My Love Affair With Coffee

6 Oct

I’ve known coffee for a long time. Our relationship has been quite the roller coaster ride.

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It all started in high school. I drank coffee because drinking coffee was “cool”. Showing up to school with a Starbucks cup in hand was so Ashley Olsen and I was all over that. Nevermind that driving all the way to Starbucks (definitely not on the way to school) always made me late for 1st hour. In college I drank coffee as a necessity. Caffeine was a must if I wanted to keep my eyes open in my 8 a.m. class after staying out too late the night before with a certain someone (ahem, JWD).

And then coffee and I had a falling out. I blame it on my new love affair with health. I read Skinny Bitch along with several other nutrition books and they all said coffee was death. poison. The drink of the devil. So I gave it up cold turkey. I can’t say that I didn’t reminisce from time to time about sitting in a little coffee shop and sipping a latte while I studied. The holidays were the hardest of course. I had to turn the other way when I passed Starbucks because I couldn’t bare the sight of those festive red holiday cups filled with gingerbread and eggnog lattes.

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My heart was broken, but I pressed on. Not long ago I decided to change my major from business (the land of coffee necessity) to nutrition. I arrived at the nutrition department in the fall of ’09 pure, detoxed, and coffee free only to face major shock. Everyone in the program drank coffee. Everyone. All of my svelte nutrition teachers happily sipped their java while lecturing in morning classes. All of my nutrition savvy classmates toted their daily dose of caffeine in cute reusable mugs. I began to reconsider the decision to banish the black “poison” from my life…

This brings me to my current relationship with coffee. It is a happy and healthy one, I must say. No longer do I drink it to look cool, no longer do I rely on it to function. In fact, I usually enjoy my one-cup-a-day in the privacy of my own kitchen. I love coffee because I love the experience of coffee. I love waking up and smelling it brewing. I love the comfort that holding the warm mug brings. I love the smooth, rich flavor. And, I’ll admit it, I love the little pep in my step that it gives me.

So What’s The Deal With Coffee?

We’ve all heard the controversy over coffee’s relationship to health. So is it good or bad? Well, it’s a little of both. (nothing is ever black and white)

Benefits

Coffee is chock-full of antioxidants (antioxidants prevent free-radicals from causing tissue damage), but it is unclear if the antioxidants actually end up absorbing into the body after consuming coffee.

Although the jury is still out on most of these claims, a growing number of studies are supporting that coffee may…

  • help prevent type 2 diabetes
  • decrease heart rhythm disturbances, a risk of for heart attack and stroke
  • lower risk of Parkinson’s
  • lower risk of Alzheimer’s

Drawbacks

Unless you drink decaf, coffee contains caffeine. Caffeine has it’s own set of side-effects including…

  • anxiety
  • sleep disruption/insomnia
  • irritability
  • raises blood pressure
  • dehydration (coffee is a diuretic, meaning it causes you to go to the bathroom more frequently leading to dehydration)

The acidic nature of coffee can cause or irritate existing heartburn.

Coffee is basically a zero-calorie drink… until you dress it up. All the little coffee “extras” can really add up- and add to your waistline. Creamers, sugar, and syrups can make coffee a (calorically) expensive indulgence.

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Bottom Line

Coffee has yet to be classified as either a “junk food” or a “health food”, but the latest research seems to be leaning in favor of us java drinkers with more and more studies showing a connection between coffee and lower disease risk. Just beware of coffee calorie traps that are full of fat and sugar. A Starbucks grande Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with 2% milk and whipped cream will cost you 540 calories, 19 grams of fat, and 76 grams of sugar!!! Ask for sugar-free syrups and soy or fat-free milk whenever possible. And if you can live without the whipped cream, do it. Avoid the calorie (and money!!) pit altogether by brewing your own coffee concoction at home. Here’s one I’m going to try this week:

the health nut’s homemade pumpkin spice latte

How do you like your coffee? I drink mine black because I’m hardcore like that. I really love flavored french press coffee and lately I’ve been hooked on Park Avenue Coffee Pumpkin Spice and Kaldi’s Cinnamon Hazelnut. Flavored coffees are a great way to add a little sparkle without adding calories. I love collecting different coffee cups and travel mugs too.

Stay tuned for a healthified comfort food post this weekend!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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5 Responses to “My Love Affair With Coffee”

  1. emily October 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    I think we have a similar relationship with coffee. I also enjoy one cup a day, and it’s a lovely little tradition. I like adding a little almond milk for creaminess.

    Hope you enjoy the pumpkin latte!

  2. Laua October 8, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    Love this post, and I think we should enjoy another cup of coffee again soon!

  3. Laura October 8, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    And you would think I would be able to spelly my name right! It’s probably because I skipped the coffee today…

  4. Laura October 8, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    Ok, so apparently I can’t figure out the whole post thing! But I love your post…we should definately get together to enjoy another cup of coffee!!

    • kayli (Running On Sunshine) October 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

      Haha YES, I definitely think we are overdue for a date! Coffee and a walk? Let me know when you’re free! And I’m so glad you like this post (:

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