For REAL this time.
First of all, sorry for my slight hiatus, I got busy in April studying for a Naturopath exam and totally neglected my blog in the process. Afterwards, I had so many ideas I couldn't seem to form a cohesive thought and figured I'd rather take a break from blogging for a bit, in fear of my posts appearing forced.
What's the first thing you feel or think when you hear the word "Coffee"?
Good morning? Energy boost? Hug in a mug? Sweet Nectar of Life?
To me, coffee is all these things and more. I LOVE coffee. I love the taste, the smell, the comfort, especially on a cold, dreary day, I love the sound of it percolating... But as much as I love it, I sort of also hate it. Why? I'm glad you asked!
First of all, it makes me anxious big time. While the effects aren't immediate, they seem to build up over time, especially if I drink more than three cups per week (yes, you read that correctly). Coffee for me is a treat, but with summer here, I've been treating myself to iced coffees and my quota has increased. I first noticed this anxiety-inducing effect on a trip to Halifax with my family last May.
Things were going well in my personal and work life, but the day we were leaving to go, I noticed Bennett, my then almost-three-year old didn't want to eat his lunch. He seemed fine otherwise, but I worried he was getting sick. That first night at the hotel he woke up crying in the night and it launched me into a full-blown panic attack. Whether I feared he was actually sick (he was, he had a nasty fever the next day and we ended up taking him to outpatients), or whether it was the combination of being awoken in the middle of the night, I don't know, but it forced me to whip out my phone and do some research because I knew that those events themselves weren't enough to make me feel that panicked.
The only thought that came to mind that night that could have provoked this state of anxiety was "I've been drinking a lot of coffee lately, I wonder if that has anything to do with it". Sure enough, all these articles came up highlighting the link between coffee consumption and anxiety.
So what's the unfortunate deal?
Our bodies produce this neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (or GABA). GABA helps calm our system (it's actually known as Nature's Valium), but the more coffee we drink, the lower our GABA stores get, which can lead to increased anxiety.
After reading this I decided to give up coffee for a month to see how I felt and sure enough, no anxiety whatsoever. Buuuut, as we all know, bad habits can creep back in and I slowly starte indulging again
Cue event #2!
This past weekend I went to NS to visit my parents. The night before I, of course, slept like garbage because my mind was running wild with "did I pack everything, will we make the boat on time, etc." thoughts. I grabbed a coffee at the Irving, stayed up later than normal that night, woke up early the next morning, and of course, grabbed another coffee the next day. I was tired and relying on coffee, but it was affecting my sleep, making me more tired, making me reach for more coffee. Vicious cycle!
Here are some other not-so-great things coffee can do:
Coffee, with its energy-promoting properties can actually raise our cortisol (stress) hormones in the process. This increase in cortisol leads to increases in blood sugar, which in turn convert to fat, particularly around the belly. And where coffee tends to be quite acidic, it can also lead to bloating, causing even more of a belly! DAMN YOU COFFEE!
Sleep Disturbances (as mentioned)
Some people swear they can drink coffee right before bed and they aren't affected. Others know that if they have it any time past noon, they'll be up all night counting sheep. While everyone is different, coffee has been known to cause sleep disturbances, especially with regards to our deepest sleep cycles.
Unfortunately, these are the cycles that are the most restorative and healing, so if you're missing out on these and relying on coffee for that morning boost, you may want to find alternatives.
Alternatives to coffee? Come on woman, stop your crazy talk! I know, I know, you're skeptical. I was too, but here are some great options if you're really serious about taking a break from the java:
WATER? Snooze... Seriously though, water can work wonders as a coffee alternative at getting you going (mentally speaking) in the morning. Most mornings, we wake up quite dehydrated, so pounding back a glass or two (or three) of water first thing can help us re-hydrate and give us a little extra pep. It also helps clear away brain fog. Add a little squeeze of lemon if you like for added benefits.
Dandelion Root Tea
My co-worker Alaina introduced me to Dandelion Root Tea last summer when she was doing our 28-Day Restorative Detox Program. The Detox eliminates caffeine and Alaina knew she needed an alternative. One day I walked into the clinic and it smelled as though she was baking a chocolate cake. In fact, she was roasting dandelion roots in the oven! She then proceeded to grind them in the coffee grinder and percolated them like she would coffee. The result was so close to coffee that if she would have handed me a cup, without me knowing what it was, I don't think I would have known it wasn't coffee. While it is fairly easy to make yourself, it can also be purchased in tea bag form. We carry the Teeccino brand with chicory root and clients love it! We also like that dandelion has the added benefit of being a great detoxifier, especially for the liver.
Fresh Leaf Tea
We got onto the Fresh Leaf tea from a wonderful company called Millenia Tea based right here in New Brunswick. The idea is that tea leaves are picked straight from the fields in Kenya, are flash frozen, and then shipped to us. The benefits are amazing and I like that it gives me a clear-headed, zen-like caffeine boost rather than the jittery, heart-pounding caffeine high I get from drinking coffee. We also carry this product at our clinic and it's been a big hit with clients for its metabolism-boosting and antioxidant benefits.
Check them out!
So coffee, I'm sorry. I've tried having you back in my life, but I think we need a little break for now. As much as I love your smooth, silky texture and full-bodied aroma, I need to see past your physical attributes and focus on what's best for myself. You're not good for me and my emotional well-being. I hope we can remain friends. With love, Mila xo