THE BLOG
02/11/2011 02:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Valentine Date With Chocolate

Should you buy a box of chocolate for yourself if no one is going to buy it for you?

Several years ago, the diamond industry marketed diamond rings to be worn on the fourth finger of the right hand to women who did not expect to be given one for their left one. The advertisements disappeared, but it was a clever way of expanding the diamond ring market. Perhaps the chocolate makers should do the same. Women could be told to curl up with a box of expensive chocolate or pour themselves a glass of hot fudge topped with a scoop of ice cream. They could be urged to be nice to themselves, because it is Valentine's Day and they deserve a special treat. Unspoken is the subtext: You are alone on a day when you should be with someone.

It is interesting how chocolate has become the surrogate for the extinct boyfriend. Recently my gym showed reruns of "Sex and the City" (the women were watching this while most of the guys were watching a golf tournament). In one episode, Miranda, the red-haired lawyer, announced that she swapped chocolate for sex. She took home several chocolate éclairs that kept her company on the sofa before they were consumed. Subsequently, she baked a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and devoured most of it before dumping the uneaten portion in the trash (which she then fished out and ate).

Most women understand exactly what she was experiencing and, indeed, some recite the mantra "chocolate is better than sex."

No scientific study has done a direct comparison between the two, but one can assume that the former adds calories whereas the latter uses a few up. But why chocolate? No one says "cottage cheese is better than sex," or "I would rather eat grilled asparagus than go out with George Clooney."

Chocolate is unique in its ability to satisfy the taste buds and mouth sensations. Often murmurs of delight escape from a chocolate eater and a look of sheer bliss can be seen as a particularly marvelous confection is tasted and swallowed. What other food can bring about this joy?

But chocolate goes on to satisfy the brain, as well as the mouth. The sugar and butterfat that turn chocolate from a bitter, dry, crunchy food into one that coats the tongue and mouth have a major impact on the way we feel. The sugar causes the brain to make more of the feel-good chemical serotonin. The fat may work on pleasure centers in the brain. Moreover, there is much anecdotal evidence that high-fat foods, like chocolate, exert an anesthetic effect on emotions. A weight-loss client of mine once consumed over a pound of Godiva chocolate when told she was being laid off from a very prestigious and highly-paid job. She told me that after eating the chocolate, she didn't even care about her firing.

So it seems obvious why chocolate is the companion of choice if one is alone on Valentine's Day.

The eater can choose the kind of chocolate to bring home and it doesn't have to be shared. It can be eaten wearing comfortable clothes (preferably with an elasticized waist). The feelings of pleasure and comfort last for hours after the last piece has been swallowed, as the brain pumps out the feeling good chemicals.

So why even bother giving chocolate to someone who has a date on Valentine's Day? That is the real question.