Moderate consumption of coffee is not a bad thing (for most people) in life. It induces a feeling of well-being, makes you more alert and aahh…who can resist the aroma? Really? Caffeine-related studies have conflicted over the years. A 2011 Harvard study suggested that coffee can help reduce stroke, but caffeine can also cause physical dependence, and if you’re overdoing it, it can wreak some serious havoc on your system. Caffeine can aggravate stress and anxiety, temporarily disrupt blood sugar levels (diabetics, beware!), and cause an imbalance in the acid levels in your digestive system. Pregnant women are especially cautioned to limit their intake to a maximum of two six-ounce cups a day, but it’s probably best to avoid it altogether.
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So how much is too much? Try giving it up to find out! Caution, this is not for the faint-hearted. Caffeine withdrawal can kick in, often in less than a day and stay with you for over a week. If you suffer from nausea, irritability, fatigue and/or headaches when you stray from your café con leche, you may need to start cutting back. Try these tips to get your relationship with coffee back to balance:
1. Be present while you drink your cup of Juan Valdez. Take time to really enjoy it. Don’t drink it while rushing out the door, getting behind the steering wheel or hopping on the train for your commute. Allow your body and mind to register the experience, purposely drawing out the pleasure. The more time you spend with your coffee, the less likely you are to want another cup.
2. Drink a glass of water before drinking your café. Sometimes, all we really need is to hydrate. Drink a full glass of water and wait 15 minutes. Then ask yourself if you still want that latte. If you do, go back to Tip 1.
3. Try switching to green tea. There are lots of great flavors of green tea–jasmine, pomegranate, and lemon, to name a few. Over time, you may be able to switch to herbal teas, which are caffeine-free. Substitute a smoothie during that 4 p.m. slump. This can be an opportunity to chill out (especially in the summer) and stock up on a few servings of fruit. Try it and see how you feel. You may like the results.
4. Go for a walk. If you’re feeling a craving, get moving! Go for a quick walk, even if it’s around the block or the parking lot. If you find you still need a fix, repeat Tips 2, 3 or 4.