Recently this headline caught my attention – “Your Coffee Addiction is Officially Good For You!” Yes, finally something I’m addicted to might actually be good for me – woohoo! The headline comes from a panel called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which gives the US Government recommendations of what to include in the dietary guidelines that they revise every five years and will be issued later in 2015.
In the past, the US Government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee hadn’t included any recommendations for coffee or caffeine consumption. This year they’ve decided to incorporate coffee recommendations into their report. And it contains good news for all you java lovers out there! Well, let me rephrase that, it might contain good news…
The committee’s report cites strong evidence that a moderate amount of caffeine – 3 to 4 cups per day or up to 400mg of caffeine – won’t harm you or may even be good for you. Wow, that’s even more coffee than I drink!
Before you go dancing in the streets down to your favorite coffee shop, I’m going to rain on your parade just a teeny bit. They stated “moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern, along with other healthful behaviors.” Translated by me, the nutritionist – moderate caffeine consumption is not unhealthy for healthy people. So if you only sleep 4-6 hours per night, live like a couch potato, suffer from a chronic health condition like diabetes, walk around stressed out to the max or eat a Standard American Diet chock full of refined carbohydrates and other highly processed foods – this recommendation doesn’t apply to you! If you fall into the aforementioned categories, you might want to rethink your coffee habit as you could be doing damage to your health in the long run.
Don’t be scared, I’m not taking away your coffee just yet; in fact, I’m sitting here in a coffee shop drinking a black Americano as I write this!
More rain – this recommendation doesn’t include all of those chock-full-of-sugar concoctions like a double caramel machi-whatever or extra large frappe-whatchamacallit (not the so-called “skinny” versions either). It also doesn’t include all of the processed flavored creamers everyone keeps in the fridge. I think the last time I browsed through a Safeway, they needed an entire cooler to hold these horrible potions. They contain either loads of sugar or artificial sweeteners, along with a host of other unpronounceable ingredients including trans-fats – definitely not real food! And don’t drink your coffee laden with sugar, agave nectar or the colored sweetener packet of your choice either.
How should we drink our coffee all you healthy people now ask? Well…drink it black or add some healthy fat like organic heavy cream (if you tolerate dairy) or additive-free (only containing coconut and water) canned coconut milk like Golden Star or Natural Value. I can hear some of you whining, “But I don’t like it that way!” Try it, many of my clients didn’t think they would but when you cut out all the processed food, you’ll be amazed at how yummy it tastes!
I urge you to take a look at your coffee consumption and ask yourself one question, “Am I using coffee like a drug?” If the idea of no coffee or running out of coffee gives you the same feeling an empty liquor bottle or an empty drug baggie did, there might be a problem. Do you need it just to function in the morning? Do you drink coffee all day long up until that evening 12-step meeting only to go home and stay up until all hours of the night? Even if you think that coffee doesn’t keep you up at night, it still really negatively affects the quality of your sleep and, therefore, your health.
If you’ve decided you don’t fit into the healthy category above or you use caffeine like a drug, here are some ideas to curb that coffee addiction:
- Sleep 8-9 hours every night
- Eat a breakfast high in fat and protein (think eggs and bacon)
- Drink plenty of water (I love my Soda Stream!)
- Cut-off the coffee before noon every day
- Switch to herbal tea in the afternoons
- Blend your coffee with a high quality decaf (Swiss water processed is best) and slowly increase the amount of decaf
- Try a “caffeine holiday” for 30 days
Oh and don’t forget when they say a cup, they mean 8 ounces not your Big Gulp sized coffee mug! Enjoy!