I hope you enjoyed my little bit of alliteration in the title. Over the years, I’ve apparently built myself a reputation as a coffee-addict, for reasons unknown. OK, the 4-5 cups a day is probably a dead giveaway but hey, could be something else. I found it hard to walk around town shopping without a cup in my hand, and mornings didn’t start until I’d had a latte from my beloved Nespresso Nespresso Coffee Machine. Then whenever anyone offered me a cuppa at work I just had to say yes, even if I didn’t really fancy one. There are hundreds of photos on my social media of my hand strategically holding a take-out cup (or, more recently, my KeepCup, or of me sitting in a cafe in front of some latte art – yet the amount of pictures of me plus coffee that are readily available doesn’t even scratch the surface of my caffeine intake. I was definitely addicted.
In a moment of clarity, I decided I would give up coffee for Lent then allow myself to indulge once again when Easter was upon us. The morning after, and for the next few days, when caffeine withdrawal hit I was really regretting that decision. I was tired, irritable, my hands were trembling, and I was battling a headache that just wouldn’t quit. Those 3-4 days were not fun whatsoever, and even after that I had really strong cravings for coffee and ended up pretty grouchy if everyone around me was drinking it and I wasn’t. Pathetic, right?
Why did I do it?
Primarily, health reasons. I’m not religious, so deciding to do this at the same time as Lent just happened to be a happy coincidence. Plus it was a little challenge for myself: I’ve had two extremely early starts in the last few weeks to catch flights so being able to make it through the airport jungle without a latte in each hand would be a tick in the personal achievements box.
I have an extremely sensitive stomach and digestive system, and for a while I’ve been fairly convinced that my caffeine habit hasn’t been helping that whatsoever. But I’d normally just shrug and pour myself another while lamenting feeling bloated and battling stomach cramps. Sensible isn’t my middle name.
Why exactly is coffee bad for you?
Coffee itself isn’t inherently bad for you. In fact, research has shown that drinking coffee does have health benefits, including protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, including liver cancer – but it’s all in moderation. If you start to tip the scale too far and consume too much caffeine, that’s when the problems can start. An excess of caffeine can lead to insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, an upset stomach, an increased heartrate and even muscle tremors. And with the amount of coffee I was drinking, I was definitely ticking the boxes of more than a few of those negative effects.
So what changed?
- My morning energy levels have skyrocketed. I no longer crawl out of bed like a zombie, cursing the sunlight and wishing for a longer lie-in. I bounce up like Roadrunner on Red Bull and generally stay that way for most of the day.
- I’m not as lethargic, and I don’t have energy spikes and slumps. I can start my afternoon with a glass of water and a smile instead of needing a quick cuppa to get me going. I don’t come home exhausted, dragging myself from the car into the house to pop the kettle on. It’s refreshing and revitalising, to say the least.
- My gut is so much happier. I’ve struggled with IBS for years, ten plus, and have known for a while that limiting my caffeine intake would likely help with this issue. But I was so addicted to coffee that I just put up with those problems because I assumed cutting out my favourite beverage would be much worse. I was wrong: I don’t suffer from stomach cramps and bloating anywhere near as much as I used to. Here’s to a happy tum!
- Not a migraine in sight. I can’t put this entirely down to coffee consumption since my migraines are now few and far between thanks to acupuncture, however when I did have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning the day Lent came to a close, I then battled a two-day migraine complete with sensitivity to smells and nausea. So I’m not saying there’s a connection, but there’s definitely a connection.
- I’m more hydrated. Coffee dehydrated me a lot, and with that would come bad skin and sore, gritty eyes. But now I’ve noticed a huge difference in my hydration levels and I feel fantastic.
I’m not swearing off coffee for good, but going without it for an extended period of time has definitely shown me that I’m better off without it in my diet. The other thing I’ve noticed is that I’m consuming a fraction of the dairy that I used to. I don’t really drink milk or have much of it in cereal so my daily intake of milk has dramatically been reduced. I’ll probably still have a coffee first thing in the morning or occasionally if we go out for brunch, but
So what am I drinking instead?
- Water! I have a couple of reusable bottles and I have one with me every day, and I’m drinking so much more water now than I ever was before. Sometimes with a little cordial in or sometimes just on its own. So refreshing!
- Tea! I’ve always hated tea, so to actually be drinking it out of choice is a completely new thing for me. Earl Gray (black) is currently my drink of choice, but I’m also loving peppermint tea and fruit teas.
- Chai lattes and green tea lattes. I’ve always had a soft spot for these.
So that’s it! This has been my first major life change of 2018. Please bear in mind that I’m not a health professional, I’m only speaking from my own experience. But I’ve definitely seen a transformation since cutting out coffee. Have you ever thought of doing it?
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