It's been just over two months since I stopped drinking coffee.
Yes, I'm still alive, although it's been tough, and the temptation to just "go back to normal" has tempted me a lot. Giving up coffee is one of the hardest things I've ever done, but over the last few months I've made some drastic changes in order to spare myself big and unwanted health problems down the road.
The majority of my motivation came from two places: frequent UTI's (urinary tract infections) and ongoing anxiety. As I changed up my health I began reading and learning, and I was amazed to discover how much science has learned recently about gut health and mental health. There is a direct correlation - multiple studies have found that if you have poor nutrition it absolutely does affect your happiness, ability to focus and motivation.
If you've been struggling with anxiety, depression or just general apathy I would suggest experimenting with your diet.
When I began these changes, which began with taking a sabbatical from alcohol, sugar and most refined grains, I had no idea it would lead into me giving up my beloved coffee. I was not a cup of joe in the morning and good to go person. I sometimes drank up to six cups a day. Big cups. So that's probably more like... too much to even think about. I was way over doing it with coffee. I couldn't even imagine life without coffee. What would I sip on while I did my writing???? You cannot be a writer and not drink coffee. Right...?
Turns out, I kind of have to be. The more I learned the more I realized how little I knew about coffee. In fact, I came to find out how little anyone knows about coffee. For every study promoting its benefits, there's another claiming adverse affects. One of those affects? Anxiety. And this one is proven. The more coffee you drink the more you spike your stress hormones, which leads to higher levels of anxiety. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this if this it's the first you're hearing of it. Most doctors advise giving up coffee and caffeine in order to help a person sleep better, feel calmer, reduce blood pressure, reduce cortisol levels, balance hormones and balance ph levels in the body.
I know, I know, but it's COFFEE. We socialize around coffee. We have routines built around coffee. This can be the hardest part. Not having a warm, morning beverage that made me feel good was a big part of my struggle. I couldn't just wake up and start the day. I needed something for my morning routine, and over the last few months I have experimented with several things.
I've now come to associate mornings with sacred time.
It's no longer the time of day I drag myself forward, sipping coffee as I read emails and scroll Facebook. Now, I do some yoga, tuning into my body, noticing how it feels, noticing how my breath plays a powerful role in waking it up and energizing it for the day. I connect with the energy of a new day, and allow myself to wake up naturally but with positive intentions. I follow this with a short meditation, and then sometimes I journal or read.
I then follow this with my super morning tonic. I call it super because it's got some powerful healing properties. I've listed the simple recipe below, along with details on what they do below that. I know asking someone to switch to this from coffee is a tall order, but perhaps you'd just like to try drinking it before you have coffee, which would be a great way to start the day!
Super Morning Tonic:
A lot of people already drink warm water with lemon in the morning. Lemons are a wonderful source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the essential building blocks of a healthy body. Your body needs it to form and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels, and skin. Vitamin C is essential to making collagen – a protein that helps support tendons, ligaments and blood vessels and keeps the skin and other organs together. Vitamin C also improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps strengthen our immunity system, thus protecting us from diseases.
If you want healthy skin, bones and blood, then you need Vitamin C.
Along with this, drinking warm lemon water stimulates the bile in your liver, which helps to get your digestive tract working and flushes your system. If you drink coffee because it makes you go poop, then this is a benefit for you. If you drink this first thing in the morning, you will use the bathroom soon after.
I like to scrape some of the pulp out and add it to my tea. This adds some fiber to the drink, and also increases both the Vitamin C I'm getting and the absorption of the other vitamins and minerals found in lemons.
Cinnamon is regarded as a super food, and as a bonus, it tastes great! It's loaded with antioxidants, and in one study, it was even more potent than garlic.
Cinnamon is one of the best foods for lowering inflammation. If you've heard anything about excessive inflammation in the body, then you know it can lead to a lot of problems, including arthritis, headaches and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
This powerhouse spice is also great for heart health, balancing blood sugar levels and keeping your overall health up. Along with being anti-inflammatory, it's also anti-fungal, which helps with candida over growth (a common cause of yeast infections as well as other stomach problems).
Just looking at that photo above gives me all the earthy feels of turmeric powder. This one is also a powerhouse for the body!
This spice is another strong aid against inflammation. Some people claim it can be as effective as over the counter medications, like Tylenol, in decreasing and managing pain. I did drink this tea on a day I had a headache, and although it didn't immediately go away, it slowly went away on its own, and without any adverse effects. I can say that the headache did not morph into a migraine, which used to happen to me a lot, so perhaps it did more than I realized.
Turmeric is also being studied as a tool in fighting depression. Giving up coffee had a much bigger effect on my mood than I anticipated, and I can't say if it was this spice that did it, but once I started drinking this tea I did feel better. And like cinnamon, turmeric has other wide ranging benefits from preventing cancer to lowering cholesterol.
Coconut manna, which is also called coconut butter, is the oil of coconut blended with the meat to create a creamy texture.
Coconut manna is full of healthy fats, which help to boost your metabolism and keep you feeling full longer. It's also rich in lauric acid, which boosts immunity and destroys harmful bacteria, viruses, and funguses. This sweet, buttery tropical meat is both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, which helps boost your immunity and clear out bad bacteria.
Along with this, coconut manna is a great source of fiber, is good for your skin and hair, and has a natural sweetness, which improves the taste of the tea.
Because I am still on a sugar detox (and may stay off the stuff for good), I don't sweeten this tea. However, if it doesn't taste good to you, adding a little honey might be just what you need. Honey is another anti-bacterial and anti-fungal food, as well as a great source of certain vitamins and minerals.
Ascorbic acid is synthetic vitamin C. Synthetic is never quite the same as the real thing, but it's impossible to get real Vitamin C supplements. It would take like 600 oranges and cost a fortune. Although this is a substitute, it still works.
That being said, it is essential to get a high quality synthetic. The cheaper ones are made from GMO corn and can have adverse affects. It's better to not use this at all than to use the cheaper ones. The one bought I bought comes with 90 servings of 1/2 a teaspoon (or 3 months worth) and it was $14.
If you do decide to add this, I would not recommend doing it all the time. Just a 1/2 teaspoon is something like 4,000 times the amount of vitamin C you need in a day. Adding this much for a few weeks at a time, perhaps to fight a cold, encourage wound healing, boost your immunity or for overall body support could be just what you need.
However, over the long term this is not the same as getting natural vitamin C, so please, be conservative with this and only do it intermittently, maybe every three months or so, or when you feel a cold coming on. This is not a true replacement for oranges, lemons, kale, strawberries and other vitamin C rich foods. Once again, always ensure you get high quality ascorbic acid, which can be found at your local health store.