How To Tell If You're A Coffeeholic

How To Tell If You're A Coffeeholic

It's time to face the facts, coffee lovers.
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According to a survey of Zagat readers in 2014, 87 percent of Americans drank coffee every day. Those surveyed drank, on average, 2.3 cups of coffee a day. If you drink more than this, as I usually do, you just might be verging on the sacred title of coffeeholic.

Now, I know what you're thinking. There's no way I could be drinking too much coffee. Four cups before noon is just how I roll!

Trust me: I'm thinking the exact same thing.

As I write this article, I'm actually hopped up on delicious java, courtesy of my school's coffee machine in the cafeteria. (Tragically, my Keurig hasn't been working properly since the end of last semester.) So I understand your daily pain of getting out of bed and rushing to get that first cup of coffee before class or work. It's a ritual for which I hold the utmost respect. But as I've been consuming more and more coffee as my workload drastically increases -- hello, two essays, two projects, one presentation and one short story due by the beginning of May! -- I've begun to wonder whether the amount of coffee I drink is simply too much. Writing this article is a way to not only help myself become more educated about the (is it even possible?) harmful effects of drinking too much coffee, but also to help all of us understand when it's time to cut back for our own health's sake.

How much coffee is too much?

In college, students learn to survive on coffee to balance out the fact that we've only gotten three or four hours of sleep the previous night, thanks to whatever studying or homework needed to be done. Or maybe we finally just relaxed and didn't realize how late it was until we remembered our 8 a.m. class the next day. Whatever it may be, students adapt to a need for coffee just to stay awake throughout the day. I, personally, find that I need at least one nap on days that I have an 8 a.m. class, sometimes two. And that's after I've already had about three or four cups of coffee in the morning, which are usually followed by about two more in the afternoon and evening while I work on homework.

According to the Mayo Clinic, up to about four 8-ounce cups of coffee a day is safe for adults. Any more than that and there can be side effects, which include but are not limited to insomnia, restlessness, stomach upset, and irritability. (That last one is fairly ironic since most of us are already just as irritable before our coffee.) It's important to keep in mind that most coffee cups -- whether at a coffee shop, Starbucks, or your own home mugs -- are often either 12, 16, or 20 ounces If you drink two 16-ounce cups, you're drinking your maximum for the day, even though you might not realize it.

The other day, I made the questionable life choice of drinking seven shots of espresso. Even though I'd eaten, I felt so sick since I haven't had that much espresso in several months. My body isn't accustomed to much more than black coffee, and I worried whether I would ever be able to sleep again. I could feel my heart beating in my chest at what seemed like the speed of light, but when I checked my pulse it seemed perfectly normal -- I was just so jittery I couldn't think straight.

One 8-ounce cup of coffee has 95 milligrams of caffeine, while one 1-ounce shot of espresso has 64 milligrams. This means that the daily maximum of caffeine one should intake is about 380 mg. When I had seven shots of espresso, though, I had about 448 mg. It's no wonder I was feeling sick and couldn't concentrate. A caffeine overdose is about 500 mg of coffee. Thinking back on it now, I realize that I was one shot of espresso away from officially overdosing on coffee -- but the scariest part is, I've had eight shots of espresso before, so about 512 mg of caffeine, and I felt relatively fine. My tolerance just a few months ago was much higher, and I rarely stopped when I hit 380 mg of caffeine; I didn't even realize eight shots was too much. I just needed my coffee.

When should I stop drinking coffee for the day?

The half-life of caffeine is around four to six hours, so it is suggested to stop drinking coffee about six hours before bedtime. Coffee, and caffeine in general, can affect the body by prolonging sleep latency, shortening total sleep time, increasing light sleep while shortening deep sleep time, and causing more frequent awakenings. Generally, many people choose to stop drinking coffee after noon, but you can stretch it out just a few hours, depending on what time you typically go to sleep. But beware: even decaf still has a little bit of caffeine they just can't get out.


It's also important to think about how much sugar you're intaking if you get lots of fancy drinks from Starbucks or take your coffee with three sugars. Luckily, I drink mine black, so I don't have to worry about unwanted calories and sugars -- but if you're not like me, then you should.

You can actually track how long caffeine will be in your system with caffeine-tracking apps for your phone. For example, Caffeine Zone 2, developed at Penn State, takes into account the specific coffee you're drinking, how quickly you drink it, etc. Apps like these can help you regulate that your coffee drinking does not cause you to have more than the recommended 380 mg of caffeine in your system at any point.

I'm not even going to verge on the subject of coffee addiction, because I'd rather not know whether it's applicable to me. If you'd like some information on it, though, you can find that here. From what I skimmed of that article, headaches are a symptom of caffeine withdrawal -- but since I've had chronic migraines for years, I may continue to live in denial of any coffee addiction.

If you want to be reassured that your own possible coffee addiction is justified, a study done last year is here to save the day. When looking at coffee consumption among nonsmokers who drink between one and three cups a day, they have a 6 to 8 percent lower risk of dying than non-coffee drinkers. Those who drink between three and five cups a day -- regardless of the symptoms that much coffee might give you -- have a 12 to 15 percent lower risk of dying. In the end, it might just be that us coffeeholics will outlive non-coffee drinkers -- unless, of course, there's a coffee shortage that rolls around first.

Cover Image Credit: www.mindthegraph.com

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Your Health Journey Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Perfection takes time.

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When you first start to do something, you have all of the motivation in the world to accomplish that goal set out in front of you, especially when it comes to being healthier. The problem is as you continue through this journey and food and laziness kick in, motivation slips. It's human, and it happens to everyone no matter how physically strong they are.

Trying to be healthier doesn't always mean losing weight. It can be so your knees don't ache as much, so you don't feel as out of breath climbing stairs, or any goal you have set for yourself. Being healthier is personal and different from person to person.

I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of changes I would love to make about myself. From my weight to my body type and many other things about myself inside and out. I am by no means the most confident person about how I look, but I have worked hard for the past year to be an overall healthier person.

Becoming healthier isn't about looking thinner or fitting into a specific size of clothes. It is about taking care of yourself from eating better to working out more. There comes a feeling of confidence in what your body can do if you put a little love in it.

Perfection takes time, and I know firsthand how frustrating trying to be healthier can be.

Pizza tastes so much better than salad. It is so easy to fall into a rhythm of something that seems never to change whether that is your weight or your mile time. Sadly, you can't build a city, or become healthier overnight.

We see people who are thinner, curvier, smarter, faster, and so much more than us. We all waste time comparing ourselves to people around us and on our timelines, but some of our biggest strengths are our individuality and the gift of getting back up after falling down.

All I can say is, please don't give up on your goal of being healthier because this is solely for you. We can have a great support system in the world and have everyone in our corner, but that isn't enough.

You need yourself. You need to know that if you don't entirely put yourself in this journey, then you won't fully succeed. Your commitment to bettering yourself can keep you going even if you want to give up.

Your motivation may not be at its peak level right now, and you may have every cell in your body screaming at you to quit. Don't do it. Prove to yourself that you can keep going no matter what. Not giving up will be worth it. The results and taking the hard way will make you a stronger person inside and out.

You can do this. You can do anything you want to accomplish if you just believe in yourself. You need to understand that becoming healthier takes endurance. There will be periods where you slow down and may not be going at your fastest pace. The difference is that you are not giving up and you are still trying and moving.

Don't treat becoming healthier as a sprint: short term and quick. That mentality will only leave you feeling deflated and defeated. It is a life-long marathon of pacing yourself and pushing yourself further than ever before.

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