The average American consumes more than 5 pounds of chocolate each year, according to the International Cocoa Organization. Whether you view it as a good source of antioxidants or simply enjoy the indulgence, including chocolate in your diet isn’t likely to make you constipated unless you have another condition such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Most healthy adults can maintain bowel regularity by sticking with a fiber-rich diet, drinking plenty of fluids, staying moderately active and managing stress levels. Any low-fiber food -- especially if it’s also high in fat, like chocolate -- may leave you feeling a bit stopped up, but it won’t likely cause full-blown constipation if you also get plenty of fiber in your diet.
IBS and Chocolate
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse estimates that as much as 20 percent of adults may be affected by irritable bowel syndrome. This gastrointestinal disorder is characterized by abdominal discomfort and changes in bowel function, often in the form of constipation. Some people with IBS experience symptoms after eating “trigger” foods, one of which is chocolate. A study published in the “European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology” in 2005 found that people with IBS reported harder stools or constipation after eating chocolate more often than those with normal bowel function. If you think chocolate is making you constipated, eliminate it from your diet to see if your symptoms improve.
- International Cocoa Organization: The World Cocoa Economy – Past and Present, 26 July 2012
- Cleveland Clinic: Digestive Disease Institute Overview – Constipation
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- NHS Choices: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Causes
- European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: The Perceived Effect of Various Foods and Beverages on Stool Consistency