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hiba coffeecup 500

By Hiba Giacoletto, Healthwise

There are few foods or drinks more imbued with memories and sensuality than coffee.

Which often brings up this question: Is coffee healthy?

As a Food Coach, my usual response to that question with any food or drink is: It depends - and it is no different with coffee.

Coffee is a great illustration of how nutritional research reveals both sides of a food or drink.

On the plus side…
Coffee has been shown to increase alertness, improve mood and energy, concentration and even athletic performance. It is also a great source of antioxidants and has even been shown to help prevent disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

On the not so sunny side…
Coffee has been shown to increase blood pressure, increases stress response in the body, spike blood sugar levels, can exacerbate gastro-intestinal problems, inhibits the absorption of nutrients, increases the risk of urinary and prostate problems in men and hormone-related problems with women such as PMS.

My own relationship to coffee:
I used to be a real coffee addict, downing 4 cups a day.

I was the typical office employee, heading to the Nespresso machine as soon as I got in, then taking a few more coffee-infused breaks during the day.

I then started noticing some hormonal issues and decided to experiment with cutting down on my coffee consumption.

I started small, simply replacing my morning coffee with a herbal tea.

Once this became a habit, I replaced another of my daily cups with a herbal tea. I actually bought a whole bunch of cool herbal teas to make this new habit more exciting.

I kept going until there were days when I no longer drank coffee in the office and kept it only for when I went to see clients (they had better coffee) or for weekends.

Above all, what I think worked really well is this: I made a deal with myself to make coffee a moment of absolute pleasure – not just a habit or something I did to get a caffeine hit. I didn’t like the idea of being addicted to anything, so I wanted to turn my coffee addiction into a coffee love affair.

This was a few years ago, and I can safely say that I am no longer addicted to coffee…and I still love it. I have about one coffee a day, sometimes two on holiday or during the weekend and I can sometimes go for a few days without if I am not in a context that offers great coffee. I also upgraded on quality and wanted to share my favorite places for coffee in Geneva (below).

As the research above shows, coffee is neither black nor white. As always, your body is the only true authority on the subject, so why not try experimenting with reducing your coffee consumption to see how you feel? Experiment with how much coffee works for you - and try to make your coffee moment one filled with pleasure and the best quality coffee you can find.

Here are my favorite places for coffee in Geneva:
Le Boréal http://www.borealcoffee.ch
Le Fix http://www.lefix.ch
Birdie Coffee http://www.birdiecoffee.com
Globus (on the main shopping street) - the Italian coffee part in the middle of the food court

Some Tips for Moving from Coffee Addiction to a Coffee Love Affair
- Do not quit cold turkey. Start by reducing your intake very slowly, otherwise you can have caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches. Caffeine addiction is real!

- Focus on what you are replacing your coffee with instead of the coffee you are removing. This could be herbal tea or green tea (which still has caffeine but less than coffee) or even a chicory-based drink that smells and tastes quite similar to coffee.

- When you are tempted to have a coffee, ask yourself: Do I really feel like having a coffee right now or is it just a habit or an excuse to take a break? Try to have coffee only when it is pure pleasure.

- Upgrade on quality. If you are making it at home, buy the best quality coffee you can find. You can even buy whole coffee beans and grind them yourself. If you are having coffee away from home, only drink the best quality you can find.

- Try to avoid overly sugary, milky coffee drinks à la Starbucks Caramel Macchiato or Frappucino. A tall soy milk Caramel Macchiato (the smallest size) which sounds harmless enough actually has 24g of sugar – the equivalent of 8 cubes of sugar!

- If you add sugar to your coffee, use real sugar, not aspartame which is even worse. Even better, try adding half a teaspoon less of sugar until you can have your coffee without sugar.

- It is better to avoid drinking coffee first thing in the morning on an empty stomach as this stresses the body and spikes blood sugar levels. If you need your morning coffee, have breakfast first.

- Coffee spikes blood sugar, so in general, it is best to avoid having it on an empty stomach. The best time of day to have coffee seems to be after lunch.

- Some people are extremely sensitive to caffeine and having coffee or even chocolate late in the afternoon can affect sleep.

Author's bio

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Hiba Giacoletto is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) with a Masters Degree in Psychology

Hiba helps people lose weight, feel more energetic or take control of their eating without diets or deprivation. She believes that no one way of eating or living works for everyone and that it is about experimenting to find what truly works for you. She uses a unique blend of NUTRITION + PSYCHOLOGY + COACHING to help people start trusting their body's wisdom to make food and lifestyle choices that enable them to look and feel their best. She is convinced that regardless of what you might have tried in the past, she can help you get unstuck, overcome self-sabotage behavior and find your mojo!

You can book a FREE 45 minute Health Chat via her website, www.healthwise.ch to find out whether Health Coaching is right for you.

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