Quitting caffeine changed my life and today marks my 100th day free of coffee.
You may be going “what?!” “Why would you do that??!”
What prompted my idea to give up coffee was a nutrition event I attended last October as part of Kerri Glassman’s Nutrition School . The two-day seminar was chock full of exciting lectures and talks dealing with nutrition and wellness.
One of my favorite speakers was Alissa Vitti. She cleared up many many misconceptions about the menstrual cycle and how PMS is not something that should be happening to you. She talked about how your lifestyle and diet can affect your body and cause all kinds of hormonal issues. It was extremely eye-opening.
One food in particular that piqued my curiosity was when she talked about the dangers of caffeine and coffee. She had stated that if you are suffering from acne breakouts or PMS. It can be attributed to caffeine.
We hear countless studies about the benefits of coffee, but we hardly hear too much about its negative effects. Especially how it can cause hormonal problems for women.
As some who really enjoyed her cup of coffee in the morning, this came as a big shock to me.
Did you know that excess caffeine consumption can alter blood sugar, overstimulate your adrenal glands, and affect elimination which will disrupt your hormonal imbalance?
After the lecture, I thought about all the caffeine I was consuming. I never thought about the how my cycle was being affected. Based on Vitti’s criteria your hormones can be altered if your period is too long, too heavy or even a certain color. This was never something that was taught in school. Looking at the warning signs I put together that my hormonal balance was off based on her criteria.
I looked down at the cup of coffee in my hands and thought maybe I should start cutting back.
I went home and started looking up more on the dangers of coffee consumption and found studies showing that it can make you more tired which leads to drinking more coffee and continue on into a vicious cycle.
From that point on I had wanted to give up coffee but It was just so hard to do. It was a part of my daily routine. I was going to the coffee shop to work on my blog and or we would go down to the shore and get a coffee on the weekends. I was having coffee almost every day of the week and felt dependent on it.
The funny thing is that I never really drank coffee too much in my life up until the past couple years. I never liked the way it tasted and only had it on the weekends when I went down the shore. Coffee was also a last minute attempt to jump start my energy when on vacation.
That was until I went back to school to become a dietitian. Somewhere along the way (and I cannot remember exactly when) I started getting coffee to help me stay up and study for my midterms. Even though it was sporadic I found myself always getting a coffee if I went to visit my mom, or were out with people and they were going to Starbucks.
Then came my dietetic internship with Aramark and it was all down hill from there. I had free rein to consume all the caffeine I wanted. Unlimited tea and coffee was offered to all the employees and I was there every day filling up my cup. Sometimes I would have 2 cups to get me through that afternoon slump.
After attending the lecture last fall, I had been meaning to give up coffee for a bit to see if it helped prevent the massive breakouts I was getting when my period hit. At the time I was not having a lot of grains, dairy and was limiting my added sugar intake so I figured it must be another source.
I kept just putting it off and putting it off. Every morning on my way to work I somehow could not overcome the power to drive into the Starbucks parking lot and order a tall Americano. It was not until June that I actually stopped drinking coffee and the only thing that stopped me was that I was late one day for work and didn’t have time to stop for a coffee.
The one thing that actually stopped me from continuing coffee consumption was that I was running late one day and did not have time to stop for coffee.
That day was a struggle I had a massive headache and was a little tired, but I carried on. I went home got a good night’s rest and then worked the caffeine out of my system.
As each day went by my caffeine addiction got less and less. After a week I was really proud of my self then I slowly no longer wanted caffeine.
I was curious to see how long I could go without coffee and today is day 100 free of coffee.
The reason why I wrote this post was I wanted I want to to alert you to the dangers of caffeine. I felt like I was a slave to the java for quite some time. Driving to work I could not help turn my car into the direction of the Starbucks parking lot. I would get coffee maybe 2 or 3 times. I never did this before when I was in college the first time but I had pressure to get projects done and needed to stay up. I realized I liked the feeling of being caffeinated it was a boost of energy I was missing. But I soon felt not so great in my skin. I was starting to break out every month. I began to wonder if it was my period or something I was eating.
I was always aware of what I was putting into my body, but I soon realized my hormones could still be off due to the breakouts and cramping I was experience around my cycles. At this time I was not eating a lot of dairy or grains so I thought maybe it could be the coffee I was drinking.
The problem with caffeine is that it is a physically addicting substance and it can shift the chemistry of your body. Human studies have shown that caffeine increases blood pressure along with cortisol and epinephrine at rest. These are the fight or flight hormones that occur during times of stress. So in effect drinking caffeine can lead to put un-need stress on the body.
People also tend to drink coffee in times of stress such as studying for an exam to pull an all nighter. This puts even more pressure on on the body which can be bad in the long run.
Another thing to note about caffeine is that it can increase insulin levels. A study of 16 adults showed an increase in blood sugar levels after 12 hours of consumption. So daily coffee consumption may lead to insulin sensitivity.
Coffee can also increase inflammation in the body. Another study found that high coffee consumption increases inflammation in the body. When compared to non coffee drinkers, men who consumed more than 200 mL of coffee a day had a 30 percent higher C-reactive protein (CRP) an inflammatory marker as well as 3 percent higher white blood cell (WBC) counts. Women who consumed more than 200 ml of coffee had a 38 percent higher CRP and 4 percent higher WBC counts than those who did not drink coffee.This is something to consider if you have an autoimmune condition like hypothyroid or rheumatoid arthritis.
As you can see since coffee affects your body and in effect can effect your hormones.
I am not expecting you to quit coffee yourself, but I just wanted to share my experience and how it improved my life.
If you depend on a lot of coffee to get through your day you might want to scale back to one cup a day. If you are having irregular menstrual cycles or really heavy periods and bad PMS it could be messing with your hormones or immunity.
After quitting coffee I feel a lot better. Know that you do not need to rely on coffee for energy. The best way to keep your energy going is take care of yourself. Consume a diet low in sugar (less than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons), rich in vegetables and other nutrients, get plenty of rest, learn how to cope with stress, exercise daily, and drink plenty of water.
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