I WAS feeling fed up and my thoughts turned to chocolate. My thoughts nearly always turn to chocolate when feeling fed up.

If not chocolate, something sweet. I won’t be alone and if it’s not something sweet to manage a negative mood, many people will turn to either shopping, drinking, drugs, gambling, sex, or even inexplicably to most people, self-harm.

Something to distract one from accepting uncomfortable feelings and working through them. Compensation or a reward which quickly ‘hits the spot’.

I’ve been writing a magazine article about my reactions when my husband was suddenly taken seriously ill four years ago (happily he is fully recovered).

Leaving the hospital at 10am in a state of shock and my mind all over the place, I craved chocolate and red wine. I could acknowledge that the wine was to ‘fuzzy the edges’ and was unwise, as I had to drive later in the day, but chocolate was an easy solution.

My favoured chocolate is 90% dark chocolate, but that wasn't going to do. I needed something sweeter and more intense and turned to a Twirl bar with ‘an intense chocolate hit’ written on the side. It certainly does that, though it’s probably an intense sugar hit too. Another one and I was feeling better.

Deep down I didn’t really want to eat all that chocolate, I just wanted something to take the uncomfortable emotions away. Twirl bars became my comfort food for a month and even now, when most days I can ignore the blue and yellow packaging, sometimes I give in.

I’ve thought back to the earliest feelings of eating something sweet to make me feel better and up pops childhood experiences. I observe the behaviours still being played out today when I’m out and about. A crying child, a carer and instant gratification to “make it feel better”, usually food based.

Most of us have done that and the message is absorbed at an early age. To make us feel better we need a treat and it’s often something sweet.

Cravings and planning the next ‘hit’ can be symptoms of addictive behaviour. If it’s getting out of control, seek help. Short-term gain, long-term pain.

Rita Leaman is a psychotherapist and writer who lives in North Yorkshire.

As Alison R Russell, she is the author of ‘Are You Chasing Rainbows?’ (chasingrainbows.org.uk). She also writes a blog on emotional health: alisonrussell275.blogspot.co.uk