Friday, July 02, 2010

The Decaf Dilemma

By Jess Hodges

It's one of those petty little quirks of human nature that we often take a dislike to people who are healthier than us. If you are a smoker than non-smokers can be incredibly annoying, if you drink them why would anyone go tee total? Maybe you could stand to lose a bit of weight? Don't you just hate joggers? Right at the very bottom of the pile along with people who run marathons and those lunatics who actually enjoy wheat grass juice are those of us who don't drink caffeine.

I switched to decaf a couple of years ago when I realised I'd gotten up to at least ten cups of coffee a day and was having pretty serious withdrawal whenever I tried to go without it. Since then I'm sleeping easier, have more energy and am generally a happier, healthier person. So why am I not shouting from the rooftops about this fabulous, simple, miracle cure for all ills? Because it really irritates people off, that's why! Next time someone offers you a tea or coffee ask if they have anything decaf, just to see the reaction. I've started telling people I have a caffeine allergy just to stop the eye rolling!

Caffeine is a naturally occurring drug which has a distinctive bitter flavour, plants use it as a natural pesticide to kill the insects which eat their leaves. It acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and can increase alertness and reduce the feelings of tiredness but these effects will lessen over time as the body builds up a caffeine tolerance. Effects of caffeine withdrawal can include headaches, nausea, insomnia and stomach pains. It can induce sleep and anxiety disorders and has been shown to have both positive and negative effects on memory and learning.

So why are people so defensive about caffeine that I'm having to make up imaginary allergies as an excuse for avoiding all these side effects? Could it be the nagging idea that they could stand to cut back a bit?

So here's my challenge for you all, go one day without caffeine and see how you feel. If all hell breaks lose then maybe it's time for a change. If not then maybe you'll at least gain some sympathy for those of us who must live as hot beverage pariahs!