The other night The Nutcracker ballet was on television. I settled down to watch it with a fluffy blanket, my tiny Chihuahua on my lap, and a cup of hot cocoa. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I hadn’t had a cup of hot cocoa in soooooo long. I savored every drop and enjoyed the peaceful, seasonal moment. Ahhhh….. bliss.
After the ballet, I went to bed….or so I thought. I was awake til about 1:30am! Could it have been the chocolate from my hot cocoa? And if it had this effect on me, is it ok for pregnant women to have chocolate?
Most people know that coffee and tea and many soft drinks contain caffeine. But, did you know that chocolate contains caffeine, too? The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women (and women who are trying to become pregnant) limit the amount of caffeine that they eat or drink to 200 mg (milligrams) per day. Some studies suggest that larger amounts of caffeine may contribute to fertility problems or miscarriage. The source of the caffeine does not matter; the risk is the same for caffeine from coffee, tea, sodas and other foods and drinks, including chocolate.
Here are some examples of foods or drinks and their caffeine values:*
8 ounce cup of coffee 95-200 mg
8 ounce cup black tea 14-61 mg
8 ounce cup green tea 24-40 mg
Sodas 0 to 55 mg
Energy drinks 47-207 mg
1.55 ounce Hershey’s milk chocolate bar 12 mg
9 Hershey kisses 11 mg
8 ounce cup decaffeinated tea 0-12 mg
8 ounce cup hot cocoa 3-13 mg
I am surprised to see how little caffeine is in a cup of hot chocolate…aren’t you? I doubt that my cup of hot cocoa is what kept me up that night. But, then again, I am really sensitive to foods and beverages - a little bit of something can have a big effect on me. I guess that despite the number of milligrams of caffeine in a food or beverage, you have to know yourself, and your own body, and do what is best for you.
Another important factor is to read labels and be mindful of serving sizes. In this age of “super sized” cups and portions, you may be getting way more caffeine in a serving than you ever imagined.
So, when you go to the Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s or other seasonal party, and you are surrounded by a spread of desserts and loads of chocolate, you will know how to select what to eat based on what you have eaten that day. You will also know what to eat depending on the time of day.
And, when you settle down to watch It’s A Wonderful Life with your cup of java or hot cocoa, you will be able to do so and not stay up half the night like me!
(*Values courtesy of Mayo Clinic, OTIS and Hershey websites.)