Are you a slave to your morning brew? Is that cup of coffee the first thing on your mind each day? Are you less than pleasant to be around if you don’t get your a.m. fix or post-lunch energy drink? You may just be a caffeine addict, and you may be surprised to find out just how serious an addiction it can be.
Are you addicted?
As a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine works by manipulating dopamine and norepinephrine levels, creating a dependence not unlike that caused by the use of cocaine or amphetamines. If you experience that rise in energy and “crash” soon after, then tend to alleviate that tired and irritable feeling by having more coffee, soda, or energy drinks, you may be entering the caffeine addiction zone. Further, if you experience more severe reactions as a result of missing your cup of Joe or bottle of cola, such as headaches or depression, you may actually be dealing with withdrawal – a serious side effect of stimulant dependence.
Behind the Buzz
Aside from dependence, consuming caffeine can have other negative affects on both your health and your mood. While for some people caffeine may provide a little boost, for others that feeling can actually evolve into anxiety. A racing heart, shaky hands and restless legs can make focusing on work, meeting with clients, or getting a good night sleep a difficult task. Additionally, coffee and other caffeinated drinks can wreak havoc on your insides, having been linked to cases of heartburn, acid reflux, and stomach ulcers.
Have No Fear, Alternatives are here
Thankfully, for those of us seeking that energy and enjoyment normally found in our cup of coffee or can of cola, there are alternatives that lack the nasty side effects:
The clock reads 2pm but your mind feels like 5pm. You’re exhausted and you have hours to go. Instead of reaching for that afternoon soda or shot of espresso, opt for nature’s energy supplement: apples. With about 20 grams of natural sugars, apples can provide a boost of energy to help push you through to the end of the day. Also, with about 4 grams of fibre per apple, that energy will be released slowly and steadily, helping you to avoid that spike and crash often experienced after consuming caffeine.
Maybe it’s the warm feeling of the mug, or those few moments to yourself before or during your busy workday, that have you so attached to your daily brew. Giving up caffeine doesn’t mean you have to be kicked out of the coffee-break club. Teas have always been popular, with new exotic, soothing, and surprising blends coming onto the market all the time. Branch out and grab a naturally caffeine-free berry-infused, or caramel-flavoured, or even spicy, tea and continue enjoying those warm, relaxing moments.
Some researchers believe that for many regular drinkers, the experience of receiving energy from coffee may actually be all in the mind. After a time of regular consumption, the caffeine in your morning coffee may be merely easing symptoms of withdrawal, rather than providing that boost felt by first-time or sporadic drinkers. Try playing a trick on your self: ask your partner or roommate to make the coffee this week. Ask them to switch in decaf three out of the seven days. See if that skip in your morning step is really from the caffeine, or if it’s all in your head.
That’s right, a big tall glass of cold water can give you an equivalent if not larger dose of energy than any caffeinated beverage. One of the main causes of fatigue is dehydration and, while you may think you need coffee to help get you going, it is very likely that a big gulp of water will do you even better. Check out this notable past article for more information about the amazing benefits of drinking water.
While we don’t mean to scare you, and of course we too enjoy the smooth taste of a perfectly brewed coffee once in a while, we do hope that you may consider making your caffeinated beverages a treat, rather than a necessity. You don’t allow yourself to become desperately dependent upon your partner or your colleagues, do you? So don’t let coffee become the boss of you either.