For the past few years my coffee consumption had grown exponentially, mainly after joining a corporate job and being surrounded by people who take smoke/coffee breaks regularly. Yep, that doesn’t help! Cause when you are in an office and your colleague says “let’s go have a coffee” chances are you’ll join. And going for a coffee and not drinking one looks weird, right?
What coffee was doing to my body
I love the smell of coffee in the morning. Making myself a hot cup of espresso with nut milk brings me to life and gets me ready to start working. I usually have breakfast at home and then I make my cup of coffee when I reach the office.
Caffeine has a lot of benefits, but consuming it in excess has many negative effects that I was starting to acknowledge in my own body:
- Increased anxiety levels: I was feeling anxious very often. Quite unusual in me as I have a calmed personality
- Disrupted sleep: this was the worst part for me. Believe me, I appreciate my sleep hours VERY much. I found that I wouldn’t fall asleep until 12am-1am, and that quite often I would wake up in the middle of the night, which left me with 6-7 hours or less of sleep.
- Messing with my stomach: coffee is highly acidic and my stomach is a bit sensitive and as a consequence I had mild pain and gas daily.
I was feeling tired, even sleepy (!) and had stomach pain almost every day, with an uncomfortable sensation overall. Of course I knew it was the caffeine causing this but I wasn’t able to quit drinking coffee. That is until I really put an effort to change that.
LISTENING TO MY BODY
The first thing I did was to quit the mid morning coffee. I didn’t need that. What my body was asking for was for something to fill my tummy with. So I substituted that one for a healthy snack and a couple of glasses of water or herbal tea. The amount of energy you put in your body is much higher and cleaner and it keeps you going until lunch time. I started to feel much better almost instantly.
The hardest one to quit was the after lunch coffee. If you are familiar with southern European cultures, you will know that having one after lunch is almost like a must do. The problem here was that for me, that cup of coffee was in some way substituting dessert. I usually had it with a piece of dark chocolate and loved it, but soon after my tummy started making noises and I was in some kind of mild pain usually.
I tried to quit this one radically, but I started getting headaches, which I read was part of the side effects of quitting caffeine. It really is like a drug!
CHANGING MY MINDSET
At this point I still felt like I needed a coffee to keep me going for the rest of the afternoon, so I went for decaf. I tried this for a couple of weeks and worked really well. On the second week I surprisingly started leave the cup unfinished. As a result of consuming less of it, my body didn’t crave it as much.
During this time I was ready Living the Healthy Life by Jessica Sepel, and she really gets into the caffeine problem. She recommends to have only one cup of coffee per day, and ideally before 9am-10am. As a substitute, she recommends having chai tea, which has this blend of amazing spices like clove and cinnamon, and the taste is delicious. I found something similar in a local supermarket and this is the one I always have after lunch. The cinnamon gives it a bit of sweetness and it is a perfect dessert drink for me!
Now I stick to one coffee a day and I make sure that I really enjoy it. I make it as soon as I reach the office and prepare it in a big cup, half espresso (long) and half nut milk. I add a sprinkle of cinnamon and drink it slowly through my first work hour. For the rest of the day I stick to herbal tea, healthy snacks and have a chai tea with nut milk one or two hours after lunch. As a result, my stomach pain is gone, my sleep hours have gone up to 8 or 9 and I feel good and energized most of the days. It wasn’t an easy transition but I enjoyed listening to my body and finding what works best for me!
How is your coffee intake? Are you a lucky one that doesn’t need it? Or are you trying to reduce your intake like me? Any other tips I could make use of? I’d really love to know, so please let me know what you do in the comments!