Chocolate is undeniably tasty, and it’s only natural to want to indulge from time to time. If you’re watching your waistline or you need to cut back on chocolate because of a medical condition, though, then you’ll want to make sure that you indulge in moderation.
However, turning down chocolates lying around in the break room at work or having the willpower to keep chocolate in the house for a special occasion can be pretty difficult. Even if you know that you already had chocolate earlier in the day so you should skip it at night, actually walking away from the chocolate when it’s presented to you isn’t that easy.
Causes for Cravings
There are many factors that can cause cravings. For women, cravings can occur right before their period. It’s thought that this is brought on by the hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle. When progesterone and estrogen levels fluctuate, so do hunger levels.
Additionally, hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can increase cortisol— the stress hormone—levels. And when stress levels are high, it’s natural to crave sugary foods because they have been shown to cheer people up.1
Some women binge on donuts when their period is on the way. Others eat food high in carbohydrates like pizza or pasta, but many crave chocolate specifically. Indeed, recent research shows that 50 percent of American women crave chocolate around the onset of their period. Those born outside of the United States, however, are less likely to crave chocolate.
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This had led researchers to question whether cravings are partially cultural. The desire for “something sweet” may be biological, but the desire for that sweet thing to be specifically chocolate could be learned.2
Other causes of cravings for all individuals include high-stress levels, inadequate water intake, insufficient sleep, low protein consumption, or other long-term habits that reinforce cravings.3
Curbing Cravings with Aromatherapy
Learned or not, it would be nice to get cravings under control. This is particularly true if you’re trying to lose weight. Weight loss, at its core, is simply about consuming fewer calories over time than you burn. If you were able to curb cravings, then this would be easier to accomplish.
It’s perfectly possible to enjoy eating treats and having some flexibility in lifestyle while losing weight if you practice portion control and you keep your cravings in check. If you make good food choices most of the time—eating a high protein, healthy breakfast, eating plenty of lean protein and fresh vegetables for lunch, and limiting mindless snacking, then you’ll have calories left for dessert from time to time.
Though eating nutritious meals and establishing an exercise routine might be relatively simple to add into a daily routine with time, it’s the mindless snacking part that is hard to beat. That’s where strategies for curbing those cravings come in, aromatherapy being one of them.
One study conducted in 2012 looked at the effects of different smells on controlling cravings. Researchers found that out of the smells tested (jasmine, water, and green apple), Jasmine was the most effective, significantly reducing chocolate cravings.4
Though it’s not entirely clear how this works, it is thought that the brain has only a limited amount of resources to dedicate to cravings. When something else takes up that mental space, then the body stops craving the foods it was initially thinking about.
Additionally, there have been other studies that have examined the way that olfactory stimulation helps to reduce food cravings.5 It’s clear that if you want to give yourself a helping hand to clean up your diet, then adding aromatherapy to your daily routine could be beneficial.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight or just start making better food choices in general, cutting down on chocolate and sweet treats make sense. Though you don’t have to cut them out in entirely and indulging in a once in a while can actually be of benefit, cutting back on sweets can be great for teeth, complexion, energy levels, and waistline.
Try using jasmine essential oil topically after diluting it with a carrier oil like almond, coconut, or jojoba oil or aromatically in a room diffuser or personal aromatherapy diffusers like Relieve or Sexy MONQ. All of these methods could help boost the willpower it takes to keep working instead of heading to the vending machine or to ditch the slice of cake for a piece of fruit.