Why and How I Quit Coffee
So I thought I should write a book ‘I Quit Coffee’! It would be a best seller, for sure, just like the ‘I quit sugar’ by Sarah Wilson. Except I don’t think it would sell as well. Not at all. Unfortunately…..
Because we are all completely on board with the concept of ‘sugar is bad for you’ and more and more people are trying to beat their sugar addictions. There is unanimous agreement that sugar is not helpful. However, there is no such consensus on coffee. In fact, most people believe that coffee is good for you. Great in fact!
It gives you energy, it has antioxidants and some studies show it can even help you lose weight!! (those I think most definitely funded by the coffee industry 🙂
Even the Paleo/Ancestral food community which I definitely belong to considers coffee to be ‘ok’.
Cavemen didn’t drink it, but it’s been around in many ancient civilisations and that makes it Paleo-ish I guess.
I’ve never needed a lot of coffee, but did have one every day, in the morning. It gave me a nice ‘buzz’, especially during the sleep deprived ‘baby’ days.
Most importantly, I really adore the taste of coffee! The aroma, the flavour, the brown cup, the whole act of sitting there and sipping the dark delicious liquid……..mmm…
So why would I give up this experience? Because it really is an experience. You don’t say to a friend “let’s catch up for a juice/smoothie/tea/water”, do you? It’s all about coffee.
There are a few reasons I quit coffee a few years ago now. Have a read and see if any of these apply to you and if they do, I encourage you to strongly consider giving up this (rather expensive!) habit. For your long term health.
1st Reason Why I Quit Coffee:
It was ruining my sleep.
Yes, even though I always had a coffee (and only 1 coffee!) before 11am, my sleep quality was declining every year.
If you are not sleeping well and waking up exhausted in the morning, NEEDING the cup of coffee to ‘function’ it’s a sure sign your adrenals are out of order and you shouldn’t be fueling your energy with a drug. Yes, a drug.
When I conduct DUTCH hormone tests on my clients, which include an extensive adrenal profile, almost 80% of the time the adrenals are overworked and it shows. Coffee contributes to cortisol elevations and ‘adrenal fatigue’.
2nd reason I Quit Coffee:
It was interfering with my digestive health.
This of course I knew, but refused to truly believe because coffee is just soooooo good!!
Alas, it is highly cross-reactive to gluten, and as you’ve probably read in my previous articles, gluten is definitely something we ALL should avoid, in particular if you have gluten sensitivity.
Coffee is also a substance that’s very irritating to many people’s digestive tracts.
I was completely addicted to it and I don’t like feeling like I can’t get through the day without brown liquid in a cup.
Structuring my morning around a favourite coffee shop is just not the way I want to go on about my day. It was controlling me.
It was making me stressed and interfered with my mood.
Coffee doesn’t have this effect on everyone- for example, some people can drink 2-3 cups of coffee at any time during the day or night and feel calm and relaxed and go to sleep totally fine.
I however, started noticing that coffee quickened my pulse, made me ‘hyper’ and quite frazzled. I simply feel more calm without it. It was raising my cortisol levels, to a level I actually started noticing.
I think the reason for this love-hate coffee relationship is explained well by this recent study which shows that there are people with a ‘slow caffeine metaboliser gene’ and ‘fast caffeine metaboliser gene’ (source)…. Unfortunately, I must be one of the slow metabolisers! And so are many of my clients, particularly those affected by anxiety.
Also, coffee is a big dopamine booster- it literally gives us a better mood. However, after the caffeine high comes the caffeine low and it actually brings our dopamine down lower than where we started. So overtime we build this dependency on this drug to give us a mood boost instead of generating our own feel good chemicals by eating healthily, sleeping well, exercising, building relationships etc.
If you suffer from anxiety or feelings of overwhelm, cutting out all caffeine from your life should be a big priority. If you have Pyrrole Disorder it’s a complete ‘No’.
Caffeine contributes to nutrient depletion. It depletes magnesium in quite a significant way- when we drink coffee the intestinal absorption of magnesium is reduced. Which is why those with elevated blood pressure suffer the most when drinking coffee- they are driving down their magnesium levels – a mineral essential for heart and blood vessel health. Given that this is the biggest mineral I’m always trying to increase in my clients’ bodies, this is an easily avoidable obstacle.
Coffee also depletes calcium because it’s such a strong diuretic. Same with sodium and potassium. Which is why it can be so dehydrating on the body (and why Italians serve coffee with a glass of water!).
It also interferes with iron absorption if drunk close to a meal. So does tea, due to the tannins.
How I did it:
Actually, I just stopped.
These days I only have real coffee very rarely (like once a month) if I feel I need to function at a ‘higher level’- if I need to do a corporate presentation on nutrition for example. When you have coffee so rarely, it has a much more obvious uplifting impact- it truly makes you feel amazing.
In winter I usually have a decaf almond coffee (ideally organic and with crap free almond milk). This still provides the flavour and enjoyment, without the sad after effects.
It’s common to experience withdrawal symptoms from quitting coffee like headaches, irritability, moodiness and the quitting process can actually make some people very sick for a few days. During this time you need lots of pure filtered water, a green juice, hugs and early sleep time. It will pass. You will feel much better at the end.
If the above reasons make sense for you, I encourage you to give up coffee for a few weeks to see if you sleep and feel better, become less irritable and moody and have better digestion.
Need help kicking the coffee habit? Get in touch with me for a nutritional plan to make the break up easier to manage.