Wednesday, August 3, 2011

healthy habits: drink less coffee

Oh, how I love coffee. I love the taste, the smell, the routine, the ritual.


But oh, how dependent I've become. After we moved in together, J quickly learned that it was better not to speak to me until I had a cup in front of me and a few sips down the pipe. And that's on half-strength coffee! While coffee has some healthy advantages (hello, antioxidants), its disadvantages can outweigh them over time. The most obvious disadvantage is the caffeine.

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What makes caffeine so terrible?

First, whatever your tolerance level, caffeine affects sleep. Caffeine molecules are similar to a chemical called adenosine, which tells our brains that we're tired. When we consume caffeine, it binds to the adenosine receptors, but doesn't send the same signals that adenosine does. So essentially, we're blocking those fatigue signals. Our bodies may need rest, but caffeine doesn't allow it. And sleep is important for our health in innumerable ways.

Second, great minds in alternative medicine believe long-term caffeine consumption leads to adrenal fatigue. Basically, that means you've kept your body revved up for too long, and your adrenal glands suffer. Hormones get out-of-whack, and you feel tired and weak.

And finally, caffeine is addictive. Like most addictions, it starts out fun ("Omg...i haf 2g2 Starbux!"), but quickly affects relationships ("Don't talk to me...I need coffee."). If we're addicted to caffeine, going without it leads us down the inevitable path of moodiness and headaches. Most of us do everything we can to make sure we don't have to go through that withdrawal, but isn't that a crippling way to live?

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How will I get through withdrawal?

Fear not, dear readers. The solution is simple. Buy yourself some decaf coffee. Every day, replace a little of your regular with decaf. You could easily manage to wean yourself off the caffeine in a week or two.

Problem solved, right?

Wrong. Unfortunately, coffee, regular or decaf, also promotes an acidic environment in the body, which is exactly the environment that our body is constantly combating, and also the environment in which cancer thrives. (Thanks for the info, Mom!)

But now, unfortunately, you're addicted to decaf coffee. There must be a step two, you insist!

Indeed there is!

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What will I drink instead?


Okay, this is the most fun part of the whole process and integral to making it stick. Turns out, you don't have to replace your coffee with some bland, herbal tea that you sip with a wrinkled nose while saying, "mmm" to convince yourself you love it. You could:

-Find an herbal tea you like. (Here's my favorite.) Liven it up with some honey and almond milk. There are vanilla-, chocolate-, and nut-flavored teas too!
-Try Teeccino. (And let me know if it's good!)
-Try yerba maté or kombucha. They're not caffeine free, but have less than coffee and pack powerfully healthy punches.

Or, you could wake up to a more chocolate-y morning...

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Hot Morning Joe-Coa

Ingredients:
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
8 drops liquid vanilla stevia (or other sweetener, to taste)
1/4 cup almond milk
boiling water

*Note: This is very much a "to taste" recipe. Play around with how much of the three ingredients you love; I guarantee there's a perfect, delicious balance for everyone!

Put a kettle of water on to boil. Add cocoa or cacao powder to a mug. When the water is boiling, add to the mug, leaving enough room for almond milk. Stir in your sweetener and milk.


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I've been completely "off" coffee for just a few days, and while I'm not feeling very different yet, I feel good knowing that I've made what I really believe is a healthy choice. Of course I plan on indulging in coffee every once in awhile. But, like my relationship with sugar, those special opportunities will be that much more enjoyable when they arise.

And I'll be honest. So far I'm liking this better than coffee. The best part of waking up, is chocolate in my cup!

5 comments:

  1. I have to be honest - I have thought about kicking this habit a lot, especially as my headaches make me more irritable and my acid reflux gets worse. Whenever I go on a trip, I sometimes stress about finding a place for my morning coffee and pick hotel rooms based on whether or not they provide it in the room. I also think about things like "when I'm pregnant" knowing I will need to cut back if not cut out. But like you, I love coffee and my relationship with it. I don't know if I really want to quit, you know? This has been who I am since before high school and so, to be completely honest, quitting scares me.

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  2. I think that's totally understandable, and it's important to be honest with yourself about stuff like that.

    Coffee is not the worst thing in the world. If quitting will make you unhappy, I don't think it's worth it. But if you are looking to improve your relationship with it, you can make small changes...like making it half strength.

    In any case, take your time...don't feel like you have to change your life all at once...and when you do drink your coffee, just enjoy it!

    Does that help? =)

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  3. I had to reduce my coffee intake to weekends-only. It was a little brutal at first, but I'm happier for it. I usually go for a nice cuppa tea if I'm craving a beverage nowadays, but that joe-coa looks pretty tasty. :)

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  4. =) Yes, I enjoy both! And maybe a cup of coffee just every once in awhile...

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  5. I don't drink tea or coffee, it is better to have fresh juices, after all health is everything.

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Thanks for making me smile. =)