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The answer: it depends.
I sound like a broken record because this is my answer to many questions. In nutrition school, we learned one person’s food is another person’s poison. Well, caffeine is no different.
I often joke I’m like a canary in a coal mine. I’m super sensitive to things like sugar, chemicals, and yes, caffeine. The thing is…I LOVE coffee. Everything about it appeals to me, from the ritual, the smell and the taste. I like it in brownies and chocolate, as an ice cream flavor and most definitely as a morning drink. And it contains caffeine. The other thing is I LOVE chocolate…and it also contains caffeine.
why is that good or bad?
Number one, caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can mess with sleep. For some, it can make us anxious. On the other hand, caffeine is a natural way to up our energy, and studies show it has other health benefits as well. In addition, many caffeine sources (like coffee, tea and chocolate) contain antioxidants, which are like little illness fighting warriors for your body.
I have this rule though, which is that wellness should not get in the way of happiness.
How much is the right amount?
That’s up to you (I told you I sound like a broken record). If you tune into your body, it’ll tell you what’s enough, whether that’s four cups of coffee or zero. If you’re jittery, anxious, unable to sleep…it’s likely too much.
Since I’m so caffeine sensitive, I have to be mindful of the amount and time of day I consume it. If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, note how much caffeine you are having and when. Keep in mind caffeine is not only in coffee and chocolate but also tea, kombucha, etc. For me, when I switched from a French press coffee to an Americano (espresso with hot water), this made a huge difference in my sleep. This is because a shot of espresso has less caffeine than a typical cup of coffee. Having my daily dose of dark chocolate after lunch instead of dinner also helped.
One last note
Whenever possible, try to get organic, fair-trade coffee. One of the most heavily chemically treated crops on the planet is conventional coffee.