It’s 7:00am and your daughter has just downed her first cup of coffee of the day before dashing off to school. At lunch, she may have a couple of diet cokes to finish off her meal and her after school plans include a dose of diet coke and chocolate. Then, she’ll sneak in a couple more diet colas and coffee after dinner and call it a night – that is, if she can actually sleep after ingesting so much caffeine!
This scenario is pretty typical for lots of teens trying to force themselves to stay awake after late nights spent texting on the web, cramming for tests, and chatting with their boyfriends. While drinking caffeine in moderation is alright, too much of it can be harmful.
While there have been no definitive studies completed on the effects of caffeine and teens, one thing is for certain – caffeine is a highly addictive drug that can have a lifelong impact when taken in large dosages. It can cause insomnia, the ‘jitters’ (when taken in large doses, the jitters can include anxiety, fidgetiness, and headaches), and even osteoporosis (girls often substitute cola or coffee for milk which can have an effect on bones over time). And with the advent and popularity of coffee houses like Starbucks and Caribou Coffee, there is ample opportunity to take caffeine in high dosages. One cup of coffee contains up to 5 times the amount of caffeine as soda. So, help your daughter cut back when she’s young, so she won’t feel the repercussions of too much caffeine as she gets older.
Four Ways to Help Her Cut Back:
- Decrease slowly. Limit the amount of caffeine per day, especially if your daughter has been drinking large amounts. The best way to kick the habit is too take baby steps. Maybe she can continue to have a cup of coffee before school, but skip the coffee in the evening.
- Substitute wisely. In place of soda or coffee try substituting something nutritional like milk or water. Even juices is a better alternative than soda or coffee, but watch the sugar content as some types of juice or loaded with it.
- Sleep it off. Coming off of caffeine may make her more tired and aggitaged than usual. Her body is trying desperately to get her to drink a soda, so instead of letting her indulge, parents should encourage their teen to give in to her body’s demands. If she feels tired, she should nap. Within a few days, her body will not require the naps anymore.
- Cut back on how much you buy. It’s up to parents to cut down on how much soda you buy at the grocery store. If the pantry isn’t stocked with it, her choices for after school drinks will be limited, and she’ll be forced to make better choices. Plus, you’ll save some money in the process!