There’s a day to celebrate everything in this country and coffee is no exception! This Sunday, September 29th, is National Coffee Day and there may be millions of wired, jittery people bouncing off walls this weekend with free promotions and giveaways. Of course they’re giving it away—more for ways for us to become addicted!
My first introduction to drinking coffee started after college when I started working in New York City and I needed that rush of sugar and caffeine (aka sugar and milked up coffee and a glazed chocolate donut) to rev me up for the craziness to come. It was no time until coffee became not only a habit, but an addiction, a reason to walk away from my desk, a few minutes of socializing, a refueling of energy or a moment to stop and relax. When babies came, the addiction was well entrenched and coffee became an essential part of my remedy for no sleep, more no sleep and stressful days and nights. That was in the days when a coffee was just coffee—no frills, inexpensive, no flavors, no steaming, no almond-soy-coconut milk alternatives, no syrups, no supersized cups—just $1.50 a cup coffee.
When “artisan-styled” coffee and the shops that exalt it began popping up on every corner, I had lots of company in my guilty pleasure addiction. It’s no wonder that after 3 decades of swilling the stuff 2 or 3 times (I lie, it was often more like 3-4 bigs cups) a day, I started to feel some acid reflux going on. Instead of popping an antacid and ignoring the clear message my body was telling me, I decided to consciously cut down and surprisingly, it hasn’t been as difficult as I thought. For most of the various reasons I drank coffee, I found a different, better alternative and to my shock and amazement, the acid reflux calmed down!
I don’t know why I was clearly in denial that there would be a direct correlation between cutting down on coffee and the burning feeling climbing up throat-–it’s medical fact that one can cause the other. But it reaffirmed to me two important ideas that resonate with me on many levels….
1) when people don’t want to give up something in their life that is enjoyable but detrimental, they will deny the evidence that it is detrimental
2) there are healthier alternatives to detrimental foods that are delicious and enjoyable if you open your mind to it.
In an effort to get serious about cutting down on coffee, I re-read Debby’s blog about Kick-Ass Alternatives to Coffee and found that there are lots of healthier ways to get the “coffee-feeling”….here is an excerpt and a link to the rest of the article that lists really great and helpful ways to cut down. I’m happy to say that I’m down to one normal-sized cup in the morning and still working on it!
originally posted by Debby Sunshine
Coffee, coffee, coffee! Just about everyone loves coffee, and I am no exception. Coffee gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, to hold a hot comforting mug in your hand, to gather in a “klatch” with your pals to discuss last night’s reality TV and to break up your day with a trip to Starbuck’s. I get it! I really do! There’s just something about coffee that makes the whole world buzz. That is why giving up coffee was the single hardest thing for me to do when I adopted my vegan lifestyle.
Yes, you can still be vegan and drink coffee with soy milk or your favorite non-dairy milk or creamer. In fact, I recently fell off the wagon and started drinking coffee again after having been off the stuff for almost four years. But I started to feel crummy, which was really hard for me because I had been feeling amazing for so many years. Although I am not a doctor or a certified nutritionist, I attribute this crummy feeling to my coffee consumption. Hence, I have quit coffee once again.
There have been many articles and news’ reports over the past few years praising the health benefits of coffee. Some of these claimed health benefits have included preventing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, protecting against Parkinson’s disease and depression, protecting against certain types of cancer and providing a laxative effect. These claims may very well be valid, and I’m sure that there is scientific evidence to back them up. However, my common sense, logic, research, and instincts tell me that there are much better choices than coffee consumption to prevent medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression and constipation.
What about flooding your body with an abundance of fruits and vegetables to give your body the fiber and antioxidants it needs to fight these diseases, instead of relying upon coffee to do the trick? Dr. Neal Barnard’s new book entitled Power Foods For The Brain is aimed at using plant-based foods as medicine to prevent some of these diseases.
I urge you to consider the negative health effects of drinking coffee, as well as the supposed benefits. Coffee consumption has been known to increase loss of bone mineral density by stealing calcium which can be lost through urine, leading to osteoporosis. Coffee, particularly when unfiltered, may contribute to high cholesterol levels. Caffeinated coffee may also cause raised blood pressure levels and increased homocysteine levels in the blood, presenting a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. Since coffee is a diuretic, drinkers of coffee are at risk of dehydration. Drinking coffee may also cause sleep disturbances and, because it is highly acidic, can upset your body chemistry. This is why it is considered a “no-no” in macrobiotics and Ayurvedic medicine. These are just some of the negative health effects of drinking coffee.
You may be wondering how I deal with my coffee cravings. My answer: find a great substitute! It’s just a matter of experimenting with different products to find ones that will help you kick your habit. Although you may not feel that life is worth living without your daily “cuppa joe” (and I get that), isn’t it worth a try to find some replacements that you may like even better? Okay, maybe not “better” but something enjoyable nevertheless?
Click Here for Debby’s suggestions for Kick-Ass Coffee Alternatives
Thanks Deb and I’ll be trying them all!