I started drinking coffee in college during all-night study sessions cramming for tests. We would all meet at Denny's where we paid about $2 and could drink as much of this caffeinated goodness that our stomachs could hold. I remember going to class the following morning with major shakes and it's a wonder I ever graduated! The best part of those times was hanging with my friends "studying" and doing way more chatting and coffee drinking than anything. We actually made it fun and looking back, I feel sorry for the waiters that had our table that we would occupy for hours on end with only enough money to pay for the essentials...coffee.
After graduation, I began working at Dell Computers which was my first "real" corporate job. And it wasn't just 9-5, it could sometimes be 7am to 7pm. It was crazy those first few years as the company grew and I was making plenty of money to make up for all the extra hours worked. However, I was tired ALL THE TIME! Then Dell had a fabulous idea...they put a STARBUCKS in our building. It was just a short flight of stairs down to all the coffee, cream and sugar that your heart could desire. And this is when the real habit began.
I would stop at 7-Eleven on the way to work for a huge cup of their coffee and finish it within the first hour of my day. When the mid-morning crash started, I would get a coffee from downstairs at the office. And of course, the afternoon crash was even worse so I would head down again to grab another cup to tide me over until it was time to go home. And I did this every single day. I worked there for ten years and we had our "coffee" groups that would go down and grab our cups together while discussing whatever was happening that day: who's underwear was showing, who came in late, who came back from lunch looking like they got high in the parking lot... and other real important manager stuff. It became a habit. A real habit that was not ever going to break.
I look back to that time in my life and I remember dealing with major stomach issues almost daily, including horrific heart burn and acid reflux, among other icky ailments. It makes sense now: I was eating junky food and fueling myself with caffeinated beverages through each day so I could wake up and do it all over again.
About a year and a half ago I went to a doctor that ran the food sensitivities test on me. I had no idea what to expect when the tests came back, but for some reason, I was shocked at the results. There at the very tippy top of my list of the "foods" I was most sensitive was COFFEE! How was this possible? I loved coffee, it helped me wake up every day. It helped me, not hurt me. I owned two Keurig machines, just in case the unfathomable happened and one didn't work. I was ordering at least $100 a month on those little k-cups. Coffee was my #1 offender and causing many of my issues...I just couldn't grasp this information.
As I drove home and thought more about it, it did start to make sense. I was starting each morning with a hot beverage that didn't work with my system. And it was down-hill from there. I decided it was worth a shot to quit coffee after seeing the results on paper.
That was the last day I drank coffee. Just like that; I quit cold turkey. I felt I had to in order to save my digestive system. and so began my search for alternatives. At the beginning, I would have hot tea instead and I still enjoy hot herbal tea at least once a day. The changes after eliminating coffee were almost immediate...besides that blaring headache that came from the withdrawals. Luckily those went away after a few days.
So for me and my body, coffee wasn't working. I missed it greatly at the beginning but now that I have been coffee-free for over a year, I don't even really think about it anymore.
I tell my clients that are heavy coffee drinkers with any sort of stomach issues to slowly begin weaning off of it. I recommend cutting it down by 1/4 a day. So they will have a cup in the morning and instead of the second, I urge them to have a big glass of water. Many people that drink coffee all day are pretty dehydrated. And for those that don't want to give it up for good (which is fine if your stomach tolerates it), I recommend buying a high quality, organic coffee to enjoy. One of my favorite teas that fill that dark roasted coffee need is Dandy Blend. It is incredible and can be a great way to wean yourself down from any coffee habit. It tastes like coffee but is actually a tea and it is gluten free.
So if you are experiencing any kind of heart burn, acid reflux or other digestive issues, I would recommend cutting out the coffee and see how you feel. You might be shocked, as I was, at how much better I feel without it!
My mission as a Certified Health Coach is to make the world a happier, healthier place, one person, one meal at a time, with love and gratitude. I work to inspire others to live a life of prevention and overall wellness!