Category Archives: Eating & Body

Caffeine: I can quit anytime! I swear!

My doctor mentioned on my last visit that I was starting to show signs of stress and hypertension (which is probably linked to my PCOS). Because my MD is pretty laid-back and awesome, she said she’d give me three months to work on reducing my stress levels or she was going to have to prescribe a low-salt, high blood-pressure diet and put caffeine on the forbidden list. To which I said “Gaaaargh!” and then promised to work on stress reduction and do more yoga. Anything rather than give up the monkey on my back: caffeine.

As far as vices go, I live a pretty clean life. I don’t smoke. I only drink when I’m around my friends in social situations (no drunken work parties for me, thank you very much), and even then, I usually limit my intake to two alcohol units*. I don’t gamble.* I don’t engage in random sex with strangers.** Basically, my only no-nos are biting my fingernails (super bad for your health, actually) and caffeine.

However, maybe we need to take a more serious look at our reliance on this legalized stimulant? After all, caffeine does more harm than good for your health. I’ve relied on the stuff since college, although back then it was in the form of crisp, sparkly HFCS-laden Mountain Dew. Now I limit my consumption to a kick-start in the morning, via either iced black tea or something piping hot from Starbucks, and on weekends, I can go without it completely (without getting withdrawal headaches). My goal for the rest of the month is to make a conscious effort to reduce my intake and also, get more sleep so that I am naturally energized.

I’m making this decision because of a wake-up call with my health, but Jobacle wonders what it would be like if employers had the same attitude about caffeine the way they do about other drugs and banned its employees from “using.”

Picture a time where people are stashing thermoses filled with coffee in their desk drawers and keeping coffee beans in their cars. The fear of random drug tests keep everybody on their toes. The best performing stocks belong to companies who have mastered the art of decaf, and have found a way to distill other ‘legal’ energy boosters into hot drinks. It might not be plausible, but it also might not be impossible. I’ll tell you straight up that if I ran a company (larger than Jobacle!) I wouldn’t want my employees suffering from the myriad problems caffeine brings with it. I’d even be willing to foot the bill to help them kick the habit. When you hire a coffee drinker, much like a smoker, you are assuming a greater risk–and there’s a good chance you will get less productivity out of that person versus a non-drinker. Plus, your health insurance costs could skyrocket.

How much caffeine do you consume on a given day? Are you addicted? What would you do without caffeine if your job or your health depended on it? Could you quit? The comments are waiting with a triple foam half caff grande latte.

*I’m employing the Vegas exclusion.

Two Comments by Editors:

1. I’ve never been a coffee drinker but I used to get a ton of caffeine from the 6 diet cokes a day I would drink. I used to think I was immune to caffeine as I never felt it and I could go a day without drinking any and be fine. When I quit drinking diet coke completely I went through 1 week of withdrawl type symptoms and 2-3 weeks of just being REALLY tired. It was kind of an eye-opener to see how dependent I really was on the stuff. Since then my skin has gotten so much better – not sure if is the lack of diet coke or the additional water I now drink instead but now that I’m completely off of it (been 6 full months) I don’t miss it at all.

2. I used to drink a ridiculous amount of caffeine. I mean a double energy drink in the morning and then before my night serving shift a quad shot (yes, as in 4 shots of espresso!) mocha, poured over ice so I could suck it down in 10 seconds. All this on an empty stomache, or I wouldn’t even get my buzz! And they say weed is evil. Ha!

Thankfully, I have backed off of my habit a bit. I don’t drink coffee on a regular basis at all, just when I need a boost. I almost never drink energy drinks (the caffeine isn’t even the worst thing for you in those…). It took a while to get over the headaches though…