Great news for chocoholics: it may be better to binge

Have you found yourself returning to a new block of chocolate for “just one more piece”, only to discovered you’ve worked through the whole pack in a single evening?

This news may ease the guilt: in some cases, you could actually be making a more sensible health decision.

Associate Professor Amanda Salis, a senior research fellow from the University of Sydney’s Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders, recently told NineMSN that binge-eating could have some unexpectedly positive effects.

It turns out that the more you eat in a single sitting, the better the chance your body will go into a protective mode, speeding up your metabolism to help you deal with the suddenly larger amount of food. This process, known as adaptive thermogenesis, means you could end up taking on fewer calories than if you spaced out your eating.

“If you have them all in one go you’re more likely to induce that response to protect you from weight gain than if you have a small amount every day”, she said.

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However, this advice is only useful in extreme moderation. If you’re prone to polishing off a full block every week, it may not help. Every month? You might be in luck.

She warns that there are other side effects to consider.

“When you eat large quantities of ultra-processed foods frequently over an extended period, it actually changes your brain”, she says.

“It’s like a drug of addiction in a way — it will change your brain and you will want more and more”.

“If it’s a binge on a large amount of food and you feel out of control, you can be left with shame and guilt… That guilt in itself can lead to further overeating”.

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“It’s important, from a psychological point of view that you feel like you have had a good feed”.

“If one Tim Tam is enough for you to have you feel like a big dose then that’s good. Me, personally, if I had one Tim Tam I would want more. But if I had two or three, I would feel like I’d had a proper dose and could forget about it. So you need to get a dose that works for you”.

Salis likened the process to vaccination.

“When you inoculate yourself against a disease you get injected with a tiny component of the bug that causes that disease and it makes your body strong”.

“It’s the same as ultra processed foods. If you give yourself a little bit regularly and it helps to protect you against that big blow out when you want to eat the whole packet”.

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This advice might not be a free pass to binge on chocolate all the time, but it’s enormously comforting to know our bodies will potentially understand – and hopefully forgive – the occasional Friday night indiscretion.

Want to celebrate? Here are some of our favourite chocolate recipes from the Starts at 60 community:

Are you a chocoholic? Does this make you feel better about your last chocolate binge?