I can’t stay away from the Halloween candy.  My afternoon cravings for chocolate get the best of me, and it shows on my jiggly belly. I feel so miserable if I don’t get my “fix.” I’m even dipping into the candy stash I bought for trick-or-treaters. Why is my willpower so weak?

That gotta-have-it feeling is due to theobromine, a compound in chocolate that activates the brain’s reward center and triggers a spike in the production of feel-good serotonin. When the body associates these happy feelings with the treat, out-of-control cravings can return day after day in a powerful cycle. For 77 percent of women, these cravings are strongest in the afternoon, when serotonin levels naturally dip. To outsmart the urge, nosh on 1 oz. to 2 oz. of chocolate in the morning. Researchers found that if women ate chocolate when serotonin levels are highest, the addictive quality was lost and they had fewer afternoon cravings. This helped study subjects lose 23 percent of their weight in eight months. Opt for antioxidant-rich dark chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cocoa.  

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