It’s a New Year, and although I’m not big on resolutions, I know many people are. A time to start fresh and make positive changes. I’m cool with that – any day is a good day to improve your life! So today I’m going to discuss quitting coffee. I’ll explain how and why I quit coffee and how you can do it too. This is a touchy subject for many people, so you are going to have to trust me – I’ve been there!
You have so many amazing qualities. My favorites include the warm cup in my hands, the comforting smell, the smooth and slightly bitter taste. You were there for me in the morning when I could barely keep my eyes open. You kept me going through long, stressful afternoons at work. You were my go-to drink when hanging out with friends in the evening.
But our relationship had to end. I realized that you had become a crutch for me. A way to pump me up and get me through my day. An addiction. And that’s not me. I didn’t like needing a caffeine boost to function. So, I had to make a change. I had to quit and it wasn’t easy.
Sounds dramatic, huh? If you love coffee and much as I did, I know you feel exactly the same way! So if I love it so much, why did I quit?
In 2009, I was desperately seeking improvements in my overall health. I was suffering from chronic low back pain, fatigue, insomnia, eczema, and GI issues. I also had a dark cloud hanging over me and was not handling stress AT ALL. Through a series of fortunate events, I was introduced to a holistic practitioner who diagnosed me on the spot with severe Adrenal Fatigue. In his words, one of the worst cases he had come across. Never having heard of this diagnosis before, I was skeptical, but in urgent need of help, so I immediately vowed to do whatever it took to get better.
My recovery could be a series of posts, and someday I will get to writing them up, but today we will focus on my caffeine addiction.
My second appointment with this physician was just as intense as the first. We spent about an hour discussing my diet and lifestyle and he dropped some pretty big bombs on me. I was a “healthy” eater – low-fat and whole grain foods were staples in our house. I didn’t drink soda or sports drinks.
Adrenal fatigue patients usually have difficulty with regulating blood sugar. We tend to have big hypoglycemic drops shortly after meals, especially meals full of highly refined carbs. So we crash and need a pick me up. For me that was caffeine in the form of coffee.
These were the guidelines he laid out for me: Step one – eat a high fat breakfast to keep me satiated and awake throughout the morning. Step two – eat a high fat and moderate protein lunch to keep me from having an afternoon slump. Step three – no carb filled snacks or pasta dinners. In fact, no high carb foods after 3PM. Oh, and no more coffee. The caffeine was messing with my Cortisol levels and contributing to my Adrenal Fatigue. Holy moly – what was I going to eat and how was I going to stay awake?
Around this time my husband stumbled across the Paleo/Primal style of eating. It seemed to line up with the above guidelines, so we dove in. I’ll save the diet details for another post so we can focus on the caffeine part of the story.
How I Finally Ditched My Caffeine Habit
- I did not quit cold turkey. This might work for some, but I already knew that if I missed a cup of coffee, I paid for it with a monster of a headache. So here is how I tackled this (it took me 4 weeks): Each week I cut my coffee consumption in half. I did this by filling my cup with half of a serving and either diluting it with a little water or adding more cream (since I was all about healthy fats now!). By the fourth week, I had made it through the quitting process with minimal headaches!
- I have a pretty strong will. If I decide I want to change something, I do it. Lucky for me I have never really had trouble making dietary changes. I convince myself that the item I no longer want in my diet is unhealthy and it helps me kick it to the curb.
- Knowing that part of my addiction was comfort and routine, I decided to allow myself a healthful substitute. Warm mugs of herbal teas and decaf Chai tea took the place of that cup of coffee. I wish that my friend, Jessica from Delicious Obsessions, had been selling her Herbal Coffee e-book at the time, because they are a perfect substitute for a cup of regular coffee!
What I Recommend to Take the Place of Your Daily Cup of Coffee
- Like I mentioned above, my friend, Jessica of Delicious Obsessions, has come out with a Herbal Coffee e-book. I love this book! This book tells you everything you could want to know about her herbal coffees AND gives you a bunch of recipes to make your own coffee house style drinks at home. I’ve been enjoying the herbal coffees with a splash of vanilla and some coconut milk (blended with an immersion blender) and topped with some cinnamon (as pictured above). Noms!
- I find that caffeine-free Chai teas are a great substitute for coffee. Warm, spicy, and comforting, a mug filled with Chai tea and some coconut milk is deliciously perfect. Mountain Rose Herbs carries my favorite organic Rooibos Chai here.
- Herbal teas are another great way to still have a tasty warm beverage without the jolt of caffeine from a cup of coffee. I love the Traditional Medicinals line and always have peppermint and ginger in my cabinet!
- Finally, I do allow myself an occasional cup of high-quality, decaf coffee that is well sourced. I don’t do this often, just as an occasional treat. I keep this indulgence to a minimum for two reasons. The slippery slope of reintroducing addictive behaviors and the fact that coffee is a cross-reaticive food with gluten. So…if you are sensitive to gluten (as I am), your best bet is to steer clear of food that may cause cross reactions. For a more detailed explanation, please see this post by The Paleo Mom.