Coffee is a staple of most people’s lives. The dark black stuff helps us get out of bed, to struggle through the next day after sleepless nights and make it through that long mid-afternoon meeting. Whether you like it to go, with one lump or two, with milk or cream, with added froth or with a shot of syrup, it’s practically a national dish.
We all know that drinking too much coffee is bad for us, but how much is too much? When does it go from an everyday pick me up to a bit of an addiction? And how do you keep the calories down when the latest holiday season special has just arrived?
Most people pour a coffee when they wake up all groggy and bleary eyed. Teeth, shower, clothes on, coffee – it’s a morning routine. With some people the coffee even comes first! When you think about it, it’s a little bit worrying that so many need a cup of this hot beverage to even function.
Coffee of course isn’t all dark and does fuel us in many ways. Besides needing the caffeine hit to perk ourselves up and feel alert, coffee is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Scientific studies have suggested coffee can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. There are suggestions that coffee also helps with depression, as well as improving brain function and mood in others. The other plus side of coffee is the social side, meeting for a quick coffee and catching up in coffee houses. This is all good healthy stuff and there’s nothing wrong with coffee featuring in your life in this way. As is often true about most things, it’s all about balance.
Coffee becomes more of a problem when you absolutely can’t function without it and you’re having six or more cups a day of the fresh strong coffee. Anyone say double espresso?
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Did you know you can become tolerant of coffee? With long term use you start to need more and more to get the same hit. If a regular user you’ll also get the withdrawal symptoms of headaches and irritation if you go without your regular drink. Drunk too close to bedtime, it can affect your quality and ability to sleep. If this all sounds exactly like the same sort of language you would use to describe alcohol or other drugs, well I guess it is is– what a scary thought!
We’re certainly not suggesting you stop drinking coffee, we’re certainly not going to 😉 but we do have a few really helpful tips to share.
Try having your last coffee at around 3 pm. Everyone is different, but setting a time limit will help it clear your system before bedtime. Some people don’t know they’re still under the effects of caffeine. If you have trouble sleeping, maybe give this a go and see how you feel? Most people would love to feel a little more rested each day.
Try just to have a maximum of four cups of coffee per day (and that doesn’t mean cheating and going extra large in all the coffee shops around!). An adult should only really consume around 400 mg of caffeine per day, which is about the equivalent of four average sized cups of coffee. If you really miss your favorite drink, maybe switch some of it out for decaffeinated or drink totally decaffeinated coffee.
In terms of watching your calorie and fat intake, just be aware that at some times in the year the gorgeous tempting festive drinks can actually contain more than a restaurant desert! Super as a one off treat; don’t be tempted to replace your morning coffee with a syrup packed, cream topped and biscuit sprinkled gourmet delighted every morning!
Basically, there’s still ways to keep coffee in your life and make it your friend. Phew! Just be sensible and keep it balanced. We’re trying hard too!