The number one thing I hear when I meet with clients for the first time is “please don’t make me give up coffee!!” As a former Starbucks “junkie” living on 2-3 venti size coffees per day, I don’t think there’s anyone that loves coffee more than I do. So I can definitely relate. If I can reform my caffeine habit down to one double espresso per day, I know anyone can do it.
Now this can be a controversial topic and you will find differing opinions amongst holistic practitioners. No doubt my own love of coffee is influencing my approach and opinion on this matter, however based on my knowledge and experience I generally take an “in moderation” approach to caffeine intake. I believe that for some of us it can be unrealistic to give up coffee forever. Not only do many people love the taste, but it is also a huge component of our social rituals. I think there are many other elements of our diet that can cause our health much more harm than a cup of coffee a day.
Now having said all that, for some individuals, there may be specific reasons to give up caffeine, such as during a detox or cleanse, or if they have certain conditions where caffeine may worsen or aggravate symptoms. Taking a ‘break’ from caffeine can also be a very good thing. But as a rule of thumb for the general population, 200-400 milligrams of caffeine per day is a tolerable amount.
Now here’s the real catch: Coffee means coffee – ideally black, maybe a little raw sugar, honey or agave syrup. It does not include a “venti caramel macchiato with whipped cream” first thing in the morning! For those of you who aren’t aware – this little drink has 250 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar.
There is nothing that breaks my heart more than standing at Starbucks every morning as I wait for my espresso, and seeing people walk away with one of these drinks to start their day. It’s not about the calories or the weight gain, what I care about is your health. We wouldn’t start off our day with a milk shake for breakfast, but that’s exactly what these drinks are – adult milkshakes.
Blood sugar is the number one growing problem in North America today. 1 in 3 Americans are projected to develop Type 2 Diabetes over the next decade and Heart Disease continues to be the leading cause of death. “Metabolic Syndrome” is the name given to the latest condition that is becoming an epidemic. It is a condition that identifies the risk factors for both Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes, and it is characterized by elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides and LDL levels, as well as extra weight around the midsection. These stats are staggering and the ridiculous amounts of sugar in our diets is wreaking havoc on our blood sugar and insulin levels that in turn impact weight, cravings, low energy, moodiness and depression.
The goal of my post today is not to make you give up your beloved coffee, but to consider these small changes in your routine:
1) Skip the sweet “milkshake” drinks. Switch to a regular latte or cappuccino, they have half the calories and 1/3 the sugar.
2) If you must have one of the sweeter drinks, have it 2-3 times per week instead of every day and always in the afternoon, not in the mornings.
3) Ask for a half sweet version, which uses 2 instead of 4 pumps of syrup.
4) For regular coffee drinkers, try downsizing. A venti Starbucks coffee has 415 mg of caffeine, a grande 330 mg and a tall 260 mg. Better yet, go for espresso instead. A double espresso is only 150mg of caffeine, and is less acidic to the body. And remember: 1 cup per day.
5) Finally, skip the energy drinks. While most have between 150-300mg of caffeine, the main source of energy high is the 7-10 teaspoons of sugar per serving. It’s no wonder you get an energy hit.
Consider these small changes. They really do add up and before you know it, you are feeling better!
To your health and happiness,