I know my body needs a total break from caffeine – I’ve been working on improving my depleted hormone levels and I specifically need to address stress and cortisol in order to do so. I’ve made many changes to support this – diet, improving sleep, meditation, yoga, reconnecting with activities that bring me joy (horseback riding) – but for the past 5 years, coffe is the one thing I didn’t want to give up. But I know caffeine feeds into my stress issues. If you are curious to learn more more about hormones, I suggest checking out Dr. Jolene Brighton and Dr. Sara Gottfried. I learned about Dr. Brighten from this podcast about female hormones on the Balanced Bites podcast. So informative!
I have also had to address gut health as well, which is so interesting to learn how strongly all these components of health are connected. You can read more about gut health from Chris Kresser here. I would have said my gut health was pretty good after making a bunch of dietary changes, but I have had some lingering issues from years ago that needed to get resolved, in addition to having SIBO, low digestive enzymes, low stomach acid, and low populations of beneficial gut microflora. Phew! It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion and you have to take it one step at a time.
Suffice it to say, it’s time for a caffeine vacation. Here is a recipe for a coffee substitute that I found to be equally satisfying, along with some of the hacks I have tried to ease the transition off of caffeine. It’s a process and I’d say it takes conviction but I am feeling better already.
- 12 oz brewed teeccino
- 1 – 2 scoops peptides
- 1 tsp cacao
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 2 Tbl coconut milk (or other non dairy milk)
- ½ tsp ghee or coconut oil
- ¼ tsp ashwaghanda, maca or cordyceps of choice (Four Sigmatic) - optional
- Brew the Teeccino tea bag just as you would make tea.
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for about 30 seconds.
- Pour and enjoy!
Hacks: please note, these are things that helped me, but you know your body best, so use your discretion.
- I eased the transition off coffee by first slowly increasing the ratio of decaf beans in my coffee – this helped my body get used to less caffeine
- I also slowly decreased the amount of the coffee I was drinking – even when it was 75% decaf, I still focused on needing less to get going in the morning. I went down from a 16 oz, to a 12 oz…..
- Experiment with coffee substitutes that have less caffeine or no caffeine: Choffy, Teeccino, matcha lattes – things that can be frothed and made into fun, satisfying drinks helped me give up my frothy bulletproof coffee lattes.
- Even decaf coffee gives you caffeine – I realized this once I stopped having my 2nd cup of decaf because I still got caffeine withdrawal headaches. So this is the time to go for tea instead – Tulsi Red Chai Masala is one of my favorites for afternoon.
- First thing in morning, have some water with fresh lemon, and
- Add pomegranate to your water to help with headaches (I bought dried powdered pomegranate powder like this).
- Exercise and sunlight – I always felt better after getting in some exercise and getting some natural vitamin D from the sun – take a walk outside in the sunlight even in the winter. Take a friend for bonus points!
- Saunas – if you have access to a sauna somewhere, go.do.it. I can book time in an infrared sauna in my neighborhood which is amazing. Helps you detox and feel amazing. Or take an Epsom salt bath.
- Drink more water!
- Fresh squeezed OJ or grapefruit juice – ideally you want it fresh and you want it organic. I felt so much better with a nice dose of natural vitamin c during the day. There is a connection between vitamin c and balanced hormones, so maybe that was playing into me feeling a little more energized without caffeine in the afternoons. Or maybe it’s a placebo.
- Bone Broth – a hot beverage in general can help any headachy feelings from caffeine withdrawal, and with bone broth it’s win win because it’s also great for your gut.
- If you’re into the extra woo-woo like me: meditation and yoga also helped me feel better during this time. Meditation calms your nervous system, calms your mind, balances your cortisol, and it tends to make me feel all around better. Yoga too – plus the movement gets your blood flowing and can really help with headaches.
- Heart rate monitor: I bought one for some specific exercise work I am doing, but I started tracking my heart rate for fun at other times during the day (I am a total loser, I know). When I take 2 deep breaths, my heart rate goes down. Ad then, I noticed when I started decreasing caffeine, my heart rate was a little lower in general I am not 100% sure it’s the caffeine but the possible connection has been enough positive feedback for me to feel like I see a difference. It’s really interesting to be able to physically see an effect on your body – that’s what helps motivate change.
- And finally – embrace the process! I’m trying to just ride along with the experience and not stress about how perfect I am or how quickly I can get off caffeine. This is ultimately an experiment in self-care, and part of that means don’t stress about it. Don’t judge yourself. If you hate matcha lattes, don’t feel like you’re supposed to drink them (I had a hard time with that flavor for a while but I have gotten used to it).
- Let me know if you are also working on your hormones or reducing caffeine! The more we share, the more we can help one another.