Friday, March 18, 2016

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEMICALS




I swore off chocolate over ten years ago, much to the relief of my friends and family.  I realized at that time, that whenever I ate chocolate, within an hour of eating it I would experience impatience and irritability, and if that weren’t bad enough, during the next twelve-hour period I would crash, becoming weepy and depressed.  The depression, depending on how much chocolate I consumed, could last for 24 to 48 hours. 

When I recognized that pattern, I looked up chocolate on the internet and found that it contains phenyl ethylamine in addition to the caffeine I already knew was there. 

Phenyl ethylamine acts on the dopamine levels in the brain and creates a feeling of euphoria.  I’ve read research that says the amount of phenyl ethylamine in chocolate is processed so quickly by the body that it doesn’t have a chance to affect the dopamine levels in the brain and thus produce a mood swing, but I beg to differ.  I know the effect that chocolate has on me every time I eat even a small amount of it, and that is why I choose to avoid it. 

I have a friend who, when I told him of my sensitivity to the chemicals in chocolate, was horrified at the prospect of my never indulging in this particular treat.  He suggested I go to a doctor and get a prescription for a mood elevator. 

This appalled me.  We are talking about the chemical balance of the brain, here, not a little indigestion.  I don’t understand why anyone would risk tampering with delicate balances that govern personality and brain function. 

As a pharmacy technician, I noticed how many people are prescribed mood elevators by well-meaning doctors, and wonder how many of those people could improve their moods swings just by adjusting their diets as I have. 

There are so many potentially harmful substances in the foods we eat it’s hard to know what’s safe.  The best way is to educate yourself as well as possible, keep an eye on your own personality patterns, and adjust your diet and lifestyle accordingly. 

Chocolate is off-limits to me because it isn’t worth the mood swings that I experience after I’ve consumed it.  And my loved ones who know how it affects me, are grateful for my self-control. 

Though I do miss brownies…




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