Why We Over Eat - Is There a Biological Reason?
There are many reasons why we overeat and it seems like chocolate is one of those joys that people find themselves overeating more often than other foods. As the head chocolatier and owner of Sulpice Chocolat, this is a question that I get asked often and there are a surprising number of reasons behind why we crave and essentially eat too much chocolate.
First of all, there are many chemicals in chocolate that raise levels of serotonin in the brain. This is the neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of well-being. So, when people are down or just not quite feeling like themselves it is easy to see why they would crave chocolate. Another reason that some people seem to crave chocolate more than others is shown in a 2007 study by Sunil Kocchar. In this study they describe how everyone has bacteria living in their digestive systems and that there is a certain strain of bacteria that causes strong cravings for chocolate and other foods. So, people may have a biological reason for craving chocolate.
Ultimately though, the reason that many people over eat foods like chocolate is because they are craving specific chemicals, polyphenols and/or amino acids that are found in these types of foods. What often happens is that to satisfy these cravings people go to the easiest to find source, which is often your run of the mill candy bar. These forms of chocolate contain very little essential nutrients and instead have a high quantity of added fats, transfats, sugars and other not so good for you chemicals and preservatives. So, you end up eating a great deal more, and take in a great deal more calories, to get the same satisfaction that you would get by eating a small piece of high quality chocolate, like Sulpice Chocolat.