I've always known that in efforts to improve my eating habits, chocolate is my weak link. It's not a sugar problem exactly - I could sit next to an apple pie all day and never feel tempted. I can have immense amounts of willpower about other areas of my diet, and I don't have too much of a problem being moderate with the occasional indulgence - e.g. I can have a few glasses of wine with dinner, then not have wine for a week or more - it's not something I even have to think about, the moderation is automatic. But, I'm increasingly questioning if I'm capable of having chocolate in moderation. I know that there is no automatic moderator on the amount of chocolate I eat - if it's in my house, it's as if I hear a constant whisper beckoning me to eat it.
Knowing that my chocolate habit is not a positive for me (too much sugar = bad; too much chocolate = bad sleep; too much chocolate = don't lose weight), I went for the month of January without any chocolate (or other sugar). After the first few days, it was actually really easy to stick with the plan. Taking the month off, I was able to pull apart some of the automatic triggers that led me to eat chocolate (eg stress) and re-direct those impulses, but the fact remained that the biggest trigger - that chocolate is my favorite food - will likely always remain.
At the end of January, I went to SF and took Q on a tour of the Tcho chocolate factory. Clearly I needed to do the tasting. And then I viewed my ability to have just one piece as a bigger achievement than not having any. Of course we could buy the big jar of individually wrapped squares of their amazing chocolate! I wanted to test myself. I want to be able to be one of those people who says - I just have one piece of great chocolate and then I'm done, totally satisfied.
So, for a couple of days, I thought I had conquered my compulsion to eat chocolate. But then, over the course of a week of vacation, one piece became two, then three, etc. I wasn't unconsciously gorging myself or diving into a pint of ice cream with wild abandon - I was savoring each piece (always dark, high quality chocolate), I was observing what my experience was, allowing myself to have the chocolate and observe what it did to my will power, and my emotional state.
Vacation is over, and so is the first experiment in moderation. I realized that while I might want to think I have control over the choice, the reality is I am clearly not fully in control here. So, I've decided to double down with at least another month without chocolate to set a more solid foundation. And, I'm going to be less cocky in my ability to re-introduce chocolate. When this period of absitnence is up, I'm going to manage the transition a bit differently than I did coming off the first experiment. Clearly it was foolish to fill the house with chocolate and create such a big challenge for my will power. It's made me realize that it's definitely my tendency to avoid the baby steps, the foundation pieces that might make something more achievable - I want the end result (self regulation in this case) and I want it NOW! Clearly learning how to build up a stronger foundation and deal with some scaffolding is going to be necessary.
During my time off chocolate, I'm going to do some more research into addiction and will power and try out some different approaches and recommendations. For some reason, this habit is particularly challenging to break so I think it's going to need a different level of consciousness and control than some of my other bad habits.
I do understand that there are some things in our lives that are ultimately all or nothing, but I'm hoping that with chocolate I can find a middle ground. I'm trying to balance the facts that life really is sweeter with chocolate, but that too much of anything is still too much.