why i stopped drinking coffee

I started drinking coffee at approximately 16 and never stopped. Three months before I turned 23, I was experiencing a whole slew of digestive autoimmune symptoms and after hours of research, reading, and sorting through functional medicine approaches, I landed on a strict elimination program that would help reset my body, digestion, hormones, mood, and overall wellbeing. The real kicker? No coffee. 

Marina Gunn Food

A huge part of my most fond memories from being home are what we call 'coffee mornings'. Everyone gets up at least an hour before they need to just to sit on the couch together, sip coffee, and talk. It's something that is so necessary to my mental wellbeing now that in NYC, Frank and I got up at 6:00 am just to drink coffee and talk before we started getting ready and made breakfast at 7:00. 

When I started the elimination program on May 1st, I changed to the mindset that this is not a short term solution to my problems or symptoms, this is a long-term solution to healing my body and stomach issues for good. 'Cheating' was not an option because it would physically make me ill and I was d-o-n-e feeling that way. So May 1st came and went and here we are, 79 days later and let me tell you, I feel incredible.

Detox Stage

Now I'm not going to lie and say I just stopped drinking coffee and day 1 felt amazing. That is definitely not the truth for me and honestly I question anyone who says that's true. I had to prepare myself for the halt in energy, headaches, and overall exhaustion. At this point, I was drinking close to 4 cups of coffee a day. It was definitely a level of addiction and that amount of caffeine started to affect my sleep, mood, and work productivity not to mention it put my adrenal glands and endocrine system into overdrive and fed into my anxiety and nervousness. 

If you're looking to try and give up coffee, here are a few suggestions:

  • Pick a 3 day weekend where you don't have to work or have any prior engagements. I started this on a Wednesday in the middle of a work week and trust me, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. 
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with lots of water, choose healthy eating options to reduce fatigue caused by sugar and if needed drink one cup of green tea to keep the initial headache at bay. 
  • Try and get 10 hours of sleep to offset the initial decline in energy as your adrenals and endocrine system adjust to producing your natural energy and stop working in overdrive to slow down your body due to caffeine over intake.
  • Day 1 honestly isn't as bad as Day 2, that's when your body is at close to 48 hours without caffeine and if you were a habitual coffee drinker like me, your body will remind you, trust me. 
  • Day 4 is THE day. After 3 straight days of being so tired and lethargic, I woke up on day 4 wide awake and ready to take on the day. I was focused and energetic at work and for the first time in 7 years I didn't hit a wall at 3:00 pm. 

My experience with the benefits and side effects:

  • More energy. I can now wake up and get right to what I need to do if needed. I still simulate my own little coffee morning like I have done for so many years, but now it's with herbal tea or an apple cider vinegar and ginger tonic. Relaxing time in the morning is so essential to my daily routine!
  • Higher sleep quality. I can now get 8 hours of sleep per night and not wake up feeling exhausted. A downfall on this though is that you need to get enough sleep to ensure you have enough energy for the next day. I was realizing a few weeks ago that I was jeopardizing my sleep the past few years because I was substitute caffeine. No wonder I was so exhausted!
  • Improved mood. This was the best part of the entire process for me. I was calmer, less agitated, and my anxiety, resting heart rate, and patience made me feel like a whole new person.

Transitioning to a Routine

Right now, I am sipping on a mug of green tea because it's Monday morning and no one's perfect. Realistically, I have a mug of green tea 3-4 mornings during the week. Sometimes I don't even finish the whole thing and I think it has come from the habitual feeling of drinking something warm and comforting to wake you up. Now, I don't rely on the tea to wake me up or give me a jolt of energy, as it has 25-29 mg of caffeine* compared to the 95-165 mg of caffeine* in a cup of coffee, let alone the 380-660 mg of caffeine I used to ingest on a daily basis. I suggest if you're looking at your caffeine intake and have experienced similar issues of fatigue, high levels of caffeine consumption, anxiety, etc that you do your own research and find a solution that works best for you! And that may as well be keeping your coffee in hand and that is perfectly your decision if it works for you.

*Caffeine Data from The Mayo Clinic

I hope this post helped give some insight into coffee and caffeine detoxing! Let me know in the comments if you'd had similar experiences or if you have any questions about caffeine detoxing etc! Love hearing from you all and your experiences as well. 

- Marina!