25 August 2014
I think you should give up coffee.
Yes you. You reading this blog. You should give it a go.
6 months ago those words were uttered to me and my reaction was probably fairly similar to your reaction right now. My spine tingled, my gut clenched and my mind raced to find one thousand reasons why I could go against medical advice and keep drinking it. Not coffee! My diet is so clean, everything is organic. For God’s sake, even my toilet cleaner is organic! Please, please, please don’t say that. Surely my body can handle just one coffee a day!
Given I had been suffering from a bout of migraine headaches, I wasn't really in a position to bargain. I really didn't feel particularly well, so, reluctantly I heeded the advice and stopped drinking my one delicious coffee per day.
Now it is not so much what happened when I gave up coffee that is important, but, what happened when I actually drank it again. Previously, I could swear black and blue that I didn’t ever feel any effects of caffeine. I could drink that one coffee every day and I didn't feel a ‘pick me up’ nor any other bodily effects. I was somehow “immune” to the caffeine and therefore could merrily drink it with no worry about my liver and adrenal glands.
And then……after about 4 months without coffee, I had one. I know, such a rebel! And I loved it. It smelt great, it tasted great. Initially I felt kind of happy. A little excited. Maybe even a little high? A little burst of energy. But there was also this kind of fog feeling. To see things clearly, and to think clearly, I had to work extra hard. This kind of settled after an hour and I thought I would be fine.
A normal day with phone calls and clients rolled out and that’s when things started to get a bit weird. I noticed that every time my phone rang I was kind of a little paranoid. Who was ringing and what did they want? What had I done wrong? With every question I was asked, I was on the defence, trying to justify my existence in this world. And with every silent moment, I felt this doubt and fear simmer right through my solar plexus. I doubted that I knew what I was doing. I doubted that I could trust my judgement. And I worried about what if this….what if that…..what about then. It was totally irrational and I could see it very clearly, but no matter what I did, I could not convince myself that I could trust myself.
It was such a bizarre feeling and I just got through the day and out the other side as best I could. Surely the coffee couldn't have done that to me? But it did make sense given my DNA testing had revealed I was a slow metaboliser of caffeine.
1 month later, I had a real coffee again without knowing it. (Evidence based practice!……double blind controlled study - told you I did scientific research!!!) The order was mixed up and I drank a real coffee rather than a decaf. I found this out when I went to my local cafe the following day. AHhhh….that explained that weird anxiety/fear/doubt that was bubbling away in my gut all the previous day.
So it made me think. I wonder if this happens to other people? Is this how I lived my life for the last 15 years? Making decisions from that place of doubt and fear with a low level anxiety bubbling away. Is this how people in our modern world are operating?
I relayed this story to a friend the other morning and she explained to me a very similar experience. She had recently given up coffee after going to a health retreat. She said when she then drank coffee one day, she realised how she panicked when urgent work came up. Rather than being able to just deal with it, there was a whole feeling of fear and panic that came with it.
When I have looked at caffeine before from a “health” perspective, I have always considered the effects on the liver and the adrenals. Never before have I considered that it can have a profound effect on our emotional wellbeing. On our ability to make decisions. On our ability to be rational. On our ability to be alert and deal with urgent matters.
It likely doesn't effect everyone the same. It depends on your genetic makeup (And you can test this). But I would highly highly highly encourage everyone to give it up and see how your body and mind responds. For now, I am sticking with the pure swiss water filtered decaf as that seems to taste good and have no effects on my mental, emotional or physical well being…….well not that I’ve noticed yet anyway!