Chocolate – what drives us to eat it?

What drives us to eat chocolate?

After recently viewing a YouTube clip of a 1982 Flake advertisement (an iconic Australian chocolate bar), the feeling throughout my body was really familiar... nostalgic almost. On reflection however, the clear sway this television commercial had on my body was the same thing felt almost 32 years later that I felt at five years of age (at the time this commercial was aired) – the wanting feeling, to taste the chocolate, the way the advertisement dragged the viewer in, the actors aglow and the voice soft and creamy, chocolate-like, suggesting and coercing. Pulling, manipulating.

The startling fact here is that the manipulation of the senses had exactly the same effect in my body 32 years later. So the experiment expanded – to another YouTube clip, this time an advertisement from a few years later for a Cherry Ripe (another iconic Australian chocolate bar). Same thing, the effects were forceful – the jingle could be sung word for word, as if it was pre-programmed into the vocabulary. Same effect on the senses too – the pull to want to partake in eating this chocolate bar, the words and the images persuading the senses... chocolate... creamy, sweet, comforting chocolate.

But what begins to change, when we allow it, is our awareness of this process.

Fast forward 32 years... an avid chocoholic for a good part of this period... the pull to eat chocolate imprinted firmly... insatiable urges to eat chocolate daily... easily polishing off half a block, a bar, as long as it was there every day, accessible, within reach to comfort me whenever needed, for relief, for sensory pleasure – chocolate was a friend for all occasions – at least, that's what it felt like.

We could say that the advertisements worked really well. They had hooked, pulled and coerced another customer at a young age, joining in unaware, on the chocolate bandwagon, singing its praises.

Interestingly, it’s not just television that sends us this message. It’s also:

  • The supermarket, the milk bars, the shelves full of the bright shiny wrappers. The YouTube Cherry Ripe ad actually tells us how shiny the Cherry Ripe wrapper is – like we are magpies or bowerbirds collecting treasures for our nest
  • It’s also our reward – parents use chocolate and sweets to confirm when we have ‘been good’. We are led to believe it is a ‘treat’
  • It’s associated with fun, it’s part of birthdays, Easter, Christmas – it marks a celebration, a cake to recognise a point in time, a time where you receive and share in some attention and love
  • It’s socially acceptable
  • It’s comfort – a hot chocolate in the cold, or from Mum when we hurt ourselves. A cuddle in a wrapper
  • We get an instant energy hit when we are tired or exhausted
  • It makes us feel good

Truly felt . . . this is quite devastating – the effect, the influence the outside world actually has on us all. We are basically goners from the start.

In my experience, here’s what chocolate actually does...

  • Causes raciness from the caffeine and sugar, creating excessive nervous system strain
  • A fake ‘high’ – often masking sadness/issues and a false sense of self
  • A quick-fix source of comfort, lasting only a short time and leaving us with a lower end point than before we ate it, emotionally draining us
  • A reward with no health benefits – in fact, harmful
  • Sensory overwhelm, only a quick-fix satisfaction
  • It fills a need in us when we are tired, emotional or upset without having to actually deal with the real issue
  • It numbs and distracts us from feeling the truth
  • It gives us sensory pleasure, working like a drug by feeding our sugar cravings

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For those who claim they love chocolate

Do we really love chocolate or is something else going on?

As an impressionable 5 year old I absorbed all the messages that chocolate or something outside of me was a source of comfort and pleasure – the Cherry Ripe, the Flake, etc. But what if we were shown a different way? What if we were taught to choose to listen more to the wisdom that resides within? Instead of a 5 year old falling for the lies fed about chocolate, what if we were shown to listen to the feeling inside, the one that confirms we are everything already and that no bright shiny wrapper of creamy sweet chocolate will ever replace this natural sweetness?

How would it be if we parent this way now, if we instil our children with a sense of inner knowing . . . knowing that they are perfect first and that all these things on the outside are merely distractions to lure us away from the true power that we are born with?

That the outside world will lure and manipulate our senses as a form of control, willing us to look to them for the answers, the support, the relief and the understanding, or that we need them to feel better.

Society teaches us to always look outside for reward, recognition, gratification, satisfaction, pleasure, happiness and much more. Just like the chocolate advertisements, we are told the grass is greener . . .

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Why look outside when the answer is within?

Coming from our essence can be our natural everyday impulse.

It’s not really about the chocolate, but about the way we are constantly bombarded and fed with misinformation, constantly pulling us to look to the outer to complete us, to fill us – as though we are empty.

But what if we are not empty? What if we actually looked at what drives us to eat chocolate and so many other foods and we found that it is not something innately in us, but is an outside force manipulating us?

What if we found that on the inside, we are actually complete and always have been?

Filed under

ChocolateFood industryParenting

  • By Aphra Hill

  • Photography: Matt Paul