I’m so, so excited to kick off the next Fresh Start Cleanse. This is one of my favorite programs. I absolutely adore the group dynamic – the interaction and support of participants is both fun and powerful. People coming together with a common goal truly elicit major shifts.
One of the components of this program is the reduction or elimination of stimulants over the course of 2 weeks. This includes caffeine and alcohol. Coffee and wine. Common bookends to the day, these two things are the hardest for most participants to let go of.
So why do we give them up in the first place?
Well, the program is designed to streamline your current diet. This means clearing out any foods that are tough to digest, as well as foods (and drinks!) that are potentially allergenic or addictive. Now since caffeine and alcohol are both drugs, it’s possible to become physically addicted to them. But I’ve also found that many people form an emotional attachment to these things as well (which is why a major component of the Fresh Start cleanse is exploring the whys of those attachments).
Anyway you swing it, it’s important to take a look at where you stand with your consumption. Have you ever given up coffee for a period of time? What did you notice the first few days? Pretty brutal, right? The headaches, lethargy, anxiousness, irritability & grouchiness – that’s withdrawal from a drug. If you just NEED a cup of coffee to get out of bed in the morning, or are reaching for a cup of joe as soon as your energy dips throughout the day, that’s dependency on a drug. (Please note this also applies to soda, energy drinks, and other forms of caffeine here.)
So today, let’s shine the spotlight right on that caffeine drug and how it affects the body.
For starters, it ain’t all bad. Since caffeine stimulates central nervous system, you can experience positive side effects like an increase in concentration and alertness, or even a little extra pep in your step during a workout. But realize that that energy bump is only temporary.
Tired & Crabby
Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline – that kick ass fight-or-flight hormone we all know and love. The bummer is that when the adrenaline wears off (which it always does), our energy dips way low, making us feel worse than when we started off. So what happens next? We reach for another latte. Or Red Bull. Or Diet Coke. The adrenal glands have quite a few jobs in our bodies, such as producing hormones, maintaining sodium balance, and regulating blood sugar. But when we burn them out with this constant caffeine cycle, then shit – they’re just not doing their jobs as well! It’s like going to work with a hangover – you’re there, you’re working, but it’s basically Half Ass Central. We don’t want hungover, half-assed adrenal glands.
Caffeine inhibits the absorption of quite a few vitamins and minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and B vitamins. So I know you’re focused on eating healthy (or else you wouldn’t be here), but when you’re sipping on coffee and other caffeinated bevvies throughout the day, you’re not taking in all the nutrients you could be from your food. What a shame! AND! Since caffeine-containing drinks tend to be super acid-forming in the body, when we consume them frequently, our body can pull calcium from the bones and teeth in order to neutralize the acidic effects. This obviously isn’t great for the structure of our bones and teeth.
The acidity in coffee can also be to blame for stomach and GI issues, like heartburn, GERD, indigestion or just plain ol’ sour stomach,
Do I have to give up coffee forever?!
This is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive at the end of my cleanses.
Here’s the deal - I’m here to report the facts, not preach to you about why you can never drink coffee again. That would be a) exhausting and b) hypocritical, since I drink coffee myself. So I provide the insight, but then it’s up to you what you do with the info. Ya dig?
Start by asking yourself some questions:
Do you rely on coffee or caffeine for energy throughout the day?
Does caffeine have less of an effect than it used to? (In other words, do you need to drink more coffee to feel the effects?)
Do you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn?
Is your morning coffee a sweet treat?
If you’re nodding your head to these questions, then it’s probably time to shake up your java routine.
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Quantity: How much are you drinking?
Coffee is a diuretic, meaning it stimulates more frequent urination. Not only does this cause you to lose vitamins and minerals through your pee, it’s also dehydrating for the body. Most of us aren’t drinking enough water as is. Add caffeine to the mix, and you’re a Parched Patty! Look at your coffee consumption in relation to the amount of water you drink. If your water intake does not DRASTICALLY exceed your coffee intake, then you’ve got a problem. For every cup of joe you drink, drink two glasses of water. If you’re drinking more than one cup of coffee each day, then try replacing one of those cups with herbal tea or low-caffeine green tea.
Quality: What kind are you drinking?
Coffee is one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops in the world. You don’t want to start your day slugging down a toxic wash. That’s just gross. So if you’re drinking coffee, definitely buy organic! My favorite is Vermont Coffee Company (which is also fair-trade, meaning the farmers are paid a fair price for their crop). If you’re sippin’ outside of home, then seek out coffee shops that brew organic coffee.
Add-ins: Is that really coffee in your cup? Or are you drinking a dessert?
A medium regular coffee (cream and sugar) from Dunkin Donuts has 250 calories, 9 grams of fat and 37 grams of sugar.
A 20-ounce Caramel Frappaccino from Starbucks has 510 calories, 17 grams of fat and 81 grams of sugar.
…and that’s not even breakfast!! Drink your coffee black, or with a splash of organic cream or nondairy milk. Leave the sugars, artificial sweeteners and creamers behind.
For a complete daily play-by-play on how to scale back the caffeine without any nasty withdrawal side effects, you’ll want to read my Wean the Caffeine Guide.
You’ll learn what else caffeine is doing inside your body, how to experiment with different morning elixirs and midday pick-me-ups, ways to reduce your caffeine consumption, but most importantly, understand WHY it’s so important to do so.
The Wean the Caffeine Guide will be sent to you upon registration of the Fresh Start Cleanse, providing ample time to scale back the caf before you dive in to your fresh start!