Brewing Up a Health Conundrum

By Jason Menard

You know, I really do want to do right for myself when it comes to making sensible choices for healthy eating and drinking. But when trying to do right may end up being wrong, it’s almost enough to make one dehydrate themselves out of spite.

Take, for example, my recent attempt at converting to green tea. Now, I’m not a band-wagon jumper and I refuse to jump on somebody else’s train and from craze to craze based upon the latest headline. But, I figure, millions of green tea devotees can’t be wrong. Back in my university day, I was up to an obscenely high number of cups of coffee a day. Although I quit cold turkey, I have bounced back to a cup-a-day habit – certainly not unhealthy, but I wanted to do better!

So, like the person who stumbles across the Backstreet Boys in the discount rack and, after a listen, looks back wistfully to an opportunity lost, I obtained my first box of green tea. Feeling slightly poseurish and mildly conformist, I brewed my first cup. And, after swallowing my pride and convincing myself that following the masses in the quest for a better life is an acceptable form of populism, I took my first sip.

And I hated it.

Same thing with the second sip. Unpleasant sips numbers three and four were chased by equally vile sips five and six. And on and on it went until I reached the grainy, cooled-by-delaying bottom of the cup.

However, instead of discounting it outright, I chose to look back on the experience with the perspective of time. Maybe it’s an acquired taste – I couldn’t remember my first experience with coffee, but I can’t imagine it was as bad as this. After all, I wouldn’t have picked up another cup. So I chalked it up to a bad experience and committed to trying again.

Thinking perhaps it was my ability or the quality of the tea that I had, I chose to go to a more appropriate establishment, which will remain nameless, and decided to go upscale with a latté-based green tea product. With some enthusiasm balanced by more trepidation I watched – or, more accurately, was unable to watch — as the barista worked in secret behind the machine, infusing my beverage with melon flavouring, whipping, foaming, and presenting it to me. All of this hullabaloo is, of course, an affront to my black coffee sensibilities, but I decided to remain open-minded.

Let’s just say the mind slammed shut the second I tasted it. Oh, I tried to prop it open with a few more sips, trying to convince myself that I could actually, possibly, in the right mood, enjoy its sweetness. But it was to no avail. Perhaps a fitting parallel to my personality, the beverage was just too sweet for me to stomach and didn’t contain enough bitterness.

But don’t be sad for that fine coffee product. It found a home in one of my co-workers. I guess if I can’t improve my health, then I could play the medicinal Marco Polo bringing green tea to the masses.

Overall, I’ve been successful in my conversion to a healthier lifestyle. I gave up my beloved sugary soft drinks for its caffeine-free, somewhat flavour-free, diet version. I cut out salt and processed foods and added healthier alternatives and seasonings without batting an eye or offending my palate. I lost weight, lowered my triglycerides, and have managed to keep it off.

Yet a switch to green tea is beyond my reach. And that may not be so bad. In fact, just this week the United States’ Food and Drug Administration rejected allowing green tea vendors to make the claim that it reduces the risk of heart disease, based upon lack of evidence. This falls in line with the organization’s previous decision to reject claims of cancer-prevention properties.

Ironically, antioxidants can be found in acceptable quantities in my black coffee. So maybe while others were chasing the elusive green tea leaf, I and my other java-inspired brethren were on the right track. Then again, in six years coffee may be on the outs and Juan Valdez could be branded a medicinal pariah in the face of the newest research on the health benefits of spruce beer! We can never tell what the future will bring.

All we can do is do the best we can and be satisfied with our effort to improve ourselves. The one thing that will never go out of style is a healthy attitude – no matter whether you choose to kick start it with coffee or green tea!

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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