I gave up coffee about three months ago. That may not sound like a big deal to some, but for me, it was huge. It was something I had been thinking about doing for a while for various reasons that I will get into, but never really thought I could accomplish. And you know what I learned through this whole process?
That I am more alert now, without drinking coffee, than I ever was when I drank it every day.
For a long time I wasn’t a big coffee drinker. In fact, my parents never really were so it wasn’t around my house growing up, and I somehow made it through college without ever really drinking any either. I just didn’t know what life was like under the influence of a coffee-induced caffeine buzz, so it didn’t even cross my mind to try. Plus I thought it tasted disgusting.
Fast forward to my mid twenties and the advent of the Keurig coffee machine. That is what got me hooked. Thankfully I didn’t like sugar in my coffee so didn’t get addicted to that sweetness so many need, but I loved my morning joe with a good (and I mean good) dollop of half and half. None of that drinking it black business. Yuck.
For the past five or six years I drank multiple cups of coffee a day and believed I would never be able to go through a day without it again. I believed that I was well and truly hooked on the stuff. In fact, when I would do cleanses that didn’t allow me to drink any, my cravings flared and got pretty unbearable. No caffeine headaches per say (which led me to believe I wasn’t addicted…), but just huge can’t-stop-thinking-about-it cravings. Not addicted you say? Yeah, I know.
In all seriousness, I really thought I needed it. I have struggled with fatigue for many years as a result of imbalances in my thyroid and adrenals. Some days I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open at my desk the fatigue was so bad. So, while I grappled with trying to understand why a normal thirty-something couldn’t stay awake at her desk job, I reached for the coffee to jolt me back to life.
I had to be careful with how much I drank though. Too much and I would get heart palpitations. Too late in the day (my cutoff was 3 pm) and I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at night.
The fatigue issue aside, I began seriously considering giving coffee up when I thought about eliminating dairy from my diet. Dairy is a common allergen and can contribute to gas, bloating and acne, three things that I have struggled with. Also, I was worried that the non-organic half and half I was consuming in copious amounts at Starbucks would impact my health long-term as well (not to mention the sheer expense of coffee purchased at Starbucks). I tried the non-dairy creamers, which paled in comparison (plus many of them have added sugar). And those creamers at the office in little containers that don’t need to be refrigerated? Not anywhere close to natural, so I avoided those too.
In addition, one of my health professionals told me that consuming coffee actually makes it even harder for my adrenals to function properly. Really? You’d think coffee would help our little adrenals to do their job, and while it does increase the stimulation of these glands, it may actually wear them out and increase vulnerability to a variety of health disorders related to inflammation and fatigue.
But I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to stay awake at work that I put all of these health concerns aside for a long time and just kept on drinking. Though it honestly never really helped too much, unless I drank enough and got right to the brink of drinking too much.
One day I upped and sold my Keurig on Craigslist. Not sure how I got the inspiration exactly, but it was my first step towards quitting the habit. Second step, going to black coffee. That took some getting used to... Then one day I decided my coffee just didn’t taste good anymore and stopped. And I haven’t looked back since. (Though, to be honest, I’m a little scared to even try it lest I get addicted again!).
Since that day in November when I said goodbye to my addiction, I have rarely had the same feelings of extreme fatigue that I had almost every day at work when I drank coffee. If I do need a pick-me-up these days, I turn to green tea, and occasionally black.
So is coffee the reason I was so tired? Perhaps. Maybe my adrenals were just so toasted from being pushed along for so long that they finally got to working right once they were one their own.
Whatever the reason, it has certainly been a learning experience and a positive step forward with my health. Now, I’m not panning coffee (though maybe all the sugar we add to it). I know plenty of people out there who drink it every day. It was just a positive step for me and my health. We are all different creatures and need different things in our lives to get us to our healthiest state. For some that includes coffee, for others like me, it doesn’t.
But an even bigger moral of the story? I accomplished something that I never thought I would be able to do. Something I considered out of the realm of normal possibility in my life. All health gains aside, that is pretty freaking huge. If I can get over this obstacle, what’s stopping me from tackling my next big task?
Peace, love and freedom,