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Can You Eat Chocolate When You Have Crohn's?

by
author image Peter Mitchell
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.
Can You Eat Chocolate When You Have Crohn's?
A chocolate dessert on a plate. Photo Credit DAJ/amana images/Getty Images

Chocolate presents a problem for most people with Crohn's disease. However, with Chrohn's disease, some people react more strongly to certain foods, while others can eat them without any side-effects. That means that you may be able to eat small amounts of chocolate with few ill effects. But as a guideline, avoid chocolate unless you're certain that it doesn't trigger your Crohn's symptoms. Always discuss your diet with your doctor before making any changes.

Irritation

Crohn's disease causes severe inflammation of the bowel. As of May 2011, there is no available cure for Crohn's disease. As a chronic illness, people with Crohn's must manage their condition as best they can. That means avoiding foods that might irritate the lining of their bowels. For many people, chocolate comes under the list of foods to avoid. If you have Crohn's and are in any doubt about whether chocolate brings on your symptoms, avoid it altogether.

Caffeine

Most chocolate contains cocoa beans. These beans contain caffeine. According to MayoClinic.com, foods rich in caffeine often cause problems for people with Crohn's disease. An ounce of milk chocolate could contain up to 15 mg of caffeine, and dark chocolate, up to 35 mg. Although this isn't a lot of caffeine compared to the average cup of instant coffee, people with Crohn's may be highly sensitive to even the smallest amount of caffeine.

Fats and Dairy

People with Crohn's share many of the same symptoms as those with irritable bowel disease or people who are lactose intolerant. That means that dairy products can trigger Crohn's symptoms as the bowel struggles to digest the substance lactose. Milk chocolate, as the name suggests, contains dairy in the form of milk solids. Chocolate also contains fat -- another substance than can cause problems for Crohn's sufferers in high doses. For those reasons, you should steer clear of chocolate if you have Crohn's disease.

Considerations

White chocolate generally doesn't contain any caffeine. However, the milkiness and fat content could still cause a problem with some Crohn's sufferers. Some people with Crohn's find that the condition subsides for months or even years at a time. However, it may flare up unexpectedly. That means that chocolate may not pose a problem one day, but could create an adverse reaction the next. Overall, it's better to play safe and avoid chocolate altogether.

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