If you know me, then you know that I have a serious coffee addiction. It all started back when I was about 12 years old. I was always so much taller than everyone else in my grade and couldn't help but be really embarrassed about it. I had long limbs and seemed to trip over anything and everything on the playground. Not cool.
So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Somewhere I'd heard that coffee stunted growth if you started drinking it early in life, so I was off to the races! Whenever we'd go to Starbucks I'd beg my mom for a frappuccino or some other sugar laden coffee drink.
Ever since I've been in love with coffee. I dropped the fancy fraps and cappuccinos back in college after discovering how unhealthy they were for me but continued with black or bulletproof. Fast forward to the last few months....
Recently, I haven't been feeling very well. I've been dealing with major stomach aches, fatigue, muscles aches and really bad anxiety. As someone that takes diet, exercise and wellness very seriously, it's been a hard thing for me to deal with. I'm still in the process of getting to the bottom of it but so far have discovered that I'm suffering from adrenal fatigue, low thyroid and some food allergies. I'm going to give you all a full health update next week, but in the meantime, I want to explain how laying off coffee for 6 weeks really helped ease some of my symptoms, especially my adrenal fatigue.
Coffee can be a total godsend but it can also be very detrimental if abused. Over the last year, I began drinking way more coffee than necessary. I was working a ton, moved twice and was not getting quite as much sleep as I'd wanted, so I used coffee as a way to get me through. Almost immediately, I noticed that my anxiety skyrocketed and my exhaustion increase. I attributed it to the stress in my life and refused to believe that it was just excess caffeine in my bloodstream. No way was I going to give up coffee!
Then, about 7 weeks ago, I found out that I was suffering from adrenal fatigue. Your adrenals are a small gland that secrete the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol in small doses is really important. It's there to kick you into high gear if you need to outrun a bear or react quickly in a life or death situation. But, living in the high stress world that we live in, many times our bodies think that we are being attacked by a bear (but really it's our boss) so we begin secreting cortisol on a continuous basis. This depletes our bodies of energy making us feel exhausted, angry, hungry and even gets in the way of weight loss. In comes adrenal fatigue. And what is the very worst things for adrenal fatigue? COFFEE.
So, for about 6 weeks I went coffee free and here's what I noticed...
For me, coffee was really about the ritual in the mornings and not about the actual coffee. After a day or two of matcha green tea, I really didn't miss it! As long as I had something warm and tasty to drink in the mornings, I was fine. Coming from a major coffee addict, this was a huge breakthrough for me. I also noticed a significant decrease in my anxiety, especially in the afternoons. At 3PM I was no longer reaching for more caffeine to pick me up, instead I reached for kombucha or some other tea. I did have a few days at the beginning where I went through withdrawls and had symptoms like headache and foggy brain but they were nothing compared to the intense anxiety and exhaustion I used to feel. To combat these side effects I just made sure to supplement with a lot of healthy fats, like bulletproof green tea, olive oil, coconut oil and avocados, and was really able to keep my symptoms at bay.
Then, last week, I took a nice relaxing vacation to Hawaii. Kona coffee is some of the tastiest coffee there is so I reintroduced just a half cup or so a day back into my diet. I made this decision because I was on vacation, so my stress levels were already much lower, and I didn't want to deprive myself of the worlds best coffee!
Now that I'm back from vacation, I'm debating whether I'll keep coffee in my routine or not. I feel great without it but also get pretty freaked out when I think about never having coffee again. More than anything, what I learned from this experience was that so many of the things that we think we absolutely cannot get rid of in our diets, like bread, sugar or our morning coffee, are simply habits and addictions that we can fully control. All we have to do is mix up our routine, figure out substitutes and address the real emotions behind why we gravitate to certain things even if they make us feel crappy.
So, I encourage you to really take a look at the foods and drinks in your life and whether they are truly making you feel good. Is there a place where you could eliminate bread or sugar from your diet? Or maybe caffeine? It doesn't have to be forever but just test your body and your mind to see how you feel.
I'd love to hear about some foods that you've eliminated from your diet or would like to eliminate and how it's affecting your body.