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Alcoholism: What You Need to Know

Alcoholism: What You Need to Know | Dr. Ali Ghahary

When it comes to alcohol, there are four different classifications of drinkers:

An Abstainer: Someone who doesn’t drink or rarely drinks at all.
Social Drinker: Someone who drinks small amounts in social settings (i.e. when out with friends, celebrating a birthday, etc.) but knows when to set boundaries and when they’ve had enough.
Binger: When someone drinks to excess (usually 4 or more drinks in one setting.)
Dependent: Someone who consumes large amounts of alcohol and relies on alcohol.

There are also five different classifications of alcoholics:

Young Adult: Approximate 32% of alcoholics fall into this category, with the average age being anywhere from 20 to 24. Many young adults often deny they have any type of drinking problem and say they’re simply “having fun.”
Young Antisocial: This is considered the second largest alcoholics subtype, with an average age of 26 and even earlier onset of alcoholism – as young as 18. They’re at an increased risk of developing other dependencies, such as tobacco, and more than 50 percent are diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder.
Functional: Many functional alcoholics are heavy drinkers (5 or more per day.) However, they’re also still able to maintain relationships, jobs, and carry out other day to day activities.
Intermediate Familial: This is someone who not only struggles with alcoholism, but also has many family members who’ve gone through that very same struggle or are in an environment where those around them are heavy drinkers.
Chronic Severe: This is the rarest subtype, with only 9% of individuals falling into this category, but also the most severe. It affects more men than women, and is also often linked to illicit drug use or vice versa.

Just like depression, cancer, or other health conditions, alcoholism is a disease. As it develops, one may begin to crave alcohol, have an inability to drop drinking once they’ve started, become physically dependent to alcohol, or develop a tolerance to alcohol which requires them feeling as though they need to increase their alcohol consumption.

Alcohol has many different effects on the brain and body. It can alter your mood, cause depression, reduce self-consciousness, impair judgement, and cause blackouts. It can also impact the liver, and even lead to weight gain. Even when one isn’t addicted to alcohol, bad things can still happen. Car accidents, for example, are commonly linked to alcohol. While you might feel “normal” after having a few drinks, getting behind the wheel and driving after consuming alcohol is not only a bad decision, but also illegal, and your life could change in an instant.

If you or someone you know suffers from alcoholism, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, says it’s crucial to reach out for help. For additional information on alcoholism and substance abuse, visit the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction at CCDUS.ca. Other resources are also available via HealthLink BC.

Functional Neurological Disorders

Functional Neurological Disorders | Dr. Ali Ghahary

A functional neurological disorder (FND) is an umbrella term that is used to describe a variety of neurological symptoms. Structurally, the brain of a patient with a functional neurological disorder may appear to be normal. However, it functions incorrectly, making the brain unable to send and receive signals properly.

Common symptoms associated with functional neurological disorders include bladder and bowel changes, gait and balance problems, headaches and migraines, paralysis and weakness, visual changes, speech problems, sleep disturbances, involuntary movements, seizures, cognitive changes, sensory changes, and chronic pain. Below is a more in-depth look at some of these symptoms.

Bladder and Bowel Changes
Overactive bladder is something that individuals with a functional neurological disorder may experience. This is because several systems work together to control the bladder, including the muscle. Nerves carry signals from the brain to tell the bladder when it’s full and when we need to urinate. However, if the brain is not receiving signals properly, the signals from the brain to the bladder can be impacted. This can result in a more urgent need to urinate, feeling as though you have to urinate even if you’ve just used the restroom, waking up to urinate throughout the evening, bedwetting, and leaking urine. The good news is urinary incontinence can be treated, and while it may be embarrassing it isn’t something you should be ashamed to bring up to a trusted healthcare professional, such as a family physician like Dr. Ali Ghahary.

Gait and Balance Problems
Gait is a term used to describe the manner in which someone walks. As sensory signals from the muscles to the brain can be disrupted, one may develop foot dragging or stiffness. Someone with gait/balance problems are more susceptible to injury as a result of stumbling or falling. To learn different methods of dealing with these issues, patients will benefit from seeing both physical and occupational therapists. Staying physically active can also help to maintain muscle strength.

Headaches and Migraines
Individuals with a functional neurological disorder may experience chronic daily migraines or headaches. In order to fit the criteria of chronic daily migraines/headaches, the patient must experience a migraine or a headache for 15 days (or more) each month. Chronic headaches and migraines cannot be cured, but can be treated with things like medication, physical therapy, psychotherapy, biofeedback, relaxation techniques, acupuncture, and even dietary changes.

Paralysis and Weakness
Due to the nervous system not working properly, FND-diagnosed individuals may experience functional weakness – also known as dissociative motor disorder. Symptoms are similar to those of multiple sclerosis. However, unlike MS, functional weakness poses no risk of permanent damage. Examples include heaviness down one side of the body and abnormal feelings of the limbs. You may also drop things more frequently.

Visual Changes
Double vision, also known as diplopia is a common symptom in individuals with a functional neurological disorder, and it may be accompanied by things like difficulty reading, nausea, headaches, dry eyes and bloodshot eyes. You may also see what appears to be halos around lights. In addition to diplopia, patients may also experience a condition known a photophobia, which is sensitivity or the inability to tolerate light, causing the need to quint or close the eyes. Similar to diplopia, photophobia can also cause headache or nausea, and may even trigger seizures.

For more information about functional neurological disorders, visit:
FNDhope.org

Common Causes of Body Aches and Pains

Common Causes of Body Aches and Pains | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Body aches and pains are something we’ve all experienced, and there are a number of different factors – many of them medical – that can play a contributing role. Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, breaks down the most common causes of body aches and pains and what you can do in order to find relief.

Influenza

The flu is one of the most common causes – if not the most common cause – of body aches and pains and general feelings of malaise, with white blood cells being the culprit. Typically, our white blood cells are responsible for rebuilding and repairing muscle fibres that get damaged from day to day activities. However, when you have the flu or any type of respiratory related infection, those white blood cells also tend to produce a chemical known as cytokines, and this chemical results in those sore, achy bones and joints that you feel when you have the flu. The good news is it’s only temporary. Once your flu has subsided, so will those body aches and pains. In the meantime, if you’re still fighting the flu, taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen may not only help reduce the level of pain you’re feeling, but can also reduce your fever and help you get a better night’s rest – and, as we all know, it’s important not to overexert yourself when you’re fighting a virus. Doing too much too soon may result in your symptoms either worsening, or you may even develop back to back illnesses.

Stress

Unbeknownst to many, stress can negatively impact your body in a number of different ways – both outwardly and inwardly. For example, when you experience stress, you may find it more difficult to fight off things like the common cold, influenza, or other illnesses. When stressed, your body is also unable to control how it responds to inflammation, which means you’re not only more susceptible to inflammation, but also more likely to feel aches and pains. If you are stressed you might have a high heart rate, high blood pressure, frequent headaches, hot flashes or cold sweats, and you may also hyperventilate. There are many different reasons why an individual might be feeling stressed, and in order to reduce things like body aches and pains and some of the other aforementioned symptoms, Dr. Ali Ghahary says it’s important to be able to identify what triggers that stress to begin with.

Dehydration

Dr. Ali Ghahary has previously written about the importance of drinking water. Water is essential to the normal and healthy functioning of your body. Without it, you will become dehydrated which can result in physical pain (such as body aches and pains.) Signs of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, feeling disoriented, headaches, and extreme thirst. Darker urine is also often associated with dehydration. To avoid this and other health problems from occurring, it’s recommended that you drink at least 6 to 8 250ml glasses of water each day

Insomnia

In order for your body’s tissues and cells to stay healthy, you need to get proper sleep. Without it, you can run into all sorts of problems including body aches, as well as memory problems such as the inability to concentrate and retain information. To prevent these issues from arising, you need to ensure you have a consistent sleep schedule each night. Different techniques that Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends trying before you go to bed include drinking hot tea (chamomile, for example, has been long used as a natural sleep remedy), meditation, and no electronic use at least 2 hours before bed – including televisions, computers and smartphones.

If you’ve tried all of the above tips and are still experiencing severe body aches and pains, this could be an indicator of another underlying condition – such as arthritis – and you should see your family physician to discuss as soon as possible.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Parkinson's Awareness Month | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects over 100,000 Canadians to date, with over 6,000 Canadians being diagnosed each year. The average age of onset for Parkinson’s disease is 60, some can be diagnosed at the age of 40 – and in rare cases, even younger. This is known as early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

Famously named after James Parker, who published an essay om the disease in 1918, Parkinson’s disease develops when the cells that produce the chemical known as dopamine die. Dopamine acts as a messenger that tells your brain when you want to move part of your body. However, when these cells die, your dopamine levels drop, making you unable to control your movements and you begin to develop symptoms relating to Parkinson’s including body tremors, slowness and stiffness, muscle rigidity, and impaired balance. Other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease may also include fatigue, soft or slurred speech, stooped posture, difficulty handwriting, constipation. Non-motor symptoms may also develop such as depression, trouble swallowing, and cognitive changes such as dementia. It’s also not uncommon for individuals with Parkinson’s to develop depression and anxiety as a result of the diagnosis. While the exact cause of Parkinson’s is not known, it is suspected that it is due to both genetic and environmental factors.

There are typically 5 different stages to Parkinson’s disease. During stage 1, symptoms may be mild and not interfere with one’s quality of life. During stage 2, daily functioning and activities may become more difficult as symptoms worsen. During stage 3, individuals may notice that they are moving more slowly, losing balance more easily, and have frequent falls. During stage 4, symptoms become severe and the individual may need assistance performing daily activities, including walking. Finally, during stage 5, which is considered the most advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease and when the diagnosed individual will need full-time assistance. All of that being said, Parkinson’s disease will affect each individual differently and it can progress at different rates.

As there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, the main goal is to reduce the symptoms associated with it which can be done by prescribing medications. Many of the medications used work on the chemistry of the brain and can, quite dramatically, improve these symptoms – though as the disease progresses the medication prescribed can lose its effectiveness. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, patients with Parkinson’s disease may also benefit from occupational therapy to help with everyday activities, physical therapy to help with balance, mobility and flexibility, as well as speech therapy. It’s also important to have a good support system of medical professionals to help you manage your disease. A neurologist, for example, specializes in these and other neurological-related disorders and will be able to not only diagnose Parkinson’s disease, but monitor patients with Parkinson’s and determine a treatment plan, while family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary will provide ongoing general care to patients including annual exams. Other members of a patient’s health care team may include a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker and dietitian.

April is Daffodil Month

April is Daffodil Month | Dr. Ali Ghahary

On average, an estimated 565 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer each day. That’s over 16,000 Canadians each month, and an estimated 192,000 each year. In the next 15 years, those numbers are expected to jump by at least 15%.

To continue to raise awareness and support the fight against cancer, the Canadian Cancer Society recognizes the month of April as Daffodil Month – a campaign that marked its 60th anniversary last year. Why the daffodil? Because it’s a symbol of strength and courage. As part of Daffodil Month, there are many different ways in which Canadians can lend their support. Not only can you donate to the Canadian Cancer Society directly, but you can also purchase a daffodil pin at any of the following retail locations across British Columbia:

• Pharmasave
• Starbucks
• Denny’s
• Kin’s Farm Market
• Waves Coffee House
• Nester’s Market
• Donald’s Market

Note: Pins will be available until April 30th.
Participating retailers may also vary from Province to Province.

In addition to wearing a daffodil, BC residents can also take part in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Dash. The Daffodil Dash is a run to raise funds for cancer research and prevention. Whether you run solo or participate as a group with friends and family, it’s a great (and healthy) way to support those living with cancer as well as a great way to give back to the community and support the Canadian Cancer Society’s continued efforts.

The Daffodil Dash takes place on April 29th and will be happening in various regions across British Columbia, including:

Vancouver
Tri-Cities
North Shore
Kitimat
Smithers

Another way you can support Daffodil month is by purchasing freshly cut daffodils. Just like the sales of all daffodil pins, money raised through all flower sales will go towards life-saving research, information, and support services. If you have any questions or would like to order daffodils, e-mail daffodilsbcy@bc.cancer.ca or call (604) 675-7355.

If you or someone you know has received the devastating diagnosis of cancer, remember you are not alone. There are many support options available and many ready and willing to listen and help you. For a list of the different types of support services available, visit cancer.ca.

Basic (But Important!) Health Tips

Basic (But Important!) Health Tips | Dr. Ali Ghahary

With World Health Day taking place on April 7th, now is a good time to remind everyone the importance of taking care of their overall health. Below you will find some basic guidelines from family physician Dr. Ali Ghahary. By following these guidelines, you will not only improve your health, but have a much better quality of life.

Go for Annual Exams

In order to make sure your health is in check, you need to go for annual exams with your family physician. He or she will be able to run a series of in-office tests, as well as refer you for basic blood-work to check for things like high cholesterol and thyroid disease, in addition to referring you for medical imaging tests if necessary. If you do not have a family physician but would like to find one, you can contact HealthLink BC by dialing 8-1-1. While Dr. Ali Ghahary isn’t accepting new patients at this time, he is more than happy to see patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic. You can find Dr. Ghahary’s walk-in schedule by clicking here.

Have a Healthy Diet

Regardless of age or gender, everyone should have a healthy, well-balanced diet. This means include more fruits and vegetables in your diet as well as lean meats, while cutting out things like sugar, saturated fat, and foods that are processed – meaning no fast food! For individuals looking to lose weight, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends trying a low-carb diet – such as the Paleo diet or South Beach diet. Both these diets are not only healthy, but they’re also easier to follow than you might think.

It’s also important that you eat three meals a day and don’t skip meals, with breakfast being the most important one. Breakfast not only helps fuel you for the day ahead, but it also promotes weight maintenance and weight loss, metabolism, and can even improve blood glucose levels.

Don’t forget you should also include water in your diet! Drinking water is a key component to your health and it helps keep nutrients flowing in your body. If you don’t drink enough water, you may suffer from dehydration which includes symptoms like dry mouth, fatigue and dizziness. Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water each day…minimum.

Exercise

Oftentimes people think that exercise is something that’s only tied to weight loss; however, that’s not the case. While it certainly does promote weight loss and weight maintenance, there are so many other benefits that come along with getting regular physical activity. It can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, decrease high blood pressure, improve mobility, as well as improve the mood – and it doesn’t take a lot of exercise or anything strenuous to reap these benefits. Walking for as little as 30 minutes each day can have significant improvements on your overall health, and your body will thank you for it in the long-run. Click here for help on finding an exercise regimen that is best suited for you.

Don’t forget you can follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Instagram and Twitter for more great health tips!

Fruits and Vegetables: Good vs. Bad

Growing up we were always told to eat our fruits and vegetables if we wanted to keep healthy – and while that still rings true today, there are some fruits and veggies that are considered less nutritious than others. Below you will find a list of some of the fruits and vegetables you should avoid, as well as healthier alternatives that Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends.

Vegetables…

Potato
While potato is considered a vegetable, it’s also a starch and doesn’t really pack the nutritional punch our bodies require. While research has suggested that consuming potatoes may be good for individuals looking to decrease their blood pressure, they’ve also been linked to weight gain, which is why potatoes are something you’ll want to avoid as much as possible if you’re looking to lose weight or are following a low-carb diet. Two great alternatives to regular potatoes include sweet potato or mashed cauliflower.

Corn
Corn (particularly corn on the cob) is a staple food during spring and summer months. Due to it also being in so many processed foods, however, it’s gotten a bit of a bad reputation. Corn can also be high in calories. A small to medium sized ear of boiled corn on the cob is anywhere from 88 to 99 calories; if you’re eating creamed corn (from a can, for example), that can be as high as 184 calories per cup. So if you’re going to include corn in your diet, make sure it’s in moderation and that you watch your portion sizes. It’s also a good idea to make sure you include other foods with your meal, such as high-fibre produce as well as lean proteins.

Bell Peppers
While the research is sparse, some argue that bell peppers (such as red and green peppers) are bad for your health as they may cause inflammation and joint problems. These arguments are made due to the many chemicals that can be found in these types of vegetables, such as alkaloid solanine, which can cause problems with nerve function. If you suffer from rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, it’s generally recommended that you try to avoid bell peppers and their related counterparts (such as tomatoes and eggplant.) If you’re looking for healthy foods that also work as natural anti-inflammatories, try leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale, garlic, and even pineapple.

Fruits…

Figs
Figs are filled with fibre and are great for lowering blood pressure – and they can be eaten raw, right off a fig tree. However, they’re also packed with sugar. Just one cup (100 grams) of figs contain as much as 20 grams of sugar, so if you’re looking for a sweet but healthy fruit to eat, figs are generally something you should avoid.

Bananas
Rather than eating a large meal before working out, bananas are a great substitute as they can give you an extra boost of energy. They’re also filled with potassium, which helps prevent high blood pressure as well as heart and kidney problems from occurring. However, they’re also high in sugar. Just one banana can contain as much as 15 to 19 grams of sugar, so if you are going to eat bananas then be mindful about them.

Mangos
Mangos are a delicious treat and are commonly eaten alone as well as made into smoothies. They’re not only packed with soluble fibre, but they also contain vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. However, mangos also quite high in sugar. Just one mango can contain as much as 31 grams of sugar, so if you are going to eat a mango then it might be a good idea to either share it with someone else, or not eat it all in one sitting. If the sweetness is something you’re after, try blueberries instead. They have great flavour and are also rich in antioxidants.

You can find more information on fruits and vegetables via Health Canada.

Understanding the Body’s Reaction to Stress and Finding Relief

Understanding the Body’s Reaction to Stress and Finding Relief

We’ve all experienced stress in our lives at some point or another. It can be triggered by a wide variety of things – for example, being stuck in traffic, having to meet a deadline for work, studying or writing examples for school, job loss, bad grades, financial obligations and other demands, moving, divorce, chronic illness, death, as well as traumatic events such as natural disasters, theft, or sexual assault. Stress can also be triggered by underlying emotional problems such as low self-esteem and depression. Regardless of whatever it is that triggers your stress, we can all agree that it’s not fun to deal with. Depending on the individual, stress can be acute (short term), episodic (frequent), or chronic (long-term.)

When it comes to relieving stress, it is important for patients to first be able to recognize when they’re stressed. Stress can be such a common, frequent occurrence for some, to the point where they spend so much time in that heightened state that they’ll sometimes lose the ability to differentiate between when they’re feeling stressed out and when they aren’t, which is why Dr. Ali Ghahary says it’s important to take a step back and pay attention to the warning signs by listening to your body. If you’re happy and relaxed, you’re more likely to be smiling or laughing. When you’re stressed, however, your eyes may feel heavy, and your muscles may be tense – which can include a clenched jaw, hands, and even abdominal cramping. If you’re stressed you may also notice that you have shallow breathing. These are all clues that you may be under stress.

Next, you need to pay attention to how you respond to stress. Internally, our stress response is known as the “fight or flight” response. During a “fight or flight” response, your heart pumps faster, muscles constrict, pulse races, blood pressure increases, and your immune system drains. However, externally, we often react to stress in two different ways – an overexcited stress response or an underexcited stress response. During an overexcited stress response you may feel agitated, angry, or overly emotional; while an underexcited stress response cam include feelings of hopelessness, and you may even become withdrawn. If you experience an overexcited stress response, you’ll react better to finding activities that are quiet and keep you calm. If you experience an underexcited stress response, you’ll benefit from finding activities that keep you energized and are stimulating.

Finding relief from stress often involves different sensory techniques such as sight, smell, touch, taste, movement and sound. Explore nature by going to your favourite park or beach, look at a favourite photo, light a scented candle, drink a warm cup of tea, write in a journal, join a dance group. It’s all about finding something you enjoy that will lift your spirits. If you’re having trouble coming up with something, sometimes observing how others handle their stress can also help a great deal, and you may even benefit from joining a local support group. Having people to talk to who know exactly that you’re dealing with can make you feel less alone, and you may even make new friends as a result.

If you do happen to experience stress on a frequent basis, this is something that you also need to bring up to your family physician. He or she will be able to provide you with additional resources in your community, and possibly other stress-relieving techniques not mentioned here, as well as make necessary referrals to outpatient therapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Before & After Workout Tips

Before & After Workout Tips | Dr. Ali Ghahary

When it comes to physical activity, what you do before and after working out is important – from pre-workout stretching, to the type of food you consume. Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary shares some of the most crucial pre and post-workout tips to help you get the most out of your exercise routine.

Food & Drink

Dr. Ali Ghahary has always been a strong advocate of healthy eating. Having a healthy diet can improve your health in a number of different way – such as reduce the risk of diabetes, improve cholesterol levels, and help you lose weight – but did you know that what you eat can also play a difference when it comes to working out? Particularly if you’re wanting to increase your energy levels.

If you’re going to be engaging in high-impact exercise or training sessions, you’ll want to avoid consuming foods that are considered heavy or may take longer to break down in the stomach. Of course the obvious foods that you should stay away from include any foods that are fried or fatty, carbonated beverages, artificially flavoured drinks (as they often contain lots of sugar), as well as foods that are spicy. Foods that are high in fibre, while considered healthy, should also be avoided right before working out, as should nuts as they tend to have a higher fat content which means they can take longer for your stomach to digest. If you do want to have a light snack, health professionals recommend eating a banana at least 60 minutes prior to your workout. A banana provides your body with some of the essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy, such as potassium, manganese, and carbohydrates – which improve endurance, help with muscle function, as well as help with bone development and wound healing. Following your workout, opt for a low-protein snack.

It’s also important to stay hydrated. When we workout and sweat, our bodies lose water, so it’s always a good idea to have some H2O on hand – and drinking water also benefits your health in many other ways, too, which you can read more about here.

Stretching

People often choose to stretch before working out, which is fine, but it’s also a good idea to stretch after your workout, too. Stretching can help increase your range of motion and decrease any muscle/joint discomfort you might be feeling. It also helps to bring your body back down to a cool, resting position. Here you will find a list of different and easy post-workout stretches to try. For increased soreness or any inflammation, Dr. Ali Ghahary also recommends taking cooler showers to expedite the healing process.

For more diet and fitness tips, follow Dr. Ghahary on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary

Chocolate Myths and Facts

Chocolate Myths and Facts | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Easter weekend is the bearer of all things sweet – especially chocolate and mini eggs. Still, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, says it’s important to be mindful when indulging in those sweet treats.

First, it’s important to know that not all chocolate is the same. While milk chocolate tends to be the go-to chocolate of choice for many, it’s not as healthy compared to dark chocolate. Milk chocolate contains less cocoa and is also diluted with things like milk, cream and sugar. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, tends to have more cocoa present, therefore making it much healthier for you. This is because cocoa is a source antioxidants known as flavonoids, which are helpful in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and asthma…and can also reduce inflammation in the body. Some studies have even suggested that it can reduce blood pressure and improve insulin resistance. Dark chocolate also tends to have less sugar and fat content in comparison to milk (and even white) chocolate. When deciding on what type of dark chocolate you want, always make sure you are choosing chocolate that contains at least 65% cacao. The higher the cacao content, the better it will be for you.

That being said, there are also negative impacts that chocolate consumption can have – tooth decay being one of the biggest problems. Because chocolate can be high in sugar, that sugar sits on your teeth and can eventually lead to cavities. Once you develop a cavity you will require a filling, and in some cases may even need a root canal depending on the severity of the tooth decay and whether or not your dentist thinks that your tooth (or teeth) can be saved. To prevent tooth decay from occurring, you should brush and floss your teeth at least twice per day (morning and night.) Taking care of your oral health is just as important as every other aspect of your health.

If you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines, chocolate is also something you’ll want to avoid as it, along with other foods (such as cheese, nuts, peanut butter and citrus fruits), can be a trigger. However, it’s important to note that not everyone who consumes chocolate will develop a headache or a migraine, as foods affect everyone differently.

The average chocolate bar contains anywhere from 200 to 220 calories, which is considered low enough for anyone wanting to maintain a healthy weight. However, just like any other food, chocolate should be consumed in moderation. For more information on healthy eating including sweet treat alternatives, click here.