. So I feel happier at the thought of being about to eat another chocolate than I do when I’m actually eating it. And certainly happier than I feel after I’ve eaten it. It’s a bit like the common ‘post KFC regret’ that people feel. It always seems like a good idea at the time, we feel sick and gross after eating it, but then we do it all over again next time.
So knowing that the pleasure comes from the anticipation of eating chocolate rather than actually eating it, maybe next time I should just leave the roses on the table until the end of the movie and just have one… Well let’s see how that goes anyway.