Well Being

Coffee Is Bad (For Me): Why I Stopped Drinking Everyone’s Favorite Pick-Me-Up

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I haven’t had a sip of coffee in about two months and I feel great. Blasphemy, I know. But coffee isn't for everybody. And for me, it was more of a trigger than a pick-me-up. Here's why I had to kiss my cup of joe goodbye.

Now, I've never been a huge coffee drinker in the first place. A latte a couple of times a week, especially when I really need to get some work done, was usually enough for me. Maybe a cup of coffee on super early mornings, too. I'm not at all one of those people who can't even function until they get some caffeine in their system; I usually wake up pretty bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, so coffee was always something I drank on an as-needed basis, rather than an integral part of my life.

I'd always found that coffee had a dramatic effect on my body, making me sweat and sometimes have stomachaches (in addition to unpleasant digestive symptoms. Oh, the joys of IBS!). I chalked that up to times when I hadn't eaten enough before drinking it.  But a few months ago, I started to notice a dramatic increase in the bad feelings when I drank coffee, even just a few sips. My heart was racing, I felt super anxious and jittery and out-of-it for hours and hours, I had back pain and muscle cramps and found I couldn't really eat much after I drank some java. Imagine me bouncing from my desk to my kitchen to my window and back again, kinda freaking out, sweating and unable to do anything but wonder why I was feeling so bad. The physical effects were unpleasant, but mentally, I felt like I was having a full-on anxiety attack. All from a little cup of coffee. Weird, right?

Now, I wasn't drinking very much coffee at this time. A small latte or a dirty chai with one espresso shot midday, maybe an 8 oz styrofoam cup from the gas station, but never more than one coffee drink per day. It's not like I was pounding cup after cup of coffee or overloading my system with caffeine. So why the sudden change in the way it made me feel? I'm not totally sure, but I have a few theories.

Apparently, coffee can affect blood sugar levels. I have always been super affected by my blood sugar (no, I'm not diabetic, but the disease does run in my family), so after poking around online and reading some stories of people with similar experiences, it made sense to just stop drinking coffee. Since I did? No crazy symptoms, not even when I drink caffeinated drinks like green tea, black tea, or yerba mate.

Other people posit that it's caffeine itself that's bad for you; many devotees of the Paleo diet or people trying the Whole 30 have eliminated it from their lives. I'm not sure I think that any amount is bad, but I generally try to follow the rule of “everything in moderation.” And apparently, zero coffee is the amount necessary for me and my moderation.

I already struggle with anxiety problems, so it seems like a no-brainer to stay away from any substance that makes me feel anxious in and of itself.  I haven't looked into it to see if I maybe have an allergy to some of the substances in coffee, but I have a doctor's appointment coming up, so I'm going to bring up my experience and see what my doctor thinks.

It's not really hard to not drink coffee, but in a way, I'm kind of sad to be missing out on something that has a lot of reported health benefits, everything from antioxidants to oral cancer prevention to increased dopamine transmission.  Still, I'm glad that I've managed to avoid that telltale sweaty, jittery feeling—and a cup of yerba mate in the morning does me just fine.

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