Coffee is Great, but Freedom is Better

I gave up (caffeinated) coffee. And, well,  . . . . . . the first few days were horrible!

The headaches were obscene. My eyes burned so badly it was difficult to keep them open, especially with bright light. I desperately needed to nap throughout the day – and I am not a napper. Concentration was totally gone. It may be a good excuse for my lack of creativity, hence lack of posts.

I didn’t plan on weaning from my every day dose of caffeine, as it is in my nature to go big or go home. Also, my typical coffee consumption was about a cup and a half per day – a decrease from my prior usual of 2-3 cups. I didn’t think I would be suffering so badly. But the second day was so rough, I decided a little caffeine might be a good idea. I went for some green tea which has about 35 milligrams (mg) of caffeine in one bag, compared to coffee at 95 mg in one 8oz cup. It didn’t help and I had to leave work. I ended up medicating with acetominophen (Tylenol) and a nap, then I could finally function.

Why give up delicious coffee, anyway!?!?!?

Honestly, the main reason is simple: I no longer wish to be a hostage to caffeine. While I was drinking coffee regularly, there were occasional days where I truly did not feel like making it or drinking it. I adore coffee, but on those days, I felt forced to drink it . . . or else. Raging, debilitating headaches. 

Here is reason #2: every girl likes her coffee how she likes her men, and I like mine rich and smooth.          Bahahaha, just kidding!!!   Sort of.        But I do love it best with half and half, and here is why that may not be so great for me, or you. Half and half, or (heavy) cream contain lots of saturated fat, a type of fat that has been shown to contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease.

This is also why half and half may not be such a great choice: it contains milk. Whether or not we need dairy in our diet is a concern I’ve heard from others several times. I’ve been researching this topic and have found more bad than good. I promise that once I exhaust the research and have a more settled belief on dairy, I will get the info out. As I stand currently though, I don’t find that including milk in the diet is a necessity.

Personally, I noticed that after drinking my favorite cup of coffee rich with half and half, I produced thicker phlegm. SO SORRY for that visual, but it’s true, and I would attribute it to that creamy deliciousness, as this did not happen any time after drinking black coffee. I will drink black coffee, but I don’t love it, and eventually I got to asking myself: Do I even like coffee??

Adding sugar to coffee is is no better than half and half as the sweet little crystal is linked to a number of health issues, including heart disease. Sugar also has significant addictive qualities (this is no exaggeration). Now that’s a double whammy when combined with addictive caffeine!

Final reason #3 for giving up coffee is to explore caffeine’s potential for affecting my hormonal balance. I have not taken the steps to determine if I have a hormonal imbalance, and I may do that in the near future. In the meantime, I am happy to observe my new life sans caffeinated coffee. Caffeine raises cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that if at chronically high levels can lead to diabetes, weight gain, poor mood, poor sleep, ironically low cortisol, and other hormone imbalances.

Note: “caffeinated coffee.” I have been drinking this wonderful beverage for a long time, and it is difficult to say goodbye. In the early stages, I allow decaf here and there. However, I believe that when giving something up, it is important to eliminate anything closely related to it to be completely rid of your attachment. An example: replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners. Yegh.

Life Post-Coffee

It’s officially been 10 days that I have been caffeine free, and while I do miss it a lot, I’m no longer having intense headaches. But brain fog is occasionally creeping in. It takes time for the body to reach homeostasis. It can take approximately 10 days for withdrawal symptoms to stop, but at least a month or more to feel right as rain. And as far as how much it takes to resume the addiction? The best info I have found thus far is 100 milligrams (or approx. 1 cup coffee, or 1 ounce of espresso) per day. How many days in a row is uncertain.

While we’ve all heard life is short, I view life as long. And yes, our last day is always uncertain. But if we are on the search for a healthier life, we must be open to trying new things that encourage health. Considering we are to live a long life, eliminating something from our diet for a short time to explore its effect on our body makes it a little easier. In other words: take a step back and look at the big picture. What is true is this: YOLO!!!

Ultimately, I want to be in a position where I don’t rely on coffee. I would rather it be a beverage that I enjoy once in a while – caffeinated or not. This definition of once in a while: once a month or less. When we indulge in certain foods or drinks that are not present in our daily diet, we enjoy and appreciate them more in that moment. This can be true for alcohol, chips, cookies, cake or pie.

I can speak on a personal note in regards to alcohol. I love wine! Here is a sad secret: years ago, I could drink a bottle of wine in a night. I am a small lady. While someone of my size should not be consuming that much alcohol, no one of any size should be consuming that much! My consumption decreased significantly through the years, but I had continued to drink regularly throughout the week. It wasn’t until this past year I stopped feeling so attached to it. I very rarely come home from work and feel like I need to drink to calm my nerves, instead I practice yoga. At gatherings, I’m happy with one drink. My past self would be scoffing in disbelief, but I’m thanking myself now!

Can You Relate?

If you relate in some way, whether it is in relation to coffee, sweets, carbs, portion sizes, cheese, or even ending a relationship with someone – what have you! – know that challenges are present with change. When you are ready to make changes with your diet, be brave! If it was easy, you probably would have succeeded already and it wouldn’t have even been a big deal. Know that your reward will be totally worth it. Through the process, you develop awareness, know yourself more, appreciate more, and feel healthier!

If you have questions or comments, please leave a message below! And you can always contact me privately here.

Have a fabulous Sunday,
Alyssa

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