According to legend, a goat herder named Kaldi in Ethiopia 1,000 years ago noticed his flock nibbling berries from a certain bush. They soon started to hop and sprint tirelessly. His curiosity led him to sample some himself, allowing him to catch mankind’s first buzz off the coffee bean.Nothing had ever made him so happy! However, the local religious leader was not inclined to allow Kaldi such euphoria, and so he instructed him to stop. Hence, the beginning of man kinds obsession with caffeine. It is by far the most frequently used psychoactive drug in the world, but it is not regulated in the U.S. Over the years there have been a myriad of reports on the possible side effects of caffeine both positive and negative. Some research touts the benefits of increased mental alertness from three or four cups a day. Another will denounce the former and make us feel that we should remove the need for caffeine in order to not become a slave to its ability to spike our moods and our energy. Unfortunately, our culture has a need to take most things to extreme. Coffee in it’s original form has become mundane. If you decide to buy a cup of coffee now you are faced with a blackboard that has more combinations then most safes. Lattes, Cappocinnos, Frappocinnos, expresso shots, and swirls of cream, caramel or chocolate as toppings are just the tip of the iceberg. When I finally choose a drink, I’m often left wondering if I’ve missed out. Maybe I should have gotten the Belgian Brûlée double Mocha with salted marshmallows that the woman in front of me ordered. If that’s not enough, you can buy energy drinks loaded with caffeine that could turn you into a whirling dervish.Red Bull,Monster, and 5-hour Energy have up to 200 milligrams of caffeine per serving. The FDA is investigating five deaths possibly related to energy drinks. Could someone die from too much caffeine? The answer is yes. Especially if they have medical problems. Even if you’re a relatively healthy person you may want to consider the old adage “that less is more” But that means that common sense would have to be utilized and it along with a lot of other values are becoming less a part of our lives. The fact of the matter is that most of our energy comes from a balanced lifestyle. I don’t think too may people are “buying” the concept!
In the last several weeks there has been a great deal of controversy over Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to prohibit the sale of sugary drinks greater than sixteen ounces. The reason being that many individuals in the world of nutrition have targeted sugar as the anti-Christ that is behind the obesity epidemic. Do I think drinking a calorie laden beverage loaded with sugar is healthy? No, I don’t, but what I find ridiculous is that Bloomberg and others who are in agreement with his plan are opening Pandora’s box. Where will it end? Is a double cheeseburger topped with bacon and a side order of large fries any less problematic? And what about the portions served in restaurants across America that could feed a small village? I have ordered a plate of spaghetti that I ended up eating over a three-day period. Who is going to be the watch dog over the goodies sold at movie theaters? If you try to buy a small soda and popcorn you are actually charged more money. You get perks for purchasing a vat of popcorn and a giant coke that could double as a kiddie pool.
What I find interesting is that there is no discussion on the fact that obesity is not simply about curtailing an individuals’ intake of sugary liquids. The fact of the matter is that over the years our society has become invested in eating mindlessly. People eat while their driving, while they’re talking on their cell phones, even while their walking down the street. I’m sure we’re going to see the day when they put microwaves and pizza ovens in cars. We have also become invested in “more is better” in all areas of our lives. This type of mindset creates stress which leads to overeating as a way to comfort ourselves. Our days are filled with trying to connect through gadgets that simply increase feelings of isolation. Food is sandwiched in-between the busyness that has become a way of life, rather than taking the time to cook, savor and share with friends and family. Until we are able to see the whole picture as the realty of an unbalanced lifestyle, we will continue to try to find the obesity culprit. Perhaps we should also consider the fact that encouraging accountability for ones’ behavior is one of the most important values we can teach beginning at a very young age. If I can’t develop the ability to self regulate my emotions and be accountable for what I choose to value than we will have no choice but to be at the mercy of other people’s dictates.