Those of you that are regular readers of my blog know that I've attempted to remove coffee from my life several times. I hit 8 weeks sans coffee about a year and a half ago before a big trip to Hawaii and then also swore off the stuff for about two weeks to kick off my 10 Day Refresh. More recently, I got pretty serious about my relationship with coffee and decided it was time to officially say goodbye.
Coffee has always been a big crutch in my life, for many reasons. It's what got me up in the morning, helped my brain function properly, provided a vehicle for my love of grass-fed butter and MCT oil and aided my 3PM slump. Recently, I started to take notice of my dependence on coffee and how my relationships with it was becoming truly negative.
I really don't like the feeling of being 100% dependent on something, especially when it comes to a food or supplement. In this case, I'm referring to coffee as a supplement. I couldn't go a day without a cup, or four, and didn't like that complete feeling of dependency. Not only that, coffee had started to make me feel really off. My anxiety levels were higher than ever, I had terrible brain fog in the mid afternoon and felt more exhausted than normal by 8PM each night. I knew that something wasn't right.
The two previous times that I've sworn off of coffee have been because I've had similar symptoms, but over time, coffee has always slowly crept back in. This time around though, I visited my natropath to get to the bottom of my symptoms and to discuss my coffee addiction in depth. After meeting with her and doing some blood and saliva tests, we came to the conclusion that my thyroid was very low and that I was suffering from adrenal fatigue. Her first and strongest suggestion was that I get myself 100% off of coffee and eventually, completely cut out caffeine. Yikes!
Let me explain adrenal fatigue here quickly so that it's clear how coffee greatly contributed to how I was feeling. The adrenals are the body's hormonal powerhouse. Coffee stimulates the adrenal glands which activates your fight or flight response. Basically, every time I was drinking coffee, my body thought that it was running away from a bear and would be flooded with adrenaline to help me run faster and escape. Over time, this was exhausting for my adrenals, so they got to a point where they were completely burnt out. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is also released when drinking coffee which is what was contributing to my increased levels of anxiety followed by a feeling of complete exhaustion.
Per my natropath's recommendation, I have not had a drop of coffee for over two weeks now and I plan on sticking to this plan for quite some time. I am still drinking caffeinated tea in the morning (bulletproof matcha is bomb in case you've never tried it) but have been slowly cutting back and will eventually remove caffeine completely. Cutting coffee this time around was no joke. I knew I had to do it to heal and start to feel better but it was a struggle! In order to help ease the transition, I cut back on exercise and therefore added an hour or two of sleep every night for the first week. I've also been really conscious of my diet and made a big effort to include more veggies and healthy fats than normal to provide my body with as much natural energy as possible.
Now, just over two weeks in, I'm finally starting to notice major differences. My anxiety has decreased significantly and I'm feeling energized and clear headed in the afternoons when before, I'd hit a slump. Healing adrenal fatigue takes time, but my body was screaming loud and clear that it was through with coffee, so I listened.
Although caffeine isn't an issue for everyone, it's something to be very aware of. During times of increased stress or anxiety, it's important to remember the connection between caffeine and adrenals and what that can do to the body in the long term. If anything, look to switch out your 3PM cup with a big, tall glass of water and then a cup of green tea and see if you notice a difference.
Stay tuned for my relationship update with coffee but as of now, we've broken things off! How does your body react to caffeine and coffee? Have you ever had to break up with your coffee addiction?