Is there such a thing as a chocolate hangover?

Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne

So here we are at a key point in the year and one that involves copious amounts of chocolate – what is not to love about that? I have to say that I may well have overindulged as I am having nightmares about drowning in a sea of mini eggs and I believe I may have suffered from the first ever chocolate hangover – it wasn’t pretty.

Thanks to Mr Fry producing the first chocolate Easter Egg in the UK in 1873 we see them on the shelves from 1st January and then the week before Easter we remember that we need to buy them for friends and family at which point all the good ones have gone and there are just Toffee Crisp and Power Rangers ones left. (There is definitely a comparable analogy about men in there somewhere but I’m going to let it go).

So given the chocolate hangover situation I felt duty bound to do a bit of research – so please bear with me.

People claim that chocolate has a variety of effects on them; that it’s addictive, it perks them up or in some cases it gives them headaches. To understand that we need to know how it works. Well, it’s all to do with brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which charge around the brain telling the body what to do (like Dr Who and whoever his latest sidekick is). They have an impact on our emotions, mood, thought patterns, energy and concentration. (The neurotransmitters, not Dr Who).

There is a big connection to chocolate coming up so please pay attention. Chocolate triggers certain neurotransmitters such as emotions one of which is euphoria.

Here’s another link. Cocoa mass comes from cacao beans which are a super food containing over 300 compounds including : protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant associated with feelings of calmness.

OK, so far we have euphoria and calmness. Let’s investigate a little further. WARNING there are some long words coming up – do not be afraid and do not evacuate the building.

In addition, cacao also contains the chemicals phenylethylamine (PEA)- got to love that abbreviation and anandamide (not big enough to have an abbreviation apparently). PEA is an adrenal-related chemical that we create naturally when we’re excited. It also plays a role in feeling focused and alert because it causes your pulse rate to quicken, resulting in a similar feeling to when we are excited or fall in love!

To recap – Chocolate provides feelings of euphoria, calmness, excitement and love. So as a writer it is, quite frankly, a writing essential as you need to be able to access those feelings with ease and what better way to do it than via the miracle of chocolate? And if that wasn’t enough, it tastes amazing and is also derived from a bean, which is a vegetable so there’s one of your five a day right there!

WARNING – There are potential side-effects. Apparently it is possible to have too much cacao in one go which can overstimulate your central nervous system, as well as your heart and your brain. The effect of this is that you are hyper one minute and then drowsy the next.

So in conclusion if you want something that will give you all this and you don’t mind a nap afterwards, then chocolate is the snack for you. I think I might be able to squeeze in just one more mini egg.

 

Bella has just finished her first novel, Acting on Impulse, which earned her a runner-up place for the New Talent Award at the 2013 Festival of Romance. Every fortnight, Bella will be sharing her experiences and advice as a new author. She also has her own blog which you can visit by clicking here.

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Bella Osborne
Bella’s first novel, It Started at Sunset Cottage was released by Harper Impulse. She was a runner-up for the New Talent Award at the 2013 Festival of Romance and a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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