A Hershey's Kiss is heated on a spoon with a cigarette lighter


All my cravings remembered

chocolate cravings, cravings, food cravings

(Last updated June 2024.)

Starting in junior high, at the latest, I had constant cravings for chocolate. For the most part, they involved a very particular combo of fat, sugar, and cacao. By the time I found workable treatments for the cravings, I had tried a million things to stop them, with little success. About a dozen are listed below, including a few intriguing temporary successes.

Strangely enough, it wasn’t until my 30s that I started having the kind of carb cravings normal people have — potato chips, pizza, etc. I still do not experience those anywhere near as often.

From chocolate to just plain sugar

In 2022 I was able to stop chocolate-containing foods, but not sugar, pretty easily. The craving for sugar remained. At about the same time, I discovered the chai tea latte, which became my poison of choice.

Finally a clue: Compulsive eating

Finally, in my 50s, in 2023, I learned that these unescapable cravings have a name: compulsive eating. Not one of the five or so doctors or other practitioners I discussed it with over the years (including a hypnotherapist) suggested that possibility, probably because I was not overweight at the time.

The category of compulsive eaters includes bulimics and anorexics, and many others who have it much, much worse than I do. We’re talking people binging on broccoli, or eating until they pass out. Every day. Yikes.

There are a lot of approaches to this, some free, some involving medically trained personnel. Some doctors consider it an allergy. A lot of compulsive eaters call themselves food addicts. The Twelve Step approach is to call it a disease that is a cross between an allergy and an obsession.

Many sufferers relate that not only do the cravings worsen progressively until you die, but that they worsen in the background even after you succeed in achieving neutral thinking about food. That is, if you go for decades without succumbing to the cravings, and then have a relapse, you’ll find they’re worse than ever.

I personally wonder if there is a sub-population in our biome that has its own agenda and has learned how to accomplish that agenda by hijacking our brains. I also like Dr. Joe Dispenza’s idea that “the brain becomes the mind”: once you’ve lived a while with certain emotions and behaviors, which affect biochemicals in the body, that chemical makeup becomes the status quo for the body, which then does whatever it can to maintain that stasis, even to the point of manipulating your mind.

About willpower

To anyone out there wondering why I don’t just “eat a nice fresh apple” whenever the need for chocolate sugar hits me: Go schtup yourself. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Ditto for anyone who dares to talk to me about willpower.

The cravings’ limits

Calories per day

In the name of science, in 2012 or so I performed a self-experiment, repeated twice, wherein I kept eating chocolate until I didn’t want anymore for the rest of the day. That’s how I discovered that my chocolate thing has a 700-calorie-a day limit. I never got around to measuring how many non-chocolate carb calories I ingest before that craving disappears.

Time of day

A weird thing is that only twice in three decades, tops, have I craved the stuff between 4 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. I am not bothered at all during those hours.

The way they just … stop

Another weird thing is that about three times now, the cravings simply turned off. The first time is described below. The second time was a later experiment with the same supplement. The third time was a few days after I’d started using a jaw exerciser that is marketed for reducing TMJ pain and reducing cravings (and other things I can’t remember — building a manly jaw, maybe). I woke up at 5 a.m. and I knew, immediately, it was gone (not just abated during its usual “off” hours). It stayed gone for two days, and then returned.

What worked, temporarily, for chocolate cravings

1. Tryptophan

Julia Ross suggests this for cravings in her book The Mood Cure. My first try with this was all wrong. I didn’t take anywhere near enough, and took it at the wrong time — at night, when I don’t have cravings. Because of that first failure, I didn’t try it again for years. When I discovered that some people take 10,000 mg of tryptophan a day, I took 2,500 mg one morning and in 30 minutes the insane cravings were gone. Five hours later the effect wore off, so I took 2,500 more. Once again, it worked in 30 minutes.

Two days later it wasn’t working as well. For weeks I experimented with different dosages and combinations of cofactors. Tryptophan needs vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium to be able to do its thang. But the same thing kept happening: a new mix would work for a day or so and then stop. Even with those disappointing setbacks, however, the cravings were still significantly reduced for a while.

2. 5HTP (a form of tryptophan)

I took 50 mg a day and the craving was gone in about 18 hours. It was a novel sensation. In mid-step, it simply turned off.

Unfortunately, after a week on the supplement, I developed splitting headaches, turned into a zombie, and blew up like a balloon, which defeats the purpose of quitting chocolate or sugar, if you ask me. Further experiments confirmed that it was a reaction to the 5HTP and not sugar withdrawal or a “die-off” reaction. Julia Ross says that a certain percentage of her patients can’t handle 5-HTP and have to use tryptophan instead.

3. Fixing my hypoglycemia

For me, biotin was the answer. However, other deficiencies can also cause this, so it might not work for you. This just got rid of the absolute worst of the need to eat sugar. This was very early on in my adventures in nutritional therapy. It did not eradicate it. Not even close.

4. Just worked a little for chocolate cravings

What worked for carb cravings

1. Calcium

About a year after I went gluten-free, I started inhaling potato chips constantly. It was bizarre and embarrassing. I’d eat an entire large bag of chips at work every day. Finally I read somewhere that calcium deficiency can cause cravings for salty foods. I started taking maybe 500 mg a day — don’t quote me, but I know it wasn’t an insane amount — and after three weeks, voila! Back to my normal constant-but-at-least-it’s-only-chocolate cravings.

2. Bright light therapy

The first winter after I moved back to the Midwest from Southern California, I stopped sleeping completely, developed severe brain fog, and started eating everything in sight. I ate things I don’t even like — baked goods, cookies, bread, rolls. Luckily I read about bright light therapy and got myself a light box, one of those 10,000 lux fluorescent ones, which back then had a metal frame and looked like someone made it in shop class.

It took about a week to see a difference, but it worked. I’ve been using a light box every winter since, even in Southern California. I even took one to Paris, where it was betrayed and killed by a cheap voltage adapter.

What makes both types of cravings worse

  • Iron supplements
  • Vitamin D, but not sun exposure
  • Iodine supplements, with or without selenium. (They work together.)

What did NOT work for either type

If I tried to write down everything that didn’t work, it would take forever, so I’ve just noted the more common suggestions that you’ll find for this problem and which did not work for me:

Chromium. Magnesium. Ashwaganda. Adrenal support treatment/supplements. Acupuncture. Hypnosis. Allerase enzymes. Increasing protein intake. Eating 700 more calories of normal food a day, on the theory that I was undereating. Copper supplements, on the theory that I needed the copper in chocolate, although that experiment did reveal that I was copper toxic. The anti-fungal herbs oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract, garlic, caprylic acid, and maybe two others, on the theory that candida was causing the cravings. And a gazillion other things.

Abandoned theories

Psychology / stress / addiction

These three would be the most obvious theories, but I got nowhere with them.

I assumed that if there were a psychological aspect to it that it would be as a reward mechanism for a sense of deprivation, for example. But I was rarely interested in any other type of food, and was not in love with the taste of the chocolate I did eat. It is true that anyone who got between me and a pint of Chunky Monkey ice cream, which for a long time was unavailable in my neighborhood, would meet an ugly end, but that was not my usual poison.

The cravings did not seem to worsen as stress increased. From 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., they were simply always on.

On the theory that my chocolate habit was in fact an addiction, for two years in a row I used two weeks of vacation from work to go cold-turkey. I found that I was not in too much discomfort as long as I didn’t do anything requiring brain power or physical energy. I sat quietly and watched DVDs or did light errands. After the return to work, I lasted a week, but once I had to start writing coherently, planning, organizing, balancing my checkbook, etc., I could not function. I could not afford to try that experiment again and be a full-time worker.

Brain glucose thing

After the two-week experiments, I wondered if it was a brain energy thing, that my brain can’t produce enough glucose or use it correctly. That’s what led me eventually to try vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin), both involved in glucose metabolism. They did seem to help a bit, as mentioned above, but nothing miraculous.

Insufficient light exposure

For a while I wondered if insufficient light exposure all year, not just during the winter, was the culprit. I experimented with different exposure times and with different models of light boxes. One is in theory an improvement over the fluorescent and blue light models I’ve tried, and the other works overhead rather than from below. But no luck.

When I moved to Southern California, where I get a much more intense dose of sun most of the year, it did not make much difference. (I do wonder sometimes if corrective lenses affect the quality of light that hits your eyes.)

Fat insufficiency

After reading a post on Mark’s Daily Apple about training your body to burn fat instead of glucose, I realized how little fat I had in my diet at the time and wondered if that was the cause. Growing up I had a very low-fat diet and on top of that, I could barely process what I did get.

I experimented with recipes from the cookbook Practical Paleo, which is big on serving fat with every dish, a lot of it in the form of coconut oil. It was the best cookbook I’d ever found in terms of accommodating all my intolerances — back then, eggs and goitrogens were the hardest to avoid. But no joy.

Gut flora problem

After seeing several articles on the gut flora-obesity-cravings connection, I tried a whole lotta probiotics, but after a month didn’t see a change, although that might not be anywhere near enough time.


The content on this page was first posted in November 2012 and updated in February 2013, April 2023, and June 2024.

11 thoughts on “All my cravings remembered”

  1. Hey! I got my genetic panel done from 23&me and then put the data set through Nutrahacker.com. It was VERY helpful! I really feel for you, all the things you have tried, I too have thousands of days and dollars invested in the “discarded doctors and vitamins box!”I have found the Nutrahacker info to fill in the missing biochemical links so instead of guessing what I need and need to avoid, I am working on when, how much, and in what order! WAY BETTER! I have also found the thyroid connection to be a helpful read: stop the thyroid madness. Sincerely hope this helps you! It’s not easy to have to make your own way, just know THERE IS A REASON and there has to be a solution! Never give up! XO

  2. HI Marjorie.

    I’ve been up and down the genetics/methylation/mthfr route and have found there is so much conflicting info out there, so having said that, it’s my understanding that ‘compound heterozygous’ isn’t nearly as bad as being homozygous. And since all of it is related to genetic ‘expression’ and not — oh, I have these genetic defects so my health is ruined for life’, that sometimes “just” lifestyle changes will be enough.

    RE: SLEEP: One thing I discovered however after about 2 years of experimentation with the methylation supplements is that FOLINIC acid (not folic) really, really helps with sleep. I use Folacal, from Thorne, and take one with dinner, and then empty 1/2 to 1 entire capsule under my tongue about 45 minutes before bed — and I’m sleeping heavier and actually not as sensitive to noise as I used to be either. Methylfolate helps somewhat, but can be stimulating as well, which is definitely not the case with folinic acid.

    On a side note, I thought that iodine/selenium helped your high histamine issues?

    • Thanks for the info on folinic acid and MTHFR. I read the iherb reviews and am considering trying it. (It looks like Thorne is phasing out that product, though.) I am a bit worried about the calcium in it, as I finally figured out that I can’t tolerate the Solgar Metafolin because of the calcium, not because of the methylfolate. Once I started avoiding calcium fillers and ingredients, things got better. My sleep improved somewhat with the methylfolate (Thorne’s), but as soon as I take P5P or methyl B12 or dibencozide, it’s back to 2 hours of sleep a night. Which is annoying because like Commenter Ing, they help with brain function/mood. I have noticed that I can’t take the methylfolate after 6 pm, or I can’t sleep. I also have to take 100 mg of niacin a day or I get headaches every few days.

      Now that I’m several months into the experiment, I see what you mean about not letting the genetic results get me down. As you say, it’s a lot easier to not panic. My thinking now is that all this gluten intolerance/histamine intolerance/methylation/liver/etc wackiness is caused by something else. Apparently all of those things are common in mold-poisoned patients, for example.

      Re: histamine: The iodine got my entire body load down so that I could feel what it’s like to be almost normal and not spacy all the time. However, there is still room for improvement, and my experiments with some of The Low-Histamine Chef’s suggestions have been very helpful. Her anti-histamine green juice recipe cleared up my sinuses completely (I guess — I don’t know what normal is, really) for the first time ever and improved my concentration so that I can read for long periods again, but only if I avoid most high-histamine foods. My cravings remain unaffected.

      The methylfolate helped the cravings somewhat, and I think molybdenum at 2000 mcg has also. Either by helping methylation by processing sulphur, or by reducing the aldehydes? acetylaldehydes? can’t remember… brought on by candida.

      Thanks again for the comment. I’ve found that the best info comes from discussion forums and other anecdotal sources of people going through all this. I don’t know where I’d be without it.

  3. I love your site and wish you were still posting your experiments because I have so many similar reactions to supplements and same cravings and sleep issues.
    Did you ever solve your chocolate craving?
    I totaled my chocoalte cravings to 500-800 calories per day- I hate it and its expensive. Two things have helped ..
    1.tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar before bed (oddly only Braggs brand works for me) – after taking the ACV the night beforf in the morning when I try to eat chocolate it just doesnt taste good, doesnt have any appeal or good feelings attached to consuming it. I can just do without and forget about it. But there is a catch..if I do continue to eat the chocolate day after day (even though I have no craving) the apple cider vinegar eventually doesnt work any more.
    2. methylfolate. Not sure it reduces the craving directly but it gets me into a deep sleep that restores my brain function so that I am not ‘needing’ the chocolate to think straight.

    • Thank you! I have about 6 posts half-written but I just can’t get organized/motivated enough to finish them.

      Never solved the chocolate cravings entirely. A lot of B6/P5P seems to help –about 90 mg. I also tried Mg again, in much larger doses than I’d tried in the past, after I read in The Magnesium Miracle that it takes a lot more Mg to replete a severe deficiency than experts think. I did that a month and didn’t notice a difference. Might not have tried it long enough, but the side effects got to me……..I will try your ACV-at-night approach. I just ended my second attempt at the alkaline diet — here’s the post about the first one — but I was using a lot more than that, and never at night, and the side effects were too much. It’s so gross waking up and wanting to eat chocolate…….Methylfolate never helped my cravings but I’m intrigued that you see a connection between deep sleep and (lack of cravings). I definitely do not have deep sleep…….. Thank you for the info.

    • Since activated b6 seems to help you-have you been tested for MTHFR mutation? (some 40% of population have the mutation)? (Im sure you’ve already considered methylation issues; just checking).

      I’ve been reseaching MTHFR for about a month non stop and experiementing with the supplements recommended to get the methylation system back up and running.

      I started with methylfolate and the first day my mood and sleep were mildly improved. Next day I knew I was on to something.

      I tried three different types of methylfolate before finding one that worked for me and for the first time in 12 years I finally feel like Im getting restorative sleep. (trying not to get to excited- after taking methyl folate I can seriously say I have not slept in 12 years until now)

      I started out with 400 mcgs and now am up to 3grams. Supposed to add in methylB12 and activated B6 next but every time I try them I dream so much and so vividly it keeps me from the deep restoratve sleep.

      But methyl-b12 taken the same day as methylfolate makes my mood PERFECT- Im motivated, forward thinking, happy, carefree, easy going..its really amazing, considering how Ive been living for so long.
      Im going to continue to increase my folate and try the methyl b12 and b6 every so often.

      Other things that have been so much better and improving with methylfolate -skin, dandruff, memory, hypoglycemia, peeling lips, calcium and magneisum retention (only need half as much as I normally do), perfect stools (used to have symptoms of IBS for 12yrs too)

      I plan to get tested for MTHFR soon, I know based on my reactions to the supplements that I have issues with methylation for sure and past labs have revealed some tell tale signs…like my serum levels of b12, folate and B6 have all been over the limit high even though I never took/take b-vitamins ( supplements with b-vits have always cause my insomnia to be unbearable so I avoided them like the plague).

      High labs-when you have problems with methylation folate, b12, b6 vitamins build up in the blood due to lack of the enzyme to process them. Also my alkaline phophatase level was always low too (sign of low folate).

      Im curious how much methylfolate you took and what brand? Did you avoid supplements with folic acid while you were taking it?

      Looking forward to your new posts and to hear about what you’ve been experiementing with!!

    • I understand completely the fear of the jinx re: sleep. 🙂

      I finally actually googled my MTHFR test results I got last month, instead of relying on the Clinic’s interpretation. It turns out that “compound heterozygous” is bad, according to mthfr.net. It looks like a whole ‘nother round of research is needed, but I just don’t have the energy. I’m at 2 hrs sleep/night now, for 6 years.

      I’ve only used Solgar’s Metafolin, in a big range of doses. It improved mental clarity, fingernails, and restless legs. (I did avoid folic acid at the same time.) I don’t think I ever used it at the same time as P5P, which gave me the results that methylfolate has done for you. P5P also dragged my sleep back from 0 hours a night to 2 hours a few years ago. Maybe the big doses of folate just wiped out the B6, which caused the high-histamine/zombieness. Unfortunately, methyfolate and P5P suppress my breathing now….that histamine connection you mentioned elsewhere maybe.

      The only B12 methyl I can use now is Natural Factors, which doesn’t have any flavoring. I also have dibencoizoid B12 or whatever it’s called around here somewhere. A B12 experimenter I ran across says the different B12s do different things, but I haven’t gotten around to trying it yet. (That would be “Freddd,” in case you’ve encountered him in the discussion forums.)

      My questions for you are:
      1. It sounds like you found that some folate brands don’t actually work at all for you?
      2. Can you recommend a site(s) with MTHFR protocol info?

    • Wow your symptoms and sleep issues sound so similar to my own. Im so sorry you are in a bad place with energy right now, I’ve been there and know what that is like.

      Can I get your email (or write me at mine) Maybe it would help if I can share more details of my experiences/experiments. Ive tried all the supplements you have over the past 12 years (and so many more-many times over) and just seemed to go round and round; the methylfolate seems to be key for me in explaining all of my strange ups and downs with supplements and various tyeps of diet.

      Bless You!!

    • Forgot to say that I’m also trying to figure out if histamine intolerance has something to do with the craving. So far no luck.

    • Im not up on histamine intolerance (yet) but I have been running into that term a lot when I read about it happening to people who start taking high dose supplements for MTHFR. (folate, b12, b6).

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