Is It Time To Rethink Your Relationship With Coffee?
My experience with coffee…
Coffee and I.
It’s a complicated love story.
I started drinking it in high school (to get though those exams). And since I was still a bit controlled by calories, but also with a HUGE sweet tooth, I used to drink coffee sweetened with equal, and it was the only way I could actually knock it back.
Equal?! I would never TOUCH this stuff now.
I’ve been lucky that I’ve never found coffee to affect me negatively. For some that are prone to anxiety, adrenal fatigue or high cortisol levels, caffeine can have serious negative impacts. But I’ve never suffered from these so I’ve always enjoyed my morning Joe without any consequences.
Keep in mind coffee can be very beneficial as well and research shows it may help with all sorts of things like exercise performance, cognitive abilities, migraines, and protection against heart disease.
As with every aspect of nutrition, it’s never a simple answer of something being either good or bad. The answer always depends on so many factors.
Despite loving my coffee every day, once a year I give myself a little reset by going without coffee for at least a week or two. I always know when it’s time to do this because my 9am coffee will become 8am, then 7am, then I’ll crave it the second I roll out of bed in order to function. I’ll also start finding that my energy levels are so low, and after coffee I’ll actually be more tired, and then I’ll need a second coffee and alas… More tired.
I hate the idea of being dependant on something to feel like my normal self. Even when I am drinking coffee I like to ensure I am waking up energised, and thus coffee is only a little boost or an enhancement, not a complete necessity for life.
So four weeks ago I gave up the joe, and I’m still going! (Mostly… I’ve had three coffees during that time just to see how it went). I have to say though I’m loving being coffee free, even though I’m not totally caffeine-free yet.
Here is what I’ve been enjoying instead…
Drinks to enjoy when you and coffee are on a break.
Green tea and matcha
These two contain a little caffeine, which I find is enough to prevent the withdrawals and headaches. But it’s not as much as you’ll find in coffee, and they also contain L-theanine which is an amino acid found to have a powerful calming effect without drowsiness.
I’ve gotten really into traditional Matcha lately, which I make the way the Japanese do, with a matcha whisk and bowl. And in true Japanese style, I make an effort to enjoy without distraction, just sitting and listening to the sounds of the earth.
I got all my matcha equipment and authentic matcha powder from Zen Wonders. Highly reccomend!
Fire cider tonic
I got into this because I love the Purify Tonic from one of my favourite cafes Orchard St in Bondi. It consists of apple cider vinegar, ginger, turmeric, cayenne and a few other herbs. Let me tell ya, this thing wakes me up! It’s fiery and sour ingredients really get my system (and my digestion) going, and really gives my a pep in my step.
I started making my own similar version which consists of the juice of a whole lemon, a generous pinch of cayenne and a tablespoon of Fire Cider. I’m in the process of making my own fire cider, which needs another two weeks to ferment, but in the mean time I’m loving this one from Hilbilby.
This is a drink I’ll be taking all credit for naming. I make it out of Chaga mushroom powder, which is a powerful adaptogenic medicinal mushroom. Bonus that it tastes a bit like coffee! I make this chagaccino by dissolving 1/2 tsp of chaga powder in a cup of boiling water. You can drink it like this (it’s almost like a long black) or you can add coconut cream to make it creamy.
Cacao is a known stimulant, and I love to enjoy a hot cacao in the afternoon. It’s basically a healthy hot chocolate and I really find it gives me the little afternoon boost I crave.
So now that you’ve got my drink recco’s…
What can we learn from this human-caffeine relationship?
I’d love you to evaluate your own relationship with coffee, because for me, there was a lot that came to the surface, that I hadn’t quite realised before.
Firstly, I realised how much I relied on it to feel happy. If you know my story, you’ll know I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with what society calls “depression”, and low moods is something I still work hard to combat every day, through my lifestyle choices.
Although I’m at a place where I feel great most of the time, I’d be lying if I said I never feel down or depressed for no reason (but it’s also something I’ve accepted will always be a part of my life, and I’m actually grateful for it in a weird way).
The thing is, in my coffee-free adventures, the times that I really really wanted a coffee was when I was feeling depressed or sad. So giving up coffee allowed me the space to address those feelings and either find the cause or go deeper in myself, without masking it with a caffeine-induced mood booster.
The second thing I learnt, is that coffee makes me more productive. It just does. If I have a coffee, I find it really easy to sit at my computer and smash out my to do list, just go-go-go and don’t stop until everything is crossed off. I can stare at my laptop for like 10 hours without flinching. Honestly it’s like taking Ritalin.
Without coffee, it’s a little harder to do that.
Some other issues that most people use coffee to mask include sleep problems, energy problems (which can often be caused by vitamin deficiencies, malnourishment or inability to regulate blood sugar), or sometimes people just abuse coffee because they hate their life.
And this is the philosophical mic drop…
I have to admit, it’s got me thinking, perhaps this means we aren’t meant to be staring at a computer screen being “productive” for 8+ hours a day? It sounds obvious but I feel like most coffee culture is around the idea of people trying to “get through the work day”.
If one is reliant on a substance just to be able to withstand their every day life without wishing the day away, some life changes are in order!
I’ve enjoyed being more in flow with what my body naturally wants to do, if I’m energised with ideas and productive masculine list-ticking energy, that’s what I’ll do. And if I’m feeling like I’m just staring blankly at a computer screen with tumbleweeds in my brain, I’ll take it as a sign that it’s beach time, or lunch time or friends time or even sexual pleasure time.
There is a big school of thought that caffeine halts creativity, and I’d have to agree with this.
I believe the human race needs a whole lot more fluidity and letting their inner truth guide what they do at every minute of the day. Human beings do not fit on a 9-5 M-F schedule. You can’t force a baby or toddler to stick to a strict timed routine of work and play and food or happy and sad and tired, yet somewhere a long the human journey of growing up, society switches and we suddenly have to fit within these strict rules of life, and the only way to do that is often to abuse substances – caffeine to get through the work day, alcohol to relax and recreational drugs to feel good.
Imagine what you can achieve when you actually allow your inner wisdom to lead the way.
Meditation, mindfulness and creative practices are extremely effective at getting you there too.
I won’t be giving up coffee forever. But I’ll certainly be taking these learnings and incorporating them into my daily life.