Chocolate: could you give it up?

February is Dechox month, when the British Heart Foundation (BHF) encourages people to give up chocolate and all other products containing cocoa for a month while raising funds for its life-saving research.

But a survey carried out by the charity suggests many of us are so attached to our favourite sweet treat, it could cause real problems if we ever had to give it up for good.

The UK has a passion for chocolate, the survey suggests, with a fifth of adults indulging their sweet tooth two to three times a week and almost a quarter of women eating chocolate once or twice a day.

The survey – which polled more than 3,500 people – even found that five per cent of us would leave the UK for good if there was ever a complete chocolate ban (that’s the equivalent of 2.7 million people).

A fifth of those taking part in the survey also said they’d be willing to break the law if there was a ban on chocolate or chocolate rationing, and that they would import chocolate illegally or buy it off the black market.

Secret passion

The survey also suggests some of us are so obsessed with chocolate that we eat it in secret or hide it from our loved ones. Two fifths of people admitted to hiding chocolate at home, while more than 40 per cent say they’ve waited until a partner, family member or friend has left the room before tucking in. Almost four in 10 of those questioned say they’ve also hidden the wrappers from their chocolate bars so that their loved ones wouldn’t realise how much they’ve eaten.

Some people, however, have tried to stem their obsession, the survey suggests, with nearly a fifth of those taking part in the survey admitting they’ve tried giving up chocolate at some point.

However denying a sweet tooth may not be that easy, with almost a quarter saying they’d find it easier to give up social media or Netflix than chocolate, and one in 10 believing they’d find it easier to give up seeing their friends.

Dechox tips

If you’re taking part in this year’s Dechox and have cleared your cupboards of all things cocoa-related for the month, here are a few ideas from the BHF of things you could do to help you cope whenever you have a chocolate craving:

  • Drink a glass of water to help fill you up and take your mind off chocolate
  • Go for a walk (it doesn’t have to be a long one)
  • Chew some sugar-free gum (it’s low in calories and helps keep your breath fresh)
  • Have something bitter to curb your sugar cravings (try a glass of water with some freshly squeezed lemon juice)
  • Eat regularly instead of skipping meals
  • Keep plenty of fruit handy for when your cravings hit

Other snacks that you could have instead of a chocolate bar include:

  • One small handful of almonds
  • Three dried apricots
  • 20g plain popcorn
  • 125g fat-free fruit yoghurt pot
  • A slice of wholegrain toast with tomato, basil and olive oil

There are lots more snack ideas and recipes for chocolate-free treats at the BHF’s website. Meanwhile if you haven’t signed up for Dechox it’s not too late – find the information you need here.

Why not also ask your local Careway pharmacist for advice on cutting back on sugary foods or improving your diet in general? Your pharmacist has lots of tips to help you eat more healthily – and you don’t usually need an appointment to speak to them. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.