Last week I introduced Coffee Talk, a series designed to provide information on coffee, how it affects the body, what happens when you drink too much of it, how to know if/when you need a break from it and what you can do to support yourself if you do. As an avid coffee drinker myself who has embarked on a recent coffee strike, I found that doing the research for this talk has been a big eye opener for me and has helped me to reevaluate my own relationship/dependency on it. I hope it provides you with the right tools to help you too if you’re also in the same boat!
(If you missed it, the first segment was Part One: The Effects of Coffee. Have a read through that first if you haven’t already!)
Part Two: How to Break up with coffee
Has your relationship gone too far?
For most healthy people, having a cup of coffee is fine. It’s when that relationship goes one step further and you start to depend on it throughout your day to get through. This is when the problems start occurring.
Heart palpitations, anxiety, insomnia/restless sleep, digestive issues, skin problems (acne, eczema, psoriasis), sluggish liver, headaches/migraines, hormonal imbalances (irregular/painful periods), mood swings and adrenal fatigue are just some of the problems that can happen when that caffeine consumption increases. So if you’re experiencing any of these, perhaps it’s time to take a step and reevaluate your relationship with coffee. Are you too clingy and dependent on it? Could you use a break?
But why do I love it so much?
This is biggest thing to overcoming any addiction, whether it be coffee or otherwise, is being honest and asking yourself, “why am I doing it?” If you’re drinking it for energy, then ask yourself why you’re so tired. Is it because of restless sleep, stressful lifestyle, or not prioritising self care? If you’re drinking it for comfort, ask yourself what you’re needing comfort from? If you’re drinking it for “the buzz,” ask yourself why you need to feel that to be happy. Once you have the answers, it will become a little easier for you to understand what to do, and the underlying issues you need to deal with. Without looking at these, the process becomes harder. You might have a break from it, but you’ll fall straight back into old dependent habits if the underlying why hasn’t been addressed.
I think we need some time apart
Taking a break from something you love is never easy, and coffee is no exception. If you’re going to take some time away from it after being a long term lover of it, your body can experience withdrawal symptoms like:
- Headaches: this is the most common one, and many people (even the one cup a day drinkers) will experience this when coming off coffee.
- Fatigue: last week we looked into how coffee can change your chemical make up in the brain by increasing it’s adenosine receptor sites. It’s this increase that makes us so tired, because now that there’s no influx of caffeine to block these receptors, there’s a lot more for adenosine to attach to, increasing that feeling of tiredness. Plus you’re no longer getting that stimulation or “buzz” that you’re used to.
- Nausea: not as common, but can still occur for some people as the body starts to detox from the caffeine.
Taking care of yourself during the break up
Just as you would with any other break up, it’s important to take care of yourself to reduce these symptoms. The length, severity and what you experience is really down to the individual, for some it only lasts a couple of days and for others it lasts for 1-2 weeks. But by supporting your body by doing the following things can help to reduce your symptoms:
Do not underestimate just how important water is during your break (and for your overall health too!). Adequate hydration will help with digestion, detoxification, headaches and fatigue, so ensure you’re drinking 3-4L of water a day. Especially in that first week when the symptoms are typically the strongest.
A glass of water with lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) upon waking
Instead of rolling out of bed and reaching for a coffee, make yourself a glass of water with the juice of half a lemon or tablespoon of ACV added to it (or both if you’re game!). If you prefer warm drinks, have a mug of warm water (not hot) instead! The water helps to hydrate you and wake you up, and the lemon and ACV both help to stimulate the release of digestive juices and enzymes, and also supports the liver’s natural detoxification process, helping with reducing your symptoms.
Take advantage of the tiredness and catch up on ZZZ’s
You may find you’re more tired than usual. Take advantage of this and go to bed early and get yourself that good night’s sleep you’ve been needing. Your mind and body will appreciate you giving it the rest it needs, especially if your sleep wasn’t great while you were drinking coffee.
Gentle, restorative movement over high intensity workouts
For the first few days when the symptoms seem to be the most intense, don’t push your body too hard while it’s going through this detox. It is however, a good idea to still move your body to help support the lymphatic system, digestive system and keep things moving. Choose gentle, restorative movements like Yin Yoga classes, walks in nature (around the park, by the beach etc) and swimming (especially in the ocean – which is so refreshing and cleansing). Once you have built your energy levels back up and you feel ready, then start incorporating your usual work outs in again.
Peppermint oil for headaches
Caffeine headaches are no joke, but dabbing a drop or two on the temples or on the area where it most aches, can really help to alleviate some discomfort.
Magnesium is a wonderful mineral, helping with muscle cramping, stiffness, headaches, stress, anxiety and nervous tension. You can take Magnesium as a supplement (always under the guide of a health practitioner), but my favourite way to use it is in bath salts because then you have a great excuse to run yourself a relaxing bath! Add some lavender oil too for relaxation and it’s a wonderful way to treat yourself during this break.
Up your intake of nourishing food
In the last post, we talked about supporting the liver by reducing the workload it has to do. Eating lots of nourishing wholefoods (in particular leafy green veggies as these are so great for the liver), and less sugar, alcohol, and processed foods in this time means that the liver is able to work more efficiently.
It’s hard to walk away
Finding it hard to take a prolonged break from it? That’s ok! It’s not easy, especially if it’s been a big part of your day for a long time. Why not start slow and give one of the following suggestions a try?
- Reduce the amount you’re having each day: If you usually have 3 cups a day, reduce it to two cups for the week or two, then reduce it again by another cup for another week or two, until you’re down to none. Reducing it over time makes the adjustment a lot easier for the mind and the body to cope with.
- Take a couple of days off each week: Prefer to drink coffee on weekdays? Make your weekends your coffee free days. Schedule in 1-2 days each week where you go coffee free, because even a couple of days each week without it is a great step. Gradually increase these days off until you get to the point where you’re ready to take a longer amount of time off from it.
If you’re game on giving it a go, I have some delicious recipes coming your way next week as part of the last installment of this series! One is for a medicinal mushroom spiked hot chocolate and the other is a turmeric and ginger latte, as well a list of other tasty beverages you can enjoy on your break!
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email on email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you!