I first started my coffee addiction the way I assume it begins with most young teens...Starbucks Frappuccinos. Now if you are familiar with these, they are basically just milkshakes with like, a splash of coffee to justify themselves as a substitution for black coffee. My FAVORITE was a Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino with the ingredients as follows: Ice, Milk, Crème Frappuccino Syrup [Water, Sugar, Salt, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid], Whipped Cream [Cream (Cream, Mono And Diglycerides, Carageenan), Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid)], Mocha Sauce [Water, Sugar, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Vanillin], Peppermint Syrup [Sugar, Water, Natural Flavor, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid], Dark Chocolate Curls [Sugar, Chocolate Mass (Processed With Alkali), Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract]. Consisting of only 10mg caffeine, 55 grams of sugar, and 410 calories. Kill me. In my opinion, my new and improved paleo version could beat this any day, but back then, I was all about it.
Well, that phase lasted for a few years until I became conscious of how food affected my body, and I moved to cleaner coffee versions. Throughout the first two years of college, I ran on 4-5 hours of sleep per night, and 350-500mg of caffeine per day . This usually consisted of iced black coffee with almond milk and stevia. So I applaud young Madi's leap of improvement, but I still had no clue how much this coffee>sleep mentality was causing me.
Around junior year, when I began having more intense stomach issues, I heard of the AIP diet and slowly began implementing it's principles. If you haven't guessed, coffee was the absolute last thing to go. Not only was coffee the only thing keeping me awake in my classes, but it was a huge social thing for me! Coffee and studying, coffee dates, Starbucks runs just for fun, it was like...1/2 my identity and life. When I finally made the leap, I switched to large amounts of highly caffeinated tea, and eventuallyyyyy Kombucha, which I am still a dedicated supporter of.
So as you can tell, all of this was a slow, long journey for me, but when I finally made the leap, I saw HUGE improvements in my health; and those are what I am here to share with you today!
This is not to say that coffee is bad for everyone, or that if you're a healthy person, a cup of black coffee per day is detrimental to your health, it's simply a statement of the negative effects coffee had on my health, and how I improved upon giving it up!
Let's get into it!
#1: Less Acid Reflux
-I had struggled with acid reflux my entire life, but it had gotten so bad in my teenage years, I was on long-term Omeprazole. If you don't know much about the negative long-term effects of Omeprazole, read some case studies! Prolonged acid reducers can have some serious consequences. If I wasn't on Omeprazole, I would feel awful and nauseous all day, but being on it was causing a TON of other issues. One of the biggest issues was the fact that I literally couldn't digest basically anything. This was the time I went completely grain-free and vegan, and basically ate only fruit (without the skin) for an entire 7 months. Acid is often villainized and treated like a totally bad thing. Although too much can cause problems, too little can cause just as many problems! It took me over one year to reintroduce a proper diet...and this has totally turned into an anti-Omeprazole rant. Basically, until I got off of coffee, I couldn't get off of Omeprazole, and Omeprazole ruined my digestion, and there ya go.
#2: Clearer Skin
-The root of my skin issues was for sure hormone imbalance and chronic inflammation, but a contributer to both of these issues were caffeine! Caffeine increases your stress hormones and can increase sebum production. It basically puts your (my) body on overdrive. As I already had hormone issues and chronic inflammation, coffee just inflated the problem and threw my hormones off even more. No thanks.
#3: Fewer Headaches
-Fewer headaches in the sense that I was ADDICTED to caffeine. If I didn't have a coffee-sized dose 2-3x per day, I had awful headaches, problems focusing my vision, and basically just crashed. Yeah, coffee can give you a quick-energy fix, but when you don't have it, you pay the price.
#4: Less Anxiety
-I have an actual diagnosed overactive sympathetic nervous system, which basically means I am in fight or flight mode all the time. Talk about stress. I knew coffee made me physically jittery, but I had no clue how much anxiety it was actually contributing to until I gave it up! I would drink it before games I was cheering, tests, and basically anything that already made crazy nervous. Adding coffee on top of that gave me actual panic attacks where I would have literally chosen death over having to participate in any of those activities.
#5: Ulcers healing and not coming back
-I didn't know a life without ulcers until I gave up coffee. I just thought it was a part of who I was. I couldn't eat anything with citrus, spicy food would kill me, and anything with too much flavor was a no go. It got to the point where I had to CONSTANTLY have some type of bland food in my stomach, hungry or not, or the pain was unbearable. They just seemed to get worse and worse until I kicked the coffee habit.
#6: Fewer Crashes
-Going back to #3, I was a crazy coffee addict, and had to have caffeine in my blood stream at all times. If there was a time it began to fade out, the headaches came back, I craveddd it like I didn't know was possible, and I felt totally out of it until I got more. All was good if I had my coffee, but that wasn't always possible in every situation, and I hated the fact that how I felt was tied to my coffee access. When I gave it up, I felt like I actually had some control over how I felt each day (choosing to get to bed early, eating well, etc.), and it gave me a ton of freedom back.
Those were my top 6 changes I saw when I gave up coffee, and it was totally worth it in the end! I definitely took it slow and implemented plenty of substitutes, but once I saw the negative effects it was causing, I kicked my caffeine habit in only a few months! So if coffee/caffeine is working for you, I'm jealous, and keep on enjoying that morning coffee! But, if you're having a bunch of crazy symptoms, it might be time to look into reassessing what works for you. Before I leave you with a: "kick you caffeine habit and say goodbye to fun" message, let me quickly go over what I now consider my coffee substitutes! #1: Kombucha (Gt's is my favorite!) #2: Herbal Teas #3: Crio Bru (incredible if you can tolerate cacao, and the closest thing I have found to replacing coffee!).
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