They say that the first step is admitting you have a problem. If that’s the case, then I’m definitely on my way. The issue that I have is that I really don’t want to address my problem, if we can be entirely honest here. I’m a caffeine addict. It doesn’t seem that bad, I realize, but it is (sometimes). I actually enjoy coffee, which is why I drink it. Every day. Five-plus times. Funny enough (or sad enough), I have a bag of ground coffee sitting on my desk right now, next to the coffee maker that I have set up in my room. Just the smell of coffee lights up my senses. The problem is that I can’t have just one cup. On any given day, I’ll usually brew 6 cups and drain cup after cup until I realize that brewing a second batch (if that’s the proper term) is probably unnecessary and slightly unhealthy.
Mondays are my tough days, in terms of scheduling. I’m on campus from about 9A until 7 or 8PM. I have a meeting from 9A – 10A, a seminar from 10A – 1130A, a class from 2-4P, another class from 430P – 6P and a meeting from 6P – 7P, so I constantly have to bring my A game and have a fully functioning brain to absorb hours of information. This past Monday, struggling to get out of bed, I started my day with two soy lattes before 930A and went home that evening having had downed the equivalent of 6 coffees (4 of them being soy lattes — not as sugary as the US kind, don’t worry). As I sat in my 430P class, half-drifting off, I started realizing that the awfulness of all of this:
a) Caffeine: Although data is inconclusive on this front, most studies indicate that there should be future research on the high linkage of caffeine consumption and hypertension (especially in women)
b) Soy: I only drink soy milk; soy lattes, soy in my cereal… milk is gross to me + my body’s not a fan of it. Unfortunately the doctor tells me that too much soy leads to breast cancer. Seriously, can we do anything right?
c) Splenda: My friend watched in awe as I dumped three packets of aspartame into my super strong latte, mouth literally agape. I stirred the white flecks in until they were no longer visible and then gulped them down, drop by drop. Studies in rats have indicated that large doses of aspartame are carcinogenic. Although I don’t think three packets a day would be considered a “large dose,” she [my friend] quickly pointed out that three packets x 5 servings a day = 15 packets of Splenda = possible death.
All in all, I can see that coffee is slowly killing me. And if that weren’t enough, here’s the worst part: I only had one cup today. That would be a good thing if I were trying to wean myself off, but I’m not. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with what happens to an addict when they don’t get their fix, but it involves withdrawals. PAINFUL withdrawals. So, right now, I’m sitting in my room after having taken a two-hour nap to get rid of my ridiculously awful pounding headache. I have consumed liter after liter of water and have sipped on hot chocolate to warm my soul. Nothing really works.
Moral of the story: If you’re going to be addicted to something and have to deal with withdrawals, pick a better vice than coffee. Not worth the trouble.
Daniel, K. (2007) “Soy – Cause or Cure for Breast Cancer?” Natural News [article link]
Hartley, T., Sung, B., Pincomb, G., Whitsett, T., Wilson, M., and Lovallo, W. (2000) “Hypertension Risk Status and Effect of Caffeine on Blood Pressure” Hypertension 36 p. 137 -141
MacDonald, TM, Sharpe, K., Fowler, G., Lyonds, D., Freestone., S, Lovell, HG., Webster, J., and Petrie, JC. (1991). “Caffeine restriction: effect on mild hypertension” British Medical Journal 303 (6812), p. 1235 – 1238
Williams, G. (2008) “Carcinogenicity of Aspartame in Rats Not Proven” Environ Health Perspect 116 (6) p.239 – 240
Winkelmayer, WC., Stampfer, MJ., Willett, WC., Curhan, GC. (2005) “Habitual caffeine intake and the risk of hypertension in women” Journal of American Medicine 294 (18) p. 2330 – 5