If there is one “acceptable” drug in our fast-paced culture, it is caffeine. While caffeine is naturally occurring in the seeds, fruits, and leaves of some plants, such as coffee beans, it can also be crystallized and added to foods, drinks, and pills. In fact, caffeine is a huge food and supplement business. It is touted to help with everything from waking up to cleaning house. Yeah, if you want to look like the Tasmanian Devil from Loony Tunes.
As I have matured, not aged, mind you, caffeine tends to be less and less friendly with me. So, I have reduced my caffeine intake to about a cup of coffee or tea a day. If I exceed that amount, I might scare small children. Caffeine side effects are well documented, and yet it is still added to more and more drinks and food with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration.
Caffeine contributes to such problems as anxiety, insomnia, cardiac arrhythmia, and increased blood pressure. While some studies suggest that it also has positive side effects, such as helping with migraine headaches (I can attest that it does help), negative caffeine side effects range from mild to dramatic for different people, it is a stimulant and one which can drastically affect your health, usually not for the better.
While I drink coffee and tea for the taste, not the caffeine, many people really feel like they need that jolt to help them wake up or stay alert. By consuming artificially-enhanced caffeine drinks or taking energy pills, which is the equivalent of mainlining caffeine, some people run the risk of negatively affecting their health. Not to mention, people dying from over-consumption of caffeinated drinks. So tragic.
Caffeine is addictive, so kicking the habit isn’t easy, but follow these baby steps to get started:
- Drink water when you get up in the morning before reaching for a cup of coffee. If you’re not thirsty, you might drink less coffee.
- Brew or buy smaller quantities of coffee. I’m a person who never likes for something to go to waste, so I have to appeal to my frugal nature by just making less so I don’t think I need to drink more than I should.
- Set a daily deadline and don’t consume any caffeine after a certain time, say 3 p.m.
- Set a daily limit. Once you’ve had your two or three cups, whatever you decide, wash your mug and put it away.
- Drink lots of water or decaffeinated herbal tea while you reduce your caffeine load. It’s kind of like what chewing gum does for smokers.
- Opt for decaf when ordering coffee or tea. I am a discriminating coffee drinker, and I can rarely tell the difference in taste when drinking a good decaf. Now, bad coffee is bad coffee, and I’ll never make excuses or encourage you to choke down a cup of motor oil or colored water.
- Take it easy. You won’t need caffeine to energize you if you don’t have 50 things to do in an hour. Slow down and take sanity breaks over coffee breaks.
Once you reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake, you might find a whole new outlook on life. One which doesn’t involve artificially stimulating your body to make it through the day.
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