Life with a new baby can be very stressful, especially in the first few weeks. Thomas Fuller, English scholar, preacher and author, wrote many years ago: All things are difficult before they are easy. Those are words of wisdom that were true in the 1600s and have stood the test of time as they are still true today in the 21st century.
So how do you get through those stressful times when life is hard before it is easier? For some the word is: Chocolate
All chocolates are not created equal. The sugary, fat-saturated chocolate that is sold as candy does not have the health benefits that tart dark chocolate has been proven to have.
Chocolate initially comes from the cacao beans on a cacao tree. The scientific name for the tree is "theobroma cacao." The word theobroma means "food of the gods" in Greek. Chocolate lovers would totally agree.
The really good news is that there is scientific evidence to support that dark bitter chocolate can actually help your heart and your mood.
In 2009, Steffen Desch, M.D., and his colleagues from the University of Leipzig-Heart Center in Germany found dark chocolate can be a contributing factor in lowering blood pressure. When we get stressed our blood pressure can go up. So maybe that is the beginning of why chocolate can help relieve stress. How much chocolate do you need to help your mood and heart? That is up for debate. Research suggests anywhere from 1.4 ounces and day for two weeks to 2 ounces a day.
Years ago I heard a lecture using the word chocolate as a tool to deal with the daily stresses we all face. I embraced the concept. The letter "C" represents being in the center and present, worrying about the future will not change the present. "H"eal with humor whenever possible. Be "O"pen to relationships with others. "C"ope with elegance and good manners. "O"utlast the creeps, bad behavior has a way of waning after awhile. "L"earn something new. Learning new things always expands our horizons and broadens our vision. "A"ccept responsibility for self in all of your actions. "T"ake time. Sometimes that means just taking time to take a deep breath to let stress leave your mind and body. "E"ngage in life. Get out and do something, maybe go for a walk.
Get through one day at a time with a new baby. Laugh when you can. The precious baby in your arms will grow up and smile at you soon. You are learning something new as you take on your new role as a parent. Take time to do something nice for yourself, even if it is as simple as having a piece of chocolate.
I would propose that this Halloween week that we embrace not only the benefits of the cacao bean but the words of wisdom that can be found in the word chocolate.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital's Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Healthy Living. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.