Savvy Therapy

Does Craving Chocolate make you a Psycho?

It’s day three of the coaching programme about food habits.   We can review what we now know about habits.   We know that everything we do is habitual.  That habits are embedded routines and processes in our minds.   Habits are  biopsychosocial in origin: the biology is the physical stress response which releases hormones into the body to support the fight, flight freeze or fawn stress response.

Today we are looking at the psychological aspects of habit formation.  It is the emotional response to the external trigger that goes along with the action of taking food.

We are born with one emotion – fear – all other emotions are learnt and we learn through practice which becomes habit.  Habits take us away from the PAIN of fear, and/or towards PLEASURE.    

What is this to do with food?

Well,  think of the five-year-old we talked about yesterday, she was upset by her parents arguing and crawled the way into the larder to hide (flight). To calm herself she ate cake; she literally stuff down her fear; she sought COMFORT in food.

Another child see the parents arguing, might have gone to the wall and hit their head against the wall continually, while the parents argued (fight).   The parents then stopped and gave him cake as a REWARD.   Every time the parents argued he got cake.  In order to get more cake he started hitting his head against the wall when the parents were not arguing. He developed a ritual about food in order to get the PLEASURE of cake.

A third child may have grabbed the cake from the larder when she saw the parents arguing,  and run to another room and ate the cake (flight).   She gets to ESCAPES from the fear emotion by eating the food.

A fourth child may come home from school and go straight to their room and eat sweets because they fear their parents will argue.   They AVOID  the emotions caused by fear of their parents arguing.

Food habits have strong emotional triggers which are about avoiding the PAIN caused by emotions which are linked to an external trigger.  Food habits are also generated by an URGE for PLEASURE to compensate for the painful emotions.

What does craving chocolate mean?

Craving or an urge to eat particular food it’s linked to an intense emotional trigger.    Something that generated fear was rewarded by chocolate as a child.  When you feel that same fear again you need the chocolate to calm and stuff down the emotional pain.

Doreen Virtue in her book ‘Constant Craving’ discusses craving in detail. She carried out in depth research on women prisoners in America about their food issues.   She  identified three types of food craving related to emotion and I’ll say more about this in a fact sheet.


If the foods you are craving is crunchy the emotions that may be underlying this desire are:

anger, resentment, betrayal, overwhelm, feeling used, bitterness, and irritability.


If the food that you crave is soft and creamy you feel:

fear or shame, anxiety, embarrassment, insecurity, imposter syndrome, feel unworthy or guilty.


If the food you you are craving is chewy then the emotions are a combination of:

fear and shame with anger or tension, jealousy, confusion, dread of the future, and self Loathing.

Virtual gives the example of Rocky Road ice cream which has got crunchy, soft and creamy and chewy textures; and suggest that you need to think through and separate out which of the emotions is the strongest and why.

…and chocolate.  Craving chocolate of any type is broadly about feeling unloved.

This is the start of a few days of discussing the psychological issues of the food habit that you may have.

Here is the video to watch

Here is the fact sheet to read

Best wishes

Sheila Leahy

SnapUpSuccess with Savvy Therapy