Chocolate and Back Pain

by James Wallace Harris, Monday, March 18, 2019

I doubt many people will associate chocolate with back pain, but I’ve experienced a connection. I’ve been dealing with spinal stenosis for many years and I’ve learned how to control it with diet and exercise because pills that fight pain and inflammation bother my stomach. I’ve learned that food can cause inflammation. I hate this idea because it’s all my favorite foods that indirectly add to my back pain. Inflammation causes the stiffness and numbness which leads to pain. Most people learn to relax back pain with an anti-inflammation pill, but if you pay attention, avoiding certain foods also has an anti-inflammation effect.

I was doing great this year. I’ve been on 16:8 intermittent fasting since 9/21/18, and off junk food since 1/1/19. About ten days ago I started experimenting with a few minor treats. However, one thing led to another and I fell off the wagon, binging on chocolate for two days. What stopped me was stomach pains. As I’ve gotten older, my stomach has gotten wimpier. Not only had I gotten my back almost pain free and a good deal more limber, but also stabilized my stomach into its quiet state. Going off my diet quickly let me know that value of eating healthy.

I don’t know why, but in recent years my stomach has become extra sensitive to two of my most loved foods: peanut butter and chocolate. When my stomach started hurting I immediately quit my chocolate binge. That’s when I realized that my back had taken quite a setback, proving how much diet contributes to inflammation. I was back to walking hunched over with a slight limp. Just last week I commented to myself that I was feeling much sprier in ages.

When I feel good, I become weak to temptation.

Needless to say, I’m back on my diet. I keep thinking what I eat shouldn’t affect inflammation that much, but it does. I created the above headline to sound absurd hoping to entice people to read this essay. However, I searched on this title and lo and behold, other people are writing about chocolate and back pain too.

I hate having to give up everything I love to eat. But I feel like Pavlov’s dog. Certain foods now come with a kick in the gut or whack to the back. The trouble is I can only remember my conditioning for so long before temptation strikes again. I’m hoping I can remember the miserable stomach pains I felt Saturday and the back pains from yesterday.

JWH

 

 

14 thoughts on “Chocolate and Back Pain”

  1. I hear you. I’ve read about dietary reactions to food, but most of mine are self-induced. For example, I rarely eat fried food, so now my stomach has forgotten how to digest it. I’ve also lost most of my interest in sweets—including chocolate which now works well as a laxative. Weight control is important. My problem is rewarding myself for some small achievement by indulging. The achievement can be very small … like not having indulged for a few days.

  2. I don’t have back problems, but I do have some swelling in my left hand. I went to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hands. He X-rayed my hand and showed me that I had arthritis and some bone chips floating around in my left hand. He recommended a cortisone shot. I agreed and minutes later I received my shot. The next day, I noticed the swelling in my hand went down. In a week, my left hand looked a lot like my trouble-free right hand. And, no more pain! I know cortisone wears off, but in the meantime I’m eating chocolate and peanut M&Ms!

    1. I’ve had cortisone shots. I had a terrible skin reaction to them. My body is weird. I wish I could just take the shots and pain pills and eat peanut butter and chocolate.

  3. Sorry to hear that, Jim. I had a bunch of cortisone shots over the years when my knees were getting progressively worse. They would work for awhile, and then wear off. I graduated to Synvisc shots–which worked for awhile and then didn’t. Finally, I got two new titanium knees so I’m pain-free there. But, I have numerous aches and pains elsewhere. Getting Old sucks.

  4. The fact they’re your most loved foods might be why you can’t handle them, you may have developed a food allergy to each of them. Which happens when someone eats a certain food all the time. It also might be the caffeine in the chocolate.

  5. I’m a nutritionist, often it’s the type of sugar in the chocolate that causes inflammation, corn syrup is in most chocolate because it is cheap. Soy is also a problem. Also cheap and often put in chocolate to make it smooth, very inflammatory. Before you think you cannot enjoy chocolate again, consider a very clean organic chocolate with only organic cane sugar added. Chocolate does have tannins and theobromide which some people are sensitive too. But cheap corn syrup and soy bothers just about everyone. XO

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