Image found on Pinterest.
When is the last time you’ve woken up in the morning and thought, ‘that was the best sleep of my life?’ When was the last time that was followed by “AND my weight has been super easy to manage lately too?”
I’ve been exploring this deeper and I think I’ve found the answer to a better nights rest (and a whole lot more).
At least twice a year, I give up coffee. Let’s get one thing straight up – I love coffee. I love the ritual, I love how it brings people to together, I love how it smells and the variations of how it’s prepared. Each year, as we approach the Spring, I set myself up to do my Cleanse Yourself 5 day program, although I tend to set aside a good few weeks (rather than just 5 days) to really do some good inner work. I find my body loves this. A. Lot. Every time I cleanse, I learn new things about myself. Each time I cleanse I feel something different. Some cleanses I feel more emotional, some the withdrawals are hideous and other times, I’m in struggle town for longer than anticipated. But every year one thing remains – by the end of those 5 days, I always feel amazing.
Eliminating something you love can feel really daunting, even if it is only for a short while. I’ll be the first to admit when I’m right up there in my head, that the idea of not having coffee begins to haunt me. I feel rather dramatic saying so, but I know I’m not alone. Literally the first question anybody asks about the cleanse is “do I have to give up my morning coffee?”
It’s widely accepted that coffee is addictive – and I’m living proof. I tend to struggle with withdrawals in it’s absence. And whilst it doesn’t keep me awake at night (I can literally have a coffee right before bed and it do nothing – or so I thought), my body is quick to tell me when I haven’t had one, generally by smacking me down with a whopper headache with all the bells and whistles – think nausea, sometimes vomiting and of course the intense eye pain to really reign it all in.
This time around as I’ve transitioned off coffee, I’ve really observed my body. Mostly because I thought it would be a good experiment and make for a good bedtime story. In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a whole lot more which may be of interest to others who are looking for some answers around coffee and wellbeing. Here’s goes.
Week 1 – withdrawals.
Day 1 – Headache, especially through the eyes and forehead (which relates to the liver and kidneys, hence detoxification).
Day 2 – Lethargy. I don’t necessarily think this is coffee related, but more so the over all feeling of cleansing.
Day 3 – Feeling energised. Still thinking about coffee, but if you’re only committing to 5 days, you know you are half way.
Day 5 – Not thinking of coffee, feeling fabulous and fresh.
Week 2 – heightened wellbeing.
Day 1 – Still not thinking of coffee, feeling vibrant. Eyes are looking brighter and I’m not feeling foggy.
Day 3 – Skin really looking clearer. Eyes bright. Feeling alive.
Day 5 – Sleep is amazing. Deep and restful.
Week 3 – what I wasn’t prepared for.
On the whole, I’m less stressed. Not waking at night and trying to solve the worlds problems.
With week 3 in mind, it was also my menstrual week. This is where I noticed the most changes. I don’t typically suffer from period pain so much these days in comparison to my 20’s. But when I am stressed, I will have more discomfort, I will definitely have ovulation pain (hello oestrogen dominance), tender breasts and noticeable PMS. For this cycle, I experienced NONE of these symptoms. My sleep was deep and if I woke – only because the kids had broken my sleep, I wasn’t worrying myself sick about world issues that I can’t actually solve (a not so pleasant past time).
It dawned on me, that caffeine had more of an impact on my body than I was previously prepared to recognise. Caffeine is known to raise cortisol, which is why it can be a terrible idea for those with hormone imbalance. We all need cortisol as I explain in Debunking Stress. Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones (alongside adrenaline) that is released in times high pressure. It’s completely necessary (and life saving) and helps the body cope especially during long periods of stress. But cortisol is super bossy (but remember that it is supposed to be, it’s trying to save us from ourselves), it reigns strong and tries to control our sex hormones, having the most impact on progesterone as it raises oestrogen. Excess cortisol can lead to a host of symptoms, some including;
+ Increased appetite
+ Weight gain
+ Poor blood sugar regulation (hello PCOS sufferers)
+ Poor memory
+ High blood pressure
+ Hormone Imbalance
I recently read in a study that excess cortisol affects the body’s ability to process certain amino acids – which are oh so important for hormone regulation too.
And then there have been many studies that have also linked caffeine with early miscarriage.
So it seems, that taking a break this time round has shown me far more about my body than I had thought I’d learn. There has not been any downside to stopping coffee other than the social aspect of catching up with girlfriends over my daily dose of caffeine and a good old chin wag. But you know, you don’t actually need the coffee to have the catch up! I’ve had 2 full leaded coffee’s in the last 4 weeks and each time, the following day I’ve experienced a mild headache. It’s enough for me to now choose coffee as a sometimes food, when I feel like a treat (or that I’m ready to pay the consequences).
I know that we all process coffee and caffeine differently – it has to do with our genetic profile, our cortisol levels and stress response, our environment, our liver’s ability to detoxify and our general day to day diet. So for me, as it stands right now, I think leaving it aside is a good choice. I can see some of you pouting at your screen as you say, “but what will I do without my morning fix?” I’ve got your back and a few delicious suggestions.
Bamboo is a powder made from chicory and can be enjoyed as an instant hot drink and is available in Australia at the supermarket or health food store. I love it and it’s my go to replacement. For those who do enjoy a little milky goodness in the morning, this can be a great option. Rooibos is also my other choice, I can easily do the same and add a drop of milk to satisfy the ‘ritual.’
As always, my intention isn’t to frighten the pants off you or make you feel bad for loving coffee. It’s all about sharing information to promote thought in your own life, that perhaps your 2 cups a day habit is standing in the way of you and your healthier self.
Perhaps you’ve refrained from caffeine and noticed great changes. I’d love to create some discussion around your own experience because I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in loving the benefits!