Monday, March 11, 2013

Coffee is a real problem

Daylight savings time is torturing me today, and there is nothing I would like more right now than coffee. No coffee for me, though, because I am on a self-imposed coffee strike. Instead, I'm sipping green tea (and water, of course). Green tea is tolerable, but not quite the same. I want espresso.

So, what is the big deal? Why shun coffee? Sadly, I am pretty convinced that coffee is right up there with sugar on the "things I need to stay away from" list. I've learned the hard way (over and over again) that it makes me feel terrible. When I am drinking coffee everyday, I experience terrible joint inflammation. Particularly in the morning. I wake up and my knuckles are visibly swollen. Sometimes I feel like I can't even open my hands all the way, and some of my rings don't fit. I always blamed sugar for this (and before paleo I thought I had arthritis), and while I am sure sugar plays a role the coffee is most definitely a co-conspirator. Coffee also gives me dry, dull skin. I feel like I look older when I'm drinking it too much. Older and tired! When I'm not drinking coffee, these symptoms are non-existent.

I am not thrilled with this discovery. Coffee is a big part of my life. Carl and I love going to coffee shops together. We collect coffee-brewing systems. We sometimes have long conversations with baristas about bean origins and roasting techniques. We consider it a culinary art form and we like participating in the culture that surrounds it. For these reasons, it would be really easy ignore the truth. But I just cannot do that to myself. I've worked really hard to get where I am today in terms of health and fitness, and I don't want coffee to spoil it.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might remember this post in which I questioned the paleo-ness of coffee and wrote a little bit how I felt (great!) after 10 coffee-free days. At that time, however, I wasn't really all that interested in reigning in my coffee consumption. I wanted coffee more than I wanted the benefits of life without coffee. Now, I've flip-flopped. Or, more accurately, I am in the process of flip-flopping (some days are easier than others). To be perfectly honest, I've come to the realization that coffee is somewhat of an addiction for me. The more coffee I drink, the more coffee I want. I'm trying really hard to get a handle on this, but I fear it might be an all-or-nothing thing for me. I do OK if we don't keep coffee in the house, but if we do it is all over. I cannot resist my French press.

So anyway, this is where I am at now: I recently went another 10 days without coffee. On Saturday, though, I made the (very mindful) decision to order a small, decaf Americano. I made sure to savor it. I felt fine Sunday morning, but only because it was a one-time thing. The only issue was the desire to drink more coffee. I didn't, but I wanted to. Just like I want to right now. I would like to make coffee a weekends-only ritual ... I'm not sure if it is possible, but that is my goal. I'm also considering experimenting with organic coffee to see if that makes a difference. I've certainly tried organic coffee before, I have never made sure my coffee is organic. Conventional coffee has a lot of pesticides/chemicals, so maybe that is contributing to the problem?

I would really love to hear feedback from others about this topic! Is there anyone else out there who experiences similar issues when you drink too much coffee? Do you think it is caffeine, or the coffee itself (for me, it is the coffee itself). Thoughts? Opinions? Please leave a comment so I know I'm not alone in this.

12 comments:

  1. You're not alone! When there isn't a hot cup of coffee in my hand or waiting for me on the other side of the barista counter, I'm thinking about how to get my fix. I generally stick with no more than 12 oz a day and no caffeine (including decaf) after lunch, which is when I begin craving it and occasionally do give in, but it's hard for me to reign it in the next day and not indulge. Whenever I'm out running errands I find myself trying to negotiate a stop at Insomnia. When I did the meltdown in late 2010, I went 14 days w/o coffee, that is the longest I have been without coffee and I found myself desperately wanting that trusty warm mug that stays with me from 7am-10am. It's part our life too, Jeff and I love coffee, it's something we enjoy together, we've experimented with roasting our own beans, we adore our coffee machine! It's borderline ridiculous. Plus it seems so benign, we drink our coffee black so it's essentially zero calorie. But if I do not have coffee by 10:00am I will be battling a migraine and be foggy headed all day, so it's effect is evident. I can't remember if I experienced joint pain or change in my skin when I introduced coffee back in. Since it was my first and really only time on strict Paleo, it's hard to differentiate the side effects as being related to coffee or cleaner diet overall.
    Anyway, I'm rambling, but my point is YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Just today I was contemplating giving up coffee. Hmm...maybe...maybe not... :-)

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    1. Thank you Mckayla!! You sound just like me! Want to meet for coffee sometime? Haha!

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  2. White and black teas are great alternatives!! The way you describe coffee is the way I feel about tea. The caffeine is much less and they are healthier. I love brewing tea and experimenting with combining different types. I do prefer loose leaf tea now to tea bags, which is a little more work, but very worth the extra effort.

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  3. I'm pretty sure I couldn't live without coffee. I haven't suffered with any of the symptoms you are dealing with. Tea just doesn't do it for me personally.

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    1. Tea does not do it for me, either! It is OK, but it is not the same. At all.

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  4. I absolutely love coffee. Since I've been pregnant I don't drink it but I too have battled with the back and forth of giving it up. I have read everything from the strain it puts on the endocrine system, to the havoc it plays on blood sugar, to the chemicals and pesticides that are sprayed on the beans. And...it makes me feel anxious and fatigued, and I'm always craving more. With all that said I still love the taste, smell, color, and long conversations you can have over an amazing cup of hot coffee! I'm hoping I can sty away from it after the baby is born!?

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    1. Hey I enjoyed your post - this is exactly how I feel! I always feel rotton after having coffee, but I crave it terribly. My skin is dry and cracking, worse than it every has been before, and I'm certain it is related to coffee consumption. Would love to hear more about your results cutting back while pregnant. Funny, its kindof the opposite to exercise, which leaves me feeling so good after, but a bit tough to get through at the time :)

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  5. This post couldn't have been more timely! I read it yesterday after another day of 'I love coffee but it doesn't love me'... I LOVE my coffee and have been making it cold brewed for a while now and making it into bulletproof coffee or using canned coconut milk in it. But the same thing happens every time, after a few sips I start get a weird feeling in my stomach and then I have to use the bathroom right after (sorry TMI!)

    Anyway you would think that it would have stopped me already but I seriously crave it and have it once a day, sometimes twice. I like herbal teas but there's something about coffee! Oh and my skin does feel drier when drinking it :|

    See reading my own comment I know I should just put it away but my heart hasn't caught up to my brain!

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  6. Amazing, but since reading this article, I've actually tried to cut back some on my coffee. Not the easiest thing for me either.

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  7. Oh I understand cOmpletely! I just posted a status today that said I wish I could have an entire pot of coffee, but I've cut waaaay back since going paleo and just recently cut it out for a couple months when I read that coffee can have the same effects as gluten sensitivity, which I have. I've just been drinking lemon balm and peppermint tea lately, but it's not the same. Boooo

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  8. I am in the process of cutting back on coffee as well :( One cup a day, regular coffee, organic cream. I get my morning ritual, minus the afternoon anxiety and jitters. It is kind of scarey to see how much I crave it.

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  9. I am also trying to quit coffee drinking but it seems to be an impossible mission... I dring green tea and black tea instead, but it isn't the same...

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