I Have a Confession
I have an embarrassing confession. I do not drink alcohol, but in high school (completely clueless about what I was doing), I would justify drinking caffeine instead. It was my silly attempt to fit in with a group of under-aged drinkers. They all knew when I brought out my caffeinated beverage, I was in “party mode.” My 17-year-old mind rationalized this action because, to me, caffeine was “legal” and less toxic to my body. Many people might agree with my logic, but the only problem was I wasn’t casually sipping on a cup of hot tea.
I grew up in a town outside of Portland, OR, and graduated from high school in 2001, right around the time Red Bull became popular. I remember at some point toward the end of senior year, a large group of senior girls--me included-- thought it would be fun to go on a camping trip in the middle of a cow pasture. I have no idea where this pasture was, but our makeshift campground was surrounded by cows, lots of them. Our high school camping trips always screamed, “Time to Party!” So accordingly, I decided instead of beer, I would drink Red Bull. Knowing this outing would be our last big camping trip of the year, I packed six Red Bulls in a cooler. At sunset, people started drinking their beverage of choice, so I decided to crack open my first Red Bull. Long story short and six Red Bulls later, everyone was passed out asleep, and I was wide awake. The ridiculous amount of caffeine I ingested almost triggered a panic attack. I freaked with every sound the cows made as they walked through the tall, dry grass. All night long, I watched the moon as my heart raced and my eyes remained wide open.
Although embarrassed to admit my ridiculous decision to OD on caffeine that night, the experience made me vow to stay off Red Bull. (To be honest, I did have some Red Bull moments in college.) Since then, however, I have tried to limit caffeine as much as possible. My two pregnancies have caused me to seriously reflect on what I eat and drink. As far as healthy caffeinated beverages go, these are my recommendations:
Don’t Drink at all
(As a Mormon, I choose not to drink coffee or black tea.)
Try to Never Drink these “liquid poisons”:
Being pregnant with my daughter, breastfeeding, and now expecting a little boy, I have become extremely conscious of my caffeine intake. I find it surprising that the American Association of Pregnancy suggests limiting caffeine to 200 mg a day, an amount that seems high to me. With that being said, I always stay under that recommended allotment and set my own limit at 100-150mgs. I also pay attention to the type of caffeinated drink. I would never drink an energy drink, and I avoid soda. Therefore, this week, I was excited to do more research on Yerba Mate. I was pleasantly surprised to find out, in addition to the caffeine boost, Yerba Mate has tons of other health benefits.
A part of me still thinks relying on caffeine at all for a boost during the day isn’t the best habit. Ultimately, if I could gain my energy from a good night’s sleep and nutritious food choices, I would consider it an accomplishment. More on this week's #bebetter52 challenge to drink Yerba Mate.