I’m going to be frank and honest with you, in a way that many “gurus” of raw foods and natural health never are. I’m not perfect with my diet and healthy lifestyle. Who is, anyway? But I am very committed to improving myself all the time, and learning from my mistakes, but also sharing the results of my experience with my readers.
So today I want to tell you about my “experiments” in the wonderful world of coffee and caffeine over the past years and especially of last year, and why I’ll never put that stuff into my body again.
My Little “Caffeine Background”
Growing up, I was never a soda drinker. My mom didn’t buy sodas, and when I did drink it, it was generally the brands that didn’t contain caffeine.
After high school, I enrolled in music school, and noticed that most of my friends in college started to drink coffee. I remember to give it a try one day, thinking it would improve my concentration while practicing.
Since I was not used to drinking coffee, it gave me an instant buzz. My heart was racing, and when I sat down to practice the guitar (I was practicing 5 hours a day at the time), I noticed that my hand was shacking! I certainly couldn’t practice like this, so I didn’t try coffee again.
Later a friend of mine told me that some Flamenco players drink a lot of coffee in order to be able to play in a very fast, jittery style. I remember thinking, “this doesn’t make sense! I couldn’t even play a arpeggio right when drinking the stuff!”
Later I got into raw and healthy foods, and so I wasn’t enticed to drink coffee (even though I met many raw-foodists who were fond of black espresso coffee).
I eventually slipped off when a girlfriend introduced me to the wonderful world of gourmet coffees: lattee (you could even order it with soy milk!), capuccinos, espresso, mokaccino, and so many more delicious combinations.
I instantly became a coffee fan. So I drank it occasionally for a number of years, but eventually gave it up, as I realized the stuff wasn’t doing me any good.
But for some reason last year, I started drinking coffee again. The old addiction came back! One day I woke up, had a cup of black coffee, was instantly hooked again, and drank it every day for months in a row!
I loved the buzz of caffeine, the taste of coffee, the so-called “enhanced mental clarity” and basically everything about it.
But as I quickly realized (and actually already knew, but I was fooling myself)… the “energy” you get from coffee is actually false energy. It’s sort of like borrowing from the bank… you later have to pay it back, with interest!
Little by little, I was drinking more coffee, and the negative effects showed. I was no longer waking up in the morning “happy and ready to meet the day”.
Rather, it was more that I was half-somatic until I put some java in my system again.
Even though coffee can make you very “active” and productive… like all stimulants, they lead to a crash. The subtle symptoms are depression, “the blues”… and just not feeling like yourself anymore.
I tried to blame it on stress.
I tried to blame it on a lot of stuff… because unconsciously, I’d love the idea that I could somehow still drink my morning coffee and be okay. Everything in moderation, right?
So I decided to give it up… for good! I had done that before, but this was the first time in my life that I was definitely drinking coffee on a regular basis.
I did the transition gradually, using Teeccino (a wonderful replacement you can find at: www.teeccino.com), but I would say it took me about 2-3 weeks to come back to my “normal self” with natural energy. That’s one of the reasons why people are NOT able to give up coffee: because of the withdrawal symptoms.
Of course, the system has to adjust. But there is no doubt that I DO feel much better now, without any caffeine in my system.
Now, let me answer a few questions you may have:
“Why did you drink coffee? I thought you were an advocate of raw foods and good health?”
Everyone has different things they “compromise” with, wherever they are in their path to health. I’m not going to judge anyone for that. It’s perfectly normal and human. I’m open about my own process so to me saying that I was drinking coffee even though I am advocating a mostly raw diet is not dishonest. I know plenty of so called “raw-foodists” who drink espresso coffee. I won’t name anyone but some are pretty big names in the raw-food “business”.
“What are some of the negative effects of caffeine?”
There are so many. Most people are familiar with the “caffeine headache”, but the list is actually much longer, and includes depression (which is contradictory but makes sense once you think about it).
For the full details, check out the article I published in my magazine Just Eat An Apple, “Coffee, the Great Energy Sapper”, where you will learn more about caffeine side effects and caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
“If I go raw or go on a cleanse, should I also quit coffee?”
Yes! But not cold turkey. That’s a recipe for disaster. Do it gradually over three weeks, using the program at: http://www.teeccino.com/quitting.aspx
“If I have just one cup of coffee a day, is it still okay?”
I suggest you read the book “Caffeine Blues”. You’ll realize what negative effects a “cup” can really have on your system. I believe caffeine is best left out of the diet entirely. Try it for a month, and notice the difference (but give it at least a month!).
“What about the caffeine in green tea?”
Depending on the method of preparation and the type of tea, green tea can contain very little caffeine or actually quite a bit. If you prepare it from loose green leaves, and let it steep in near-boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, the caffeine content is small (about 15 mg. per cup, versus 80-140 for coffee).