What Happens When Your Body Literally Withdraws From Chocolate

by Gigi Engle

As I stood in line to buy seltzer water, I thought I was having an acid flashback. Every single piece of candy at the check counter at Duane Reade was illuminated, the wrappers obscenely bright. It was like I was Dorothy and this was the technicolor Wizard Of Oz.

I was sweating, shaky and borderline hallucinating. But I wasn't having an acid flashback. I was in withdrawal. Full-on withdrawal.

Let me back up a little bit here.

I have a chocolate addiction. I have a little bit every single day. I went to a fashion party last Tuesday and literally ate 16 (or more) miniature Key Lime pies and brownie bites because I figured, "Hey, they're small. They don't even count." I wish I were f*cking exaggerating, but I ate an average-sized cake's worth of desserts.

I'm no stranger to kicking habits. I like to think that I have an unyielding willpower. I haven't had gluten in a really long time. Hell, I gave up alcohol and didn't give a f*ck. It was easy. I quit smoking, too. Whatever! Bye, cigarettes! I gave up dairy and that kind of sucked, but I did it. It wasn't that bad.

I've given up all the bad sh*t to make my life better and to look better, too. I've lost 13 pounds; it's been great. I feel good.

The one thing I had left, the one vice that still crippled me, was sweets. More specifically: chocolate.

Celine Rahman

How could someone with so much self-control for so many other things be so hopelessly obsessed with sweets?

I just don't have self-control for desserts. I can't really have just one. I used to be adept at limiting myself to just one piece of chocolate, but that was when I was busy guzzling wine. Now that I don't drink, smoke, eat dairy or gluten or do anything remotely fun, my penchant for desserts has soared.

The only things I have left are orgasms and chocolate bars. Can't a girl live?

After the mini-dessert-scarfing-disaster at that fashion party, I lay awake in bed, feeling sick and racked with guilt. I decided I had had enough. I was officially out of control. It was time to reel is the f*ck in and stop gorging myself on sweets the minute they were put in front of me.

I looked at the date on my phone and, like some kind of karmic credence, looked up the date for Lent. It was the next day! I knew it was meant to be. That settled it. For 40 days and 40 nights, I was going to give up chocolate. It was over. This was where I lay down the law. WHAT'S UP, LENT! LET'S ROCK THIS BITCH.

I thought this would be easy. Chocolate doesn't OWN ME, OK? I'd detox from my chocolate addiction and my body would be a clean, pure, entirely sugar-free temple. But boy, was I f*cking wrong.

Is lent supposed to suck this much because I'm ready to cry I want chocolate so badly — GigiEngle (@GigiEngle) February 12, 2016

The first 48 hours weren't too bad. I had my usual inner pangs for chocolate, but I just ignored them. I could do this.

It was the third day where sh*t really started to get whack.

It all started when my co-worker kept talking about f*cking chocolate all day. She just kept bringing it up. She also mentioned that some company was bringing over Valentine's Day treats at 4 pm. I wasn't going to eat the treats because I had given up chocolate, but that didn't stop me from thinking about it.

I kept checking the time. Was it 4:00 yet? Was the chocolate here?

I started getting very aggressive. One of my fellow writers, Zara, even pointed out that I was especially aggressive. My Slack messages to everyone were harsh. I was so clearly on edge.

The truth was, I was going through withdrawal. Sh*t was getting f*cking dark. Fast. I even tweeted this morbid response to the state of my existence.

Nobody dies a virgin. Life fucks us all. — GigiEngle (@GigiEngle) February 14, 2016


And if all this sounds incredibly dramatic, please note that studies have found that chocolate is literally harder to give up than sex or alcohol. 

After I returned from my Duane Reade trip, the one where I started salivating over the candy aisle, I decided to experiment by having a non-chocolate piece of candy, a Jolly Rancher. My symptoms went away almost immediately. All the desperation, anxiety, shakiness were gone.

This actually isn't surprising. Sugar has the same effects on the brain as drugs. In his piece "The Ugly Truth Is That Sugar Is More Dangerous To Americans Than Ebola Ever Could Be," Elite Daily staff writer John found that "sugar is as addictive as cocaine, and it leads to some conditions related to heart disease."

John told me to have some dark chocolate, because it's "good for you."

"JESUS IS WATCHING," I hissed at him.

All in all, the whole not-eating-chocolate thing lasted about four days. On Valentine's Day, I ordered a slice of rainbow cookie cake. There was no mention of chocolate on the menu. When it arrived, it was coated in chocolate. I had some. I told myself it was all right that it didn't count because it was Sunday (?).

Celine Rahman

It dawned on me that I was being ridiculous. I was f*cking miserable. I finally understand why drug addicts relapse so often. Withdrawal is f*cking hell.

I'm a big enough person to admit that I just can't do it. My coworker Sheena (I hate you, Sheena) brought some chocolate to work this morning. I had three four pieces. At 9 am.