I love coffee. It’s the first thing I have every morning, and I usually drink several cups a day.
I try to be relatively healthy and watch what I eat and drink, but I know that caffeine isn’t the greatest. For those who are trying to make sure they’re as healthy as possible but still need that caffeine buzz, there are some things you can do to make it healthier.
1. Avoid processed coffees
It’s very easy to head to the drive-thru and order a 20-ounce blended coffee that is chock full of artificial colors, flavored syrups, and calories. I once saw a report that likened a frappuccino to a “Big Mac in a cup.”
Instead. make your coffee yourself, that way you know exactly what’s in it. This will also save you money: a bag of coffee costs roughly the same as one or two store coffees, depending on what brand of coffee you buy.
2. Swear off sweeteners
I admit it: I can’t drink my coffee black. I have to have one or two scoops of raw sugar. But I avoid processed sugars, creamers, and milk. I do add two dashes of cinnamon to my grounds, because I like the taste and cinnamon is really good for you.
Coffee itself isn’t that bad for us; it’s all of the other stuff we put into it that trips us up. Raw sugar or Stevia are good sweeteners that are good for our bodies, and you can get extra flavor that’s healthy by adding spices like cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder.
Ginger and nutmeg are also good in coffee: add them with the cinnamon to make a homemade “allspice.” Also, add a few drops of vanilla extract to the cup for extra tastiness.
There’s a lot of debate about adding milk to coffee. My suggestion? If you’re going with cow’s milk, opt for full fat instead of skim or 2%. It might sound counterintuitive, but full-fat milk is less processed.
Always buy organic cow’s milk. Alternatives to cow’s milk include almond milk, coconut milk, and rice milk, but avoid soy milk or any soy products. Also, if it’s available, goat’s milk is a sweeter option, though it has a distinct flavor that not everyone loves.
4. Buy higher-quality coffee
If you’re not wasting money at coffee chains, you can afford to buy a higher-quality coffee. Try for organic if you can, and find a roast you like. Higher-quality coffees are still not particularly expensive, and they will help keep your morning cup of joe from ruining your healthy lifestyle.
5. Mix with green tea
This probably sounds a little strange, but hear me out. We all know that green tea is great for us, but having tea in the morning just doesn’t quite compare to a cup of coffee.
Try mixing some loose green tea into your coffee grounds, a little bit at a time. It won’t significantly affect the taste, but it will add some health benefits.
Although the term “half-caf” is usually one that’s associated with obnoxious orders at a coffee chain, the idea is solid. Mix regular and decaf coffee grounds to deliver the caffeine to your body in a more subtle way. This way, you’ll get to drink more cups of coffee in the morning.
7. Keep it to the mornings
Let’s not forget that coffee is a stimulant. Try to avoid drinking caffeine after 2 PM. This will help your body establish a good sleep schedule and won’t keep you up late at night.
Later in the day, replace those drinks with water or un-caffeinated teas. Mornings are the kick-off to the day, and it’s up to you to set the day up correctly.
Start with healthy breakfasts that will give you sustained energy, take your own healthy lunch and snacks, and plan for a dinner that incorporates lots of fresh vegetables.
Fruits make great desserts, and if you’re craving something sweet, opt for dark chocolate in limited quantities. But remember to take some deep breaths in the mornings and stop to smell the coffee.