Tuesday, 26 February 2013


 All my clothes appear to have shrunk in the wash!  Obviously I need a new wardrobe OR a differently shaped body.  Yesterday I decided to quit moaning and actually DO something about it so the diet began.  Fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast; egg for lunch and moussaka for dinner.  I drank plenty of water and apple juice but no tea or coffee.  By nine thirty I had the worst headache ever!  I went to bed with a couple of pills and promptly threw up!  Brilliant for the diet I suppose but NOT something I wish to repeat.  Today I had my usual caffeine fix and feel just fine.

So what is this stuff I can’t live without?

It really isn’t very pleasant stuff! Apparently tea, coffee and cocoa plants produce caffeine to act as a pesticide which paralyses and kills certain insects once they have eaten the leaves.   Scientists have found high levels of caffeine in the soil around coffee plants as it also inhibits seed germination too close to the mature plant.  Doesn’t sound like the sort of thing you want in a healthy diet!

We all know it is in tea, coffee, coke and, to a small extent, chocolate.  We know it acts as a mild stimulant to ward off drowsiness, giving us improved mental focus and co-ordination.  We know it produces these effects quite quickly and wears off within a few hours .... but is it any good for us?

Scientists have carried out numerous studies involving thousands of people and discovered no significant relationship between caffeine and cancer – in fact coffee can protect us against some cancers.  Although caffeine does raise your heart rate and blood pressure there is no risk to people with a healthy heart (but you need to be careful if you suffer from high blood pressure).  High caffeine intake can lead to an increased loss of calcium in the urine but this can be offset by adding two tablespoons of milk to each cup of coffee.  Some evidence suggests it reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes: some asthma sufferers find caffeine relieves the attacks and a French study showed women who drink coffee had better cognitive ability in old age than non-drinkers. Because it has a modest effect on your metabolism caffeine is one of the ingedients in some weight loss pills.  It acts as a mild diuretic and it can suppress appetite but in reality the effects are very small and insignificant - I was hoping to find a different conclusion here - a tea/coffee/chocolate diet sounds quite nice!
Not all bad then if taken in moderation.  A moderate amount of caffeine is about 300 milligrams a day. 

Here is a rough guide to help you work out your intake:

One can of cola:  80 mg
One cup of tea:    75mg
One cup of instant coffee:  100mg
One cup of filter coffee:     140mg
One can of energy drink:     80mg
One 50g bar milk chocolate:   25mg
One 50g bar dark chocolate:   50mg
I was aware that some people can become addicted to caffeine but I didn’t realise I was one of them.  After working out my daily intake I can understand why the withdrawal symptoms were so painful after only one day!

People have enjoyed tea since about 3000BC when the Chinese used it as a restorative drink. 
Coffee came from Ethiopia (around the ninth century AD).  One legend has it that a goat herder named Kaldi realised his animals were far more activate after eating coffee plants so tried it himself. 
It reached Europe sometime in the 17th century: the first English coffee house opened in Oxford in 1650 and played an important part in some social reforms ... strange to think that nowadays we are signing petitions against Starbucks and Costa invading our high streets!


  1. My wife had to give up real coffee because of digestive problems. She had been a real coffee fiend, but now drinks only decaf. The transition was a little difficult, but brief. She has comfortably kicked the caffeine habit.

    Perplexed as to why you were so quick to dismiss the option of an all-new wardrobe - or maybe a new washing machine would solve the problem of the shrinking clothes.

  2. Patricia - clothes shrinking....I've a similar problem...lol!
    I get my caffeine fix via soft drinks and yes I'm addicted too - although to date, I haven't tried doing without - I know I get agitated if there is none in the fridge!!
    Good luck with the diet and perhaps the solution is to wean yourself off.

  3. I recently realised how addicted I was to coffee when thinking of giving something up for Lent. Chocolate, cake or Twitter were fine, but coffee ...? Never!

    Good luck with the .. er .. wardrobe readjustment

  4. I agree with all the comments above. Except that I cannot give up coffee or chocolate for Lent. It just made me a crabby, ornery person for weeks on end and wasn't worth it. ;-) Plus, as you mention, coffee (and chocolate) in moderation are good for us. Anyway, coffee (and a touch of chocolate) isn't terribly caloric. Good luck!

  5. Quite a symptons you got ! I've decreased my amount of coffee, I drink it only in afternoons. When I had breast cancer 4 years ago, I started to drink green tea (which prevents cancer, as well as dark chocolate, which was much easier learn to eat). First I didn't like green tea very much, but now I do, and I've found many different flavours. I think I've read that green tea helps also in weight control. I hope you'll succeed !

  6. I'm a tea person myself, never touch coffee. Anyway I hope you are feeling better. I prefer a sea food diet really. I see food and eat it.