Coffee.. just saying the word (well writing it), makes me start to salivate. The smell, the taste, the moment that first sip touches your taste buds and makes it way into your stomach – it’s like a little piece of heaven. Such is the deep feelings and connection I have with coffee, it truely is almost a love affair.
For a long time coffee got me through the day. That is no longer the case and my relationship with coffee has changed. And in full transparency I sit here writing this with a cup of coffee beside me.
Like many coffee became about the hit, the buzz, the need for energy. This was more to do with the caffeine within the coffee not the actual coffee itself. I started to consume more and more to help me get through the day.
My addiction was most certainly fuelled by accessibility. I co-owned Wendy’s stores at the time – for those that don’t know this was an Australian ice cream franchise – and we had a coffee machine in both stores. Unlimited access. I went from here to working at a cocktail bar, where there were often times I was pulling 12-14hour days. Again with free access to the coffee machine. I got to the point I was literally shooting double shots of coffee to make sure I was able to stay not only awake but be vibrant and aware of what was going on during the evening. See I was the floor manager and the office manager. So I’d spend some of the day in the office and head out to run the floor in the evening. And no one wants a tired floor manager. Long days equate to less time to sleep so that resulted in the need for more coffee.
It didn’t stop there. From here I scored my dream job at Aldi. The first year in that job was intense and my coffee habit very quickly crept up to 4-6 espresso shots a day and often the odd energy drink. This all up was around 4-5 years of my life.
The realisation that maybe this much coffee wasn’t good for me came when I began to see a Nutritionist for some hormonal and weight issues I was experiencing.
I began putting on weight which was not shifting with exercise or more dieting. In fact it seemed to be keep creepy on.
Around this time I decided to go off contraception to see if this would have any impact. Nope it just highlighted that I also had underlying hormonal issues. My Nutritionist also discovered some digestive complaints.
I can still remember when the Nutritionist told me I had to cut out my coffee. It literally almost paralysed me. She must have seen the horror or maybe it was panic in my face because she very nicely told me that I could have 1 or 2 cups a day between 10am and 2pm with food. I remember her afterwards saying I must have caught her at a weak moment as she is not usually that lenient with clients.
I did the 1-2 cups for a few weeks then we got some tests results back which was the wake up call I needed. I stopped – no coffee. And I did this for 9 months. And the results were evident. Those tests that I had turned around.
What I did learn in that time of abstinence was that I actually enjoyed the taste of coffee. The coffee was also more than the caffeine – it doesn’t actually take long for the need for the caffeine to leave. Coffee for me was time to take moments in my day. Time to get up away from my desk and move some stagnant energy. Time to sit and converse with friends.
This was a bit of an ah-huh for me.
There was other ways I could get those moments. I had switched my coffees for an infused chai. This met the needs of being able to stop and have moments without the caffeine hit.
The need to take a break and move that stagnant energy can be spent doing a little walking or stretching.
This really shifted my relationship with coffee.
It also made it very obvious the effects that coffee (caffeine) has on me. When you are in your coffee fuelled haze it can be hard to notice the effects. The more you have the more you are blunted to them. Removing it and then allowing your body to recalibrate before consciously adding it back is a super interesting experiment to do. And everybody will have a different response as we all will metabolise caffeine differently.
Having that sharper awareness of how coffee effects me I am much more mindful at when to have one and when to stay away. Because even to this day there will be periods that I have a break or cut back my intake. It’s all about being able to read the signs and symptoms your body is giving to you and responding to them.
Do you need to break up with coffee?