I am passionate about discovering how to experience living wellness. Not just living okay-ness but living well-ness! I am clarifying this for all fellow coffee-lovers out there, to make me look less like a coocoo-crazy person for choosing to cut back on my coffee intake.
My naturopathic provider pointed out that my caffeine consumption was putting too much stress on my body (somewhere in Connecticut a Lorelai Gilmore just fainted). I yelped like I had done when he told me years ago that I would be better off staying away from sugar for a while. But by now, the ability to steer clear of added sugar has become a lifestyle bearing many benefits! I quite enjoy it! But coffee, oh well that's a whole different story. Coffee seems to be that one thing that I could never view myself giving up completely. After some time in self-reflection, I realized that by me not wanting and not willing to give up coffee, I was letting the need for coffee have power over me. I was being controlled by my cravings. I could not live wellness if I was being controlled by my choices. I could not simply talk the talk of wellness, I needed to walk the walk too. And if not drinking coffee was a way to get there, I needed to get my walking shoes on!
Don't Drop the Cup, Keep Reading
Of course, coffee indisputably holds many healthful effects and many studies out there demonstrate it. Caffeine is a stimulant to the nervous system and hence held in high regard to get you through a yawn-filled morning, kick your afternoon sleepy streak, or a late night working session. While a boost in energy can prove helpful when it comes to getting more work done or even rev you up for a better workout, a compound other than caffeine is at the core of coffee’s great rep; antioxidants found in decaffeinated and regular coffee, in moderation, and might I add ‘organic and fair trade’, alike are the true reason your cup of Joe is considered a potentially healthy beverage. A 2005 study on the content of antioxidants in foods put coffee on the top of their list! That clearly helped put unsure coffee drinkers at ease (figuratively speaking) but the findings may have been misleading.
The article explains that there are at least 4000 different antioxidants to be found in various plants and produce across the planet. Antioxidants’ number one job is to protect your body from cell damage caused by free radicals. However, coffee is only on the top of the list as it is loaded with a high concentration of six antioxidants. Six are better than none, but a lot of the same good thing does not translate to more health benefits when it comes to antioxidants. And too much coffee (more than four 8-ounce cups a day), even consumed with the best of intentions, is quickly too much, can still cause high blood pressure, and even lead to early death because of the caffeine-content! Combined with a soda or energy-drink habit and you lead a life on an unhealthy dangerous edge.
If you want to consume less coffee but more antioxidants, the key, you may have guessed it, is to nourish your body with a variety of antioxidants. That is why we don’t live on coffee alone but on every bit of produce God has spoken into existence with his word. Forgive my attempted Christianese (the original verse goes: “(…) to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”).
But beside all these sensible reasons to choose to consume coffee in moderation (again, four 8-ounce cups or less), I came across a motivation of a different color; the nerves. Turns out that my already rather excitable nerves and fast pace heartbeat truly benefit from a rest from caffeine.
A Nervous System
I had no clue that drinking my two large mugs of dark (= less caffeine), organic, fair trade, French-pressed morning coffee did more than just wake me up; it made me nervous! There is a fine line between being naturally excited and caffeine-induced excited. Let me tell you, I prefer getting excited about all the great things ahead in the day with mildly stimulated nerves rather than nervous nerves. So what is a busy, working momma to do?!
Drinking coffee in the morning had become a well loved part of my daily routine. And you know what is harder than giving up a food or drink I love. . . ? Changing my routine! Instead of restructuring the whole day (okay really just taking coffee out of the morning) I decided to swap out my usual routine with a bag of organic black tea, steeped for 3 minutes. You know what happened? I was pleasantly surprised with its gentle ‘good morning wave’ and feeling at ease throughout the day. Sold. I now naturally enjoy the excitement of each day, sipping my organic tea peacefully, knowing I am making a better choice to nourishing my body. I look forward to additional benefits that may present themselves as my nervous system finds balance.
Is reducing your coffee intake something that is tugging at your heart? Maybe it's chocolate, or sugar, or cheese/salty snacks? Take a moment and ask yourself what foods or drinks you feel that you could never give up. Why? What would happen if you did? Dig deeper into those reason and challenge yourself to see if some food or drink has power over you. Don't forget to consult with your health team before making any changes. And most importantly, bring up all your wellness struggles to the Lord in prayer. God is a God of our whole body health-- body, mind, and spirit. Invite him into your journey and he will teach you new ways of living wellness.
Blessings on your journey,
With contribution from Caitlyn J. Hanson
 Deuteronomy 8:3 (NIV)
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any illnesses or disease. Please always check with your doctor before beginning any new nutritional or fitness program or before making any nutritional/fitness changes.