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Caffeine: Sinner and Saint

I am addicted to caffeine.  The smallest amount I can consume and still feel okay is 16 ounces of coffee.  That’s the amount needed to stave off headaches.  On days when I need to drive in the afternoon, I’ll give myself anywhere from 8 ounces to 16 ounces of coffee as a booster.  This is down from the very high levels of caffeine that I was consuming right after the twins were born, when we were piecing together a few hours of sleep each night.  I felt okay about it then because we were truly in a you-need-to-do-what-you-need-to-do sort of place trying to feed, change, stimulate, and nap two premature infants on heart monitors.  But once they started truly sleeping through the night at 15 months (yes, I’m aware that’s late in the game.  But we had to do night feeds until then for weight issues), I was able to bring my caffeine consumption down to my current 16 – 32 ounces per day.

Earlier in the week, the New York Times had an article about how caffeine may boost memory.  I was already dragging, getting no sleep from the back pain and working on the book, so I let myself have a few extra cups of coffee here and there, rationalizing that it’s good for my memory.  I mean, the tacit permission is there in the freakin’ New York Times.  Have another cup, Melissa.

The Atlantic didn’t even hedge their bets covering the same study.  In their world caffeine = better memory, and they recommend half a Starbucks Venti.  Thank you, I think I will.

And then Elle put out their own article on caffeine on Friday, beginning with the word “scary” in the title.  Scary?  How can memory enhancement be scary unless we’re talking about remembering things you don’t want to remember?  The “disgusting” (their word) problems that caffeine is making for my body while it helps me remember where I placed my car keys: depression, osteoporosis, and INFERTILITY!

Nevermind that I was entirely off caffeine while we were trying to conceive.  I only drank decaf tea and coffee for over two straight years.

Still, Elle points out that “While not every study has found that caffeine reduces female fertility, most doctors of natural medicine recommend that women trying to get pregnant avoid caffeine.”  I guess the solution for me is to not visit doctors of natural medicine but to go with the hacks who are going to tell me to take 480 ccs, STAT.

iced_coffeeImage: Ben Schumin via Flickr

I am constantly amused that if we believe the media and scientific studies, pretty much everything we consume or come in contact with is killing us while helping us live longer/better, all at the same time.

My caffeine product of choice: Iced coffee with half-and-half and Equal.  Second place: Iced tea without lemon.  Third place: Diet Coke.

What is your daily caffeine consumption like?

34 comments

1 Betty M { 01.20.14 at 8:32 am }

Double shot espresso plus foamed milk to a flat white consistency in the morning and shop bought equivalent (always inferior to husband made) at lunchtime to feel human. Possibly one more later on and espresso after dinner if it’s a night out.

2 loribeth { 01.20.14 at 8:42 am }

I am mostly a tea drinker, with the odd Starbucks latte or frappucino thrown in. I tend to have two or three teas a day at work, the size of a Starbucks grande — I pick up an English Breakfast tea at the Second Cup en route to the office (two packets of sugar & a lot of milk), a steeped tea at Tim Hortons mid-morning, and then it varies for my mid-afternoon break. I go to Starbucks 1-2 times a week in the afternoon for a black tea latte — because (a) it’s a little further to go than the other coffee shops & (b) it’s more expensive. However, they will be opening a new Starbucks soon directly downstairs from my office. I think I’m in trouble… 😉

At home on weekends, I usually have a big mug of tea in the morning, and then a tea latte at the Starbucks inside the Chapters bookstore on Saturday night (a regular ritual with us). I’ll usually make myself another cup of tea or go to Tim Hortons on Sunday afternoon.

3 A.M.S. { 01.20.14 at 9:08 am }

Out and around town, I tend to go with 12oz 2%milk lattes with one sugar because there’s never any question about how long the coffee has been sitting. I got tired of buying a cup of coffee only to have it taste like boiled tar, so I switched to espresso drinks that have to be made to order. Although, since we got an aeropress coffee maker for Christmas, I rarely get coffee out anymore. It just doesn’t taste as good as the stuff we make at home now.

Tea is my preferred nighttime unwinding drink and then it’s usually either Celestial Seasoning’s Bengal Spice with milk and honey, Irish Breakfast with milk, or Sleepytime with honey.

I almost never drink sodas…ginger ale when I’m sick and club soda if I want something fizzy…coke if I’m having rum…but I have a Southern Girl’s love of iced tea (unsweetened, no lemon please!)

4 Ellen K. { 01.20.14 at 9:11 am }

I have a mug of coffee in the morning — half caff, with flavored creamer, brewed at home, sipped while reading the newspaper with my husband, before the kids are awake. I like the taste, but mostly it’s the warmth and pleasant feeling. I almost always regret a second cup, and I can’t drink coffee after 10 am. Only that first serving does it for me — anything more gives me a headache or stomachache. For example, if I go to Panera after school dropoff at 8, I order a mug for coffee but just drink hot water with lemon. I don’t drink tea unless I am sick or have cramps, and I try not to drink much soda. Sparkling water is my beverage of choice. My daughters call it “mommy water.”

I’ve just realized how lame this seems. But [typed desperately] we do home-brew our beer!

5 Juanita { 01.20.14 at 9:17 am }

I am a coffee lover and use to have about 4 to 6 (to 8) cups per day, cappuccino and Wimpy coffee by far the favorite, but filter coffee and even instant would do as well. I like the fact that it is suppose to ward of Alzheimers and burn fat, but other that that I just like(d) coffee. I am however now 7 weeks pregnant and I cannot stand the thought of a cup of coffee. I drank maybe 4 cups in the last 3 weeks. Strangely I did not have any withdrawal symptoms – where I would usually get a nasty headache if I do not have a cup of 2 per day.

6 Rach { 01.20.14 at 9:17 am }

I’m a ‘coffee in the morning when I’m working’ kinda girl but otherwise I just have the occasional soda. I never used to be. A few cups a day weren’t enough to keep me going. But when we started TTC we were told to ditch the caffeine so we did, and with the withdrawal memories still fresh in my mind I’m hesitant to get hooked again!

7 Kasey { 01.20.14 at 9:39 am }

I’m a coffee drinker. I love it and I need it. I work 12 hour shifts and if they take my cup of coffee a day away then I will certainly lose my mind! Any given day and given study and give any given odds towards or away from the detriments or the benefits of anything in the world. While TTC and going through IVF I’ve limited my coffee and caffeine to just a cup a day I refuse to give it up. IVF is hard enough without stripping my favorite part of the morning away from me.

8 magpie { 01.20.14 at 9:48 am }

two cups of black coffee at home every morning. once in a while, a coke (the real thing, please). iced black tea in the summer, sometimes. hot green tea in the office, regularly. but the two cups of black coffee are the necessity.

9 Catwoman73 { 01.20.14 at 9:51 am }

I drank one 16oz-ish coffee per day until I had two back to back bouts of pneumonia back in November. I couldn’t stomach coffee at all while I was sick- probably because of all the antibiotics I was on. Since I have recovered, I can count on one hand how many cups of coffee I’ve had- for some reason, it just doesn’t appeal to me in the same way now. I do drink tea almost every day though- one medium-sized cup. I am happy to be less reliant on caffeine now, but getting that sick was a really tough way to kick the coffee habit- I would NOT recommend it!!!

10 Ann Zawistoski { 01.20.14 at 9:58 am }

I have come to terms with being addicted to coffee. My mom started me out on triple espressos in high school (I was never a morning person). I need the caffeine, but I love the smell and the taste and in the winter, the warmth. And I love that the man who owns the neighborhood coffee shop knows me by name and has a big smile for me when I come in (as he does for everyone, he’s very good at his job). Most of the year, we make coffee in the morning, and I drink 16 oz from my travel mug – black, no sugar. If I’m dragging at lunch, I’ll have tea. If I have to work in the evening and drive home late at night, I’ll have tea or coffee with dinner. In summer, we make big carafes of cold pressed coffee that I drink with ice and a little milk or half and half.

11 Sharon { 01.20.14 at 10:08 am }

I allow myself one 12-ounce cup of coffee each morning (with half-and-half and two Splendas). One “special occasions” I will substitute a Starbucks caffe mocha for this.

I don’t have caffeine the rest of the day unless (1) I am particularly tired (not common), and (2) have a work project that requires concentration (common, given my job). Then I’ll have a soda. . . generally diet coke or Dr Pepper.

12 a { 01.20.14 at 11:22 am }

I prefer my caffeine cold and carbonated, but pop is not good for mr, so I’m trying to cut back. I have never liked coffee, and I also can’t stand tea. Now, I get the majority of my caffeine from chocolate. 🙂

13 Nonsequiturchica { 01.20.14 at 12:58 pm }

I actually don’t consume much caffeine- and that was pre-pregnancy & now breastfeeding. If I have to I will drink a Starbucks Refresher (I hate coffee but the green coffee beans don’t have a coffee flavor) or in a pinch a soda (have tried to cut them out of my diet).

14 Laurel Regan { 01.20.14 at 1:49 pm }

I used to drink gallons of coffee, but for many years now have developed the habit of just one cup in the morning – made at home from freshly-ground beans, strong, and black. I’ll have more on occasion when I’m out – because it’s nice with dessert, or because we’re at Starbucks and I want a fancy coffee – but for the most part that one cup a day keeps the headache at bay.

15 Kimberly { 01.20.14 at 3:04 pm }

Oh caffeine, the sweet nectar of the gods. I’m not a coffee drinker unless its in a Starbucks Frap (which to many coffee drinkers probably doesn’t count) and since we finally just got our first Starbucks in our area a few months ago, is far more often than I care to admit. Otherwise, I’m a tea drinker. And most teas too. Iced tea (with lemon, please), orange pekoe primarily, green tea, and a variety of loose teas and fruit based herbal teas. I have a cupboard for my teas. I always have a cup on the go.

Pop is a special treat. Usually coke or Pepsi to go with my special treat of pizza. Otherwise, we don’t keep it in the house.

But one weird thing about me is that I drool over the smell of freshly brewed coffee but can’t drink it unless its part of my Fraps.

16 Tracie { 01.20.14 at 3:49 pm }

I love coffee, and would probably drink at least two cups a day, but my stomach does not love it the way I do, so I have to settle for only drinking it once or twice a week. I will, however, follow all those studies that say dark chocolate is good for you (while ignoring all the ones that might advise against it). Everything in moderation. That is my feeling on most food stuff…even if I don’t always follow it.

17 deathstar { 01.20.14 at 4:25 pm }

Mmm, I love my first cup of coffee in the morning the best. I rarely get to finish it though, as my 4 yr old usually gets in my face and then I’m off and running. I used to 3 cups a day, but lately it seems caffeine aggravates my already aggravated personality so I keep it down to 2 cups a day (2 Talls). Starbucks became my reason for being when I become a mother, and I always appreciate a Starbucks gift card. I too gave it up when I was trying to conceive, for all that good it did (NO). And now I have a green tea latte in the afternoons when I can sneak it in (still caffeine but not as jolt- like in effect. I dream of a robot that brings it to my bedside in the morning.

18 Guera { 01.20.14 at 5:05 pm }

I hate coffee and the smell of it. It makes me feel like I am going to gag. So you will be surprised to learn that I am now a grande, non fat latte with 3 splenda 7 mornings a week person. Like for many of us it became a habit after our daughter arrived and I had to go back to work. What once I considered a luxury and a bit foolish (spending that amount of money on milk and coffee) quickly became my link to staying sane. My local Starbucks knows my name and my drink. A fact I find embarrassing…but not enough to drive by without stopping.

19 Rachel { 01.20.14 at 5:12 pm }

I have tried to give up Diet Coke unsuccessfully about 20 times. Not to speak evil of my mom, but there is a picture of me at 2 with Diet Coke. When I was four, they went to Europe and had a babysitter try to take me off of caffeine…I cried so much she broke down. I’m sure my mom was just overwhelmed (she had 3 kids in 3 years) but I wish she had never gotten me hooked!

20 Battynurse { 01.20.14 at 8:04 pm }

Love my coffee as long as the coffe flavor isn’t too strong and it’s iced! I used to drink a lot of soda and I’ve gotten away from that but don’t see myself ever going decaf.

21 Alisa Winslow { 01.20.14 at 8:14 pm }

Decaf when between cycles, none while cycling… NOT EVEN CHOCOLATE!!!

When not TTC I drink 2 cups of regular in the morning and then none for the rest of the day. But I don’t remember when the last time was that I wasn’t TTC. Must be the lack of damn caffeine.

22 Katie { 01.20.14 at 8:46 pm }

I like weigh the potential negative effect of caffeine (on infertility) with the extreme stress/irritability without it. It’s worth it to me and my morning cup of flavored coffee on the way into work is a ritual I’d be hard pressed to give up.

23 Queenie { 01.20.14 at 9:42 pm }

I’ve gone through lots of coffee phases. It kind of depends on what my work life looks like (I need lots if I’m working lots and/or it’s stressful).. Right now, it’s calm, so I’m down to maybe a cup in the morning, which I often don’t finish. And, it depends on my health…which hasn’t been fabulous of late, so I,ve been drinking lots of tea made of fresh ginger, or at work, peppermint.

24 jjiraffe { 01.21.14 at 2:06 am }

I hate coffee, but love chai tea lattes from Peets. I have one in the morning every work day because otherwise, my brain does not work. I used to love cokes (the original – diet’s aftertaste makes me gag) but I mostly steer clear now.

My college roommate had a rule that we could not talk in the morning until she had consumed at least half a cup of coffee. Now that I’m back at work full-time, I get it.

25 Persnickety { 01.21.14 at 5:48 am }

I have one in the morning at home. Currently that is an individual filter cup ( little ceramic filter cone on my cup, with hazelnut coffee), at some point I am going to have to start using out espresso pods again. Then one more at work. I am using the work espresso machines, in a doomed attempt to save money. Also, when I was getting my 16 oz lattes from across the road, it was really noticeable when I stopped. I would rather not announce each fragile pregnancy through my coffee drinking habits, and saying I am cutting down on coffee, and not having those cups on my desk means that there is no pattern to break if I am pregnant again. I miss those coffees though…

26 So You Think Parenting Is About The Children? { 01.21.14 at 6:55 am }

I’m so not one for joining in this conversation – but I’m gonna do it anyway! I gave up coffee and Coke and all things caffeine (except the God Chocolate of course) when I was 17 and I’ve never looked back. I don’t even know why I did it but there it is.

But your post made me remember a talk I heard about being overweight. Statistics show that being overweight dramatically increases your chances of getting an assortment of life-threatening diseases, but on the whole you’ll live longer than very thin or underweight folks.
Huh?!

27 Mina { 01.21.14 at 8:56 am }

An espresso lungo in the morning, sometimes a capuccino mid morning, if. I have the time, a ristretto after lunch, when my husband is around (two times a week and during the weekend) and maybe a decaf after dinner. I used to not understand coffee, and would drink one when I was smoking just because it made a good excuse. When. I gave up smoking, coffee went away by itself.
Took up drinking coffee again and have strated to really like it after my husband talked about his love for well made coffee, and the differences between lungo, ristretto, capuccino, latte machiato, yadayada, how the perfect espresso is made from 7 grams of ground coffee, how one should choose the roast according to the type of coffee, and so much more – it is an art, honestly. I listened to him because I love him and gave him the time of day, and am really grateful, because coffee CAN be such a lovely thing, making life more beautiful.

28 Liz Self { 01.21.14 at 9:55 am }

My husband is a doc, and one of his favorite lines is, “Everything is a poison. It just depends on volume.” Chances are that a little caffeine can do a little something good, and a lot of caffeine can do a lot of bad. And like alcohol, the line between enough and too much varies for different people and cannot be clearly set forth with any confidence (statistical or otherwise).

29 It Is What It Is { 01.21.14 at 5:28 pm }

Wow, this must have struck a nerve as that’s a lot of comments.
I used to be addicted to Diet Coke as my caffeinated beverage of choice and preferred a fountain soda over ice. But, even at the height of my DC addiction, I didn’t have it every day.

I didn’t start drinking coffee, daily, until last year, after the baby was born and I needed the help to get my day going after sleepless nights and post partum depression. Prior to that, I viewed my iced coffees as a treat, and maybe had 3-4/wk.

In short, I broke up with Diet Coke in favor of one, homemade iced coffee (I eschew hot beverages) every day. I make a SB Via (either House Blend or Colombia) and stretch it to 12 oz, and take it with Natual Bliss Vanilla creamer. That’s it. No ups, no extras.

Just writing this has made me crave one, thanks.

30 Lori Lavender Luz { 01.21.14 at 8:03 pm }

Our french press makes 3 big-mugs ful. So I get 1.5 of them.

I pay attention only to the studies that justify my level of consumption. Because I’m filtery like that.

31 Mali { 01.21.14 at 10:39 pm }

I like the idea that caffeine might help memory (I have a half-drafted post on memory for my everyday blog – A Separate Life). I don’t like the other suggestions! Everything in moderation?

I like coffee. But my husband doesn’t. (As a result, I actually drank less coffee in Italy over three months than I had for years!) DH can’t abide it, or the smell, so we don’t have an espresso machine. I don’t like filter coffee, so generally only drink it at a cafe. And these days I’m trying to save money (it’s scary to calculate how much you spend on coffee a year), so I’m having a cup maybe three-four times a week. I rarely have more than one a day.

I like a double shot flat white (not as milky as a latte or cappuccino) when I do drink coffee, and I definitely feel it. The problem with regular consumption is that the advantageous effects of caffeine are reduced the more you drink. So, as with any addiction, you need more and more to get the same results.

I drink green tea, and the occasional Earl Grey tea with milk. My husband brings me a cup of tea in bed on the weekends, which is a nice start to the day.

I never drink Coke. Ugh.

32 Tiara { 01.22.14 at 1:20 pm }

Hi, my name is Tara & I am a caffeine addict. Lol! But I don’t drink coffee…well unless you include the odd Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte with a shot of caramel, delish!! My caffeine of choice is Coke Zero. While TTC, I reduced myself down to 2 cans a day. After miscarrying & reading that caffeine can cause it, I got completely off of it before trying again then stayed off it while nursing…once E weaned, it hit me, “I can have caffeine again!!” Now on a good day, I try to stay under 3 cans a day…but I just realize that I’m not even counting my morning Lady Grey, oops…that’s the addict in me I guess, deny, deny deny…lol!

33 Smallstones { 01.22.14 at 3:23 pm }

I love my cup of morning joe and my afternoon tea! They are my comforts and yet I go back and forth because of ongoing infertility and ART procedures. We just had another disappointment and the first thing I did was consume caffeine and have so enjoyed my daily cup of coffee in the weeks since. I’m about to go off of them again since we will start again soon. I don’t like feeling the guilt. Maybe the fact that I keep returning back to my caffeine is why we keep having the disappointments? And yet, I can’t seem to resist!

34 Geochick { 01.23.14 at 1:35 pm }

I love me some caffeine. I usually have 12 oz of French press with milk. Try to switch to tea in afternoons, but sometimes, just want a nice Americano. Mmmm, sounds good on this frigid day!

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