Is it Time to Kick Coffee to the Curb?

Good New Year and Happy Saturday to you!

Yes, I know my greeting is topsy turvy - and for anyone who is attempting to give up coffee - most sentences can come out like this for a little while until you turn the corner on the perceivably heinous side effects of caffeine withdrawal.  So why would one want to give up this deliciously roasted cup of Joe? More importantly if someone would attempt this feat - how do you go about it without road raging other drivers on the highway of life?

Its common that when you are an avid coffee drinker and are in close proximity to someone who has never or currently doesn't drink coffee - you are forgiven for offering the "cleanskin" a look of shock, doubt and disbelief.  Remember however - you didn't enter this world drinking coffee - its a learnt behavior.  Have you noticed with increasing frequency that although studies say there are no real adverse impacts on your health and well being - anyone that has tried to give up or has had to go for a period without their usual dose - are reduced to an anxious, irritable, nervy ball of stress?  That can't be good for anyone's health - especially those around them!

The clue in taking a successful break from your morning heart starter lies in the unlearning of learnt behavior, the supporting of your desires to drink a molten hot cup of pseudo calm and the ability to believe your life can literally go on without it.  In many cases, your sense of clarity, your weight challenges and your reaction to stress can all improve once past the cooling off period beyond withdrawal.  Here are a few clues as to why one may consider breaking the habit for a period of time:

  1. Delayed sleep onset, secondary insomnia - if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, your sympathetic nervous system may need a caffeine break.
  2. Calcium deposits in the joints or stones, calcium deficiency - we all know that calcium is important, but did you know caffeine draws calcium out of where it is meant to be amongst other minerals?  Even despite adding milk!
  3. Thirst discrepancies - have you lost your thirst or have trouble quenching it?  Coffee could be tricking your brain into thinking you have hydrated whilst at the same time you are losing extra fluid due to its diuretic effects.
  4. Headaches, tension and irritability - although a caffeine withdrawal can bring these on, if you are having any level frequency of these whilst drinking your coffee - it may be time to give yourself a rest.
  5. Poor absorption of nutrients, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome - the last thing you need in your system if this is going on is competition. Coffee, milk or sweeteners on their own or together can only add to the dilemma.

So now you know the why's here are my top tips for easing the withdrawal and successfully moving to the other side of coffee - even if for just a small period of time:

  1.  Pick another transition drink that has health benefits, does not reduce your hydration and has supportive properties to the parts of your body that has to let go of caffeine.  Try dandelion root tea, roasted chicory drinks (Ecco, Caro, Bambu), green tea (yes it contains some caffeine but also contains L-Theanine which reduces the side effects of anxiety), cacao/cocoa - hot chocolate - as a low sugar offering can work a temporary treat in transition - hold the marshmallows! Other drinks that could help include a magnesium rich smoothie (I use a chocolate one which can hit the dopamine pathways with its co-factors to offer your brain a reward centre hit similar to coffee) and vege juices with ginger in moderate doses.
  2. Find the triggers that lead you to your barista - and change them.  Choose a different driving route, start at an alternative time for work, prepack your transition drink, exercise first thing to lift your thirst, drink a glass of water before you drink anything else, commit to eating breakfast before you drink coffee.
  3. Give yourself permission to wean off using decaffeinated coffee for a period of time - this may make the withdrawal a little easier as there is usually a small amount of caffeine in the decaf beans.

Remember - coffee has very few if any notable health outcomes - its best to keep this as a sometimes drink!

*I have recently given myself the gift of coffee free time - and yes - I do enjoy a cup!  Sometimes we just have to give our body's a chance to do it alone - it pays off in calm and clear thinking, relaxed driving and improvements in digestive and dental health!