You may not know this, but I used to own a Coffee Shop/Bistro. It was the best time and worst time of my life … and I’d do it all again in a heart beat.
I could write a novel about that experience, but today I’m going to focus on the COFFEE. I loved it. Still love it. The aroma. The ritual of wrapping my hands around that hot mug. The deep, dark bitter flavor of a classic black cup of coffee. The crema on a perfectly pulled espresso. My mouth is literally salivating right now.
Coffee and me – we were an item. I walked around with a cup of coffee in my hand everywhere. At night, I often went to bed with a cup of coffee on my bed stand instead of water. #truth
Then I started my health revolution. I wasn’t well. I went to a lot of doctors who all told me I was fine. My chronic pain, gut issues, constipation, dry skin, extra weight, foggy brain, ringing in my ears, sleepless nights, extreme cold … nope- none of that mattered because they ran some basic tests and said I was fine.
Step by step I’ve been working to get back to a healthy state. One where I feel good – both physically and mentally. It’s a marathon not a sprint and it’s much like peeling layers of an onion- there’s seems to always to another layer to go deeper on.
So where does coffee come into this? Well, it’s been a long road but I’ve had to ultimately admit that coffee doesn’t agree with me; at least not right now.
How did I figure this out?
If you want to truly know how a food or drink affects you, take it out of your diet for a period of time. Notice how you feel. Then bring it back in and again, notice how you feel. Coffee might be one of the hardest things to take out of your diet- we are addicted to it.
One of the other things that I really learned throughout my struggle with coffee is that I WANT TO HAVE POWER OVER MY FOOD, rather than let food have power over me. Part of that comes with mindset, but part is breaking that physical addiction. With coffee, that might mean a few days of headaches, tiredness, grumpiness … what most people think of as detox symptoms.
Once you get past those initial symptoms, you might be amazed at how much more energy you have. How much better you sleep at night. You might even see a ‘puffiness’ and ‘redness’ reduce in the body.
For me, one of the big things I learned about coffee is that it makes me emotional. Like cry-at-the-commercials emotional when I have too much. Not fun.
Listen, I’m not hating in coffee. Quite the opposite. I still enjoy coffee once in a while – especially when I’m traveling overseas. And yes, there are some health benefits…for some people. If you look for them, you’ll find plenty of research that says coffee helps burn more calories, increases work out performance, helps you live longer or even tightens your skin. But there’s a disclaimer to this which is ‘IF IT AGREES WITH YOU’. It all depends on your current health.
If you’re suffering from thyroid issues, Hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, hot flashes or hormone-related conditions, if you have fibrous or lumpy boobs, it’s important to be fully aware of the “other side of coffee” and make an educated decision whether it is good for you and your current health challenges.
Stumbling to the coffee pot first thing in the morning and drinking it on and empty stomach (the way most of us do), is unfortunately one of the worst ways to drink it. Coffee is acidic so you’re starting your day in an acid state. Think about this – disease grows in an acidic state.
If you have blood sugar balance issues, caffeine, especially first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, will worsen this. Blood sugar fluctuations cause cortisol spikes, which not only exhaust the adrenals but also deregulate the immune system. It stimulates the adrenals to release more cortisol for a temporary boost of energy, but tired or exhausted adrenals are often the cause of unexplained weight gain, sleeping problems, feeling emotionally fragile, depression and fatigue. So at the very least, think of coffee as breakfast dessert, something to be enjoyed AFTER you have food in your tummy.
Coffee also contributes to acid reflux and damages the gut lining. And the truth is I could go on. But remember, we are all different, at different stages in our health and need to use our own intuition to decide how food affects our own health.
I struggled for so long to truly give up coffee. I could tell I did better without it; funny part was I didn’t even use it to wake up or give me a boost, I just loved the flavor, aroma and ritual. I would go months without it and then drink so much in the next month that the effects would come back tri-fold.
But I’ve finally gotten to point where I have control over the coffee. One of the things that has helped me is finding substitutes. Now, instead of dwelling on not getting to drink coffee, I find it quite rewarding for me to dig in, research, test, sample and try out new products that I can share with you that are not only good substitutes, but ones that could actually help you regain health and hormonal balance.
Below I’m listing three of my current favorite coffee substitutes, and a couple of my not-so-favorite ones so you can save your money. I’m going to be very honest- these are not exactly like true coffee and you will need to allow for a little flavor adaption, but these are pretty great options that work for me and many of my clients:
- Rasa: is an adaptogenic coffee alternative. Adaptogens are herbs that support the endocrine, nervous and immune systems – restoring and balancing it so you can experience the fullness and depth of energy. This ‘coffee’ offers the bitterness and full mouth feel of coffee. Coffee and caffeine are more like external energy that can be quite draining and addictive. You pay for this energy by burning out your nervous system and complication the delicate balance of hormones (yes, men have hormones too!) The blend of adaptogens in Rasa actually help to support and rebuild your endocrine, nervous and immune system in a calm and nourishing way. Plus there are medicinal mushrooms to boost energy, dandelion, chicory and burdock which help detox the liver and offer prebiotics and finally a touch of cinnamon wich helps balance blood sugar levels. So this is my favorite coffee alternative currently.
- Dandy blend: this was my first coffee alternative I tried and I still enjoy it from time to time. Dandy Blend is derived from dandelion, barley and chicory- which nourishes the liver and kidney. rather than taxing stress hormones and adrenal glands. It’s bitter and rich, like coffee and it’s quite easy to make it as strong as you like since it’s a simple powder that just mixes with hot liquid. It’s actually a go to for me when I need a coffee-essence in a recipe.
- Roasted Dandelion Root Tea: Dandelion isn’t just a weed, it’s a bitter taste that stimulates digestion and supports your body’s natural detoxification process. Similar to the dandy blend above, but this is a straight tea that needs to steep. I always have this on hand, especially during anytime I’m detoxing.
- Teeccino: I played with this one a bit, it was bitter and dark- two things that I love about coffee- but I couldn’t put my finger on why I wasn’t drawn to it. It’s definitely not as nourishing as the other options but once I realized it wasn’t gluten free and that it contains ‘natural flavoring’ (which is an ingredient that is most often synthetically derived), that told me everything I needed to know. Doesn’t mean it isn’t right for you.
- Ayurveda Roast: I really wanted to like this one as it has a few herbs in it like ashwaganda, but the flavor was just too overwhelmingly chicory for me.
Step one is to find out how coffee affects you. Take it out of your body (2 weeks, maybe even a month) and see how you feel without it. And then see how you feel with it. You decide.
Maybe you start the way I did where I only drank coffee on the weekends – this helps create more of a ‘treat’ experience around it too. Another good tip for when you’re just starting out is to cut your coffee with these alternative options, maybe half and half for each cup, then work to gradually move away from coffee.
Go easy on yourself as you change your health, it’s a process with ebbs and flows. Sometimes a step forward and sometimes a couple steps back. Of course, if you need a little help with health, I’m just a phone call way!1