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Do you have a coffee habit?

I know that I will be unpopular with some of you now, I am fully aware how attached you may be to your flat white or morning macchiato.

The thing is, for many of you, this reliance on a morning coffee and feeling like you NEED a trip to the café for your caffeine fix has become a habit. The same goes for days when you may have meeting after meeting or catch-up after catch-up and end up three or four coffees down by the middle of the afternoon.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the odd coffee. But the issue I have here is the habit and routine reliance on it – it’s not a good way to go. Coffees made with milk add kJ to your day for starters. Your average (300ml latte) made with normal blue-top milk is 800kJ (200kcal), with trim milk it’s 540kJ (135kcal). If it was one small trim per day, or every other day, it wouldn’t be so bad – but if it’s a super regular thing it’s highly likely you will be consuming a lot of your kJ/kcal on coffee, which really needs to be spent on other good quality, nutrition packed foods or just plain low-fat milk minus the coffee!

You may think swapping to long blacks or black coffee is the answer, and in part I guess it may be – at least you don’t have the kJ. But this does raise another issue – the impact of caffeine on your body. While it does indeed act as a nervous stimulant and may for some help boost concentration, your body adapts to caffeine and over time you will need more and more to get the same effect. The other thing is, as discussed in detail in Lose Weight for Life, caffeine stays in your system for a really long time and can disrupt your sleep. You may be able to go to bed after a coffee (or tea for that matter) and feel like it doesn’t stop you going to sleep, which it might not – but it will be affecting the quality of your sleep and will result in you waking up feeling tired and not well rested. (For more on this, check out my book where all this is discussed in greater detail!)

On top of this, MANY people tell me they have a coffee for breakfast (and that is it – no nutrition packed foods in sight) and then there are those who routinely end up with a muffin (let’s be honest, it’s a cake in a different shape) or some other sweet treat to start off their day alongside their coffee – which is not ideal by any means.

Don’t get me wrong, if you have the odd trim coffee a few times a week and really enjoy it, this might be fine for you. But if you are truly and deeply honest with yourself, is this a daily habit for you that needs addressing?! A coffee habit could be one of the things leading you away from your goal to be healthier and feel better!

How you can break your habit…

Rather than heading into the coffee shop in the morning, at home or work, make yourself a cup of tea (less caffeine and no kJ), herbal tea or even better have hot water with a few slices of lemon or springs of mint. I know, I know, I’m not stupid, it’s not the same as a flat white fix. But when you make this your normal routine, after a few weeks you will get used to it and wonder how and why you ever used to drink so much coffee – it is just about creating a new ‘normal’.

If you are in meetings, order a pot of herbal tea – make it your ‘new normal’. You have the power to choose if you want to. If you are in a routine where someone else will automatically buy you a coffee and have it on the table before you arrive, it will just take you a few times to help them make a change and order you something different. For goodness sake, don’t drink endless coffees just because that’s what everyone else does, that’s dumb and not helping you. You are your own person remember – avoid the trap of doing things just because everyone else is doing them.

If picking up a coffee is part of your morning routine, change your routine: drive a different way to work if you need to; try to avoid walking past the coffee cart if that’s possible by coming into the office a different way. And find something else to do to help you mentally focus and start the day in a better way. Try taking 10 slow deep breaths at some point on your way to work or when you get to your desk. Think about your day ahead and come up with an ‘intention’ for the day like ‘be focused’, ‘be productive’ or ‘take one thing at a time’ and write it on a post-it note and stick it somewhere that you can see it.

These are things I do to start my day, you can do what you like, however silly or ridiculous it seems. But find something which helps you start the day in a positive way, without needing to rely on a trip to the coffee counter to help you get into a good head space. It is just a habit you have got into, and if you want to, you can change it.

For more on coffee, sleep and managing your waistline – grab yourself a copy of Lose Weight for Life.

Love, Claire x

Claire Turnbull, BSc (Hons) Dietetics UK, NZ-registered nutritionist. Managing director of Mission Nutrition, and Healthy Food Guide nutritionist.

First published: Jun 2014
Last updated: April 3 2017
Last science review: October 10 2016



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