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HOW TO: cut the coffee

Lizzy Marsh

You may have heard a few rumbles about cutting coffee, coffee detoxes and reducing stress response by skipping your morning espresso. Whether you have yet decided to experience life without coffee or not, I wanted to share a couple of ideas, pointers and considerations before you take action and cut the habit.

WHY CUT COFFEE?

Some of you may be wondering...why on EARTH would I live life without my morning cup of Joe? After all, it's the one thing that I look forward to when I wake up in the morning, it boosts productivity and gets me revved up for another day of ticking things off my list. 

When I make the decaffeination suggestion to many of my clients, I get a blank stare, often associated with a firm shake of the head from side to side. This is explained by "I have given SO much up in my diet, coffee is my one vice - it's all I have left!" After working with lots of individuals to reduce stress and manage health, I now know that this is simply a sign that coffee has a big, firm, caramel-coloured, delicious smelling, caffeinated grip on you. Not unlike alcohol and sugar, caffeine is highly addictive and a hard habit to shake. 

The research around caffeine and it's effect on your stress hormone cortisol is highly contradictory. In some cases, caffeine has been shown to cause spikes in cortisol that interfere with our daily hormonal rhythms, and other research shows that we build a tolerance to our daily cup when consumed at the same time of day. Without a doubt however, many of us are reliant on using coffee to get going in the morning and to wake us up from an energy slump during the day, and this is when it can become problematic.

Coffee is often used to curb appetite and replace the much more important nourishing, nutrient-dense food. Increased levels of our flight and fight hormone cortisol may lead to anxiety, irritability, poor quality sleep, sugar cravings, inflammation and possible body fat storage. 

MY TWO CENTS

For anyone questioning a caffeine detox, here are some points on why I highly recommend giving it a go:

  • If you can't remember the last day you had that didn't start with a cup of coffee, how do you know how it makes you feel? Do you suffer from anxiety, irritability, lashing out at others, fatigue, brain fog or difficulty sleeping? Cutting the caffeine may just help.
  • It doesn't have to be forever. I've had some great successes with caffeine detoxes and I know that life is better (for me) without it! But....it still creeps back in. I live in Melbourne after all! Try experimenting with a block of time - I now aim for about three 2 month blocks each year without it.
  • There are LOTS of alternatives. From turmeric lattes to herbal teas, there is a long list of warm beverages that you can enjoy sans caffeine. Try this delicious anti-inflammatory ginger tonic to kick-start your day instead!
  • If you struggle to sleep, this is a no-brainer. We all know that caffeine can impact our ability to drift off into slumber and some people are more sensitive than others. If you struggle to sleep at night, do shift work or find it extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning, a caffeine-free existence might be for you.

HOW TO DO IT: 7 days to quit

After going through a few caffeine detoxes myself, I have created a little guide to weening off the coffee bean. Be. Kind. To. Yourself. It's not easy and the withdrawals can be quite confronting! Here's my method (for a 3-cup per day addict).

Day 1: Normal coffee intake. Enjoy every sip and sniff. 

Day 2: One strong coffee

Day 3: Two weak (single shot) coffees

Day 4: One weak (single shot) coffee

Day 5: 2 black teas 

Day 6: 1 black tea

Day 7: 2 green teas

BOOM. 

What are your thoughts or experiences? Have you yet experienced life without? I'd love to hear how you go!