Scared Straight: Why I Kicked Coffee to the Curb

Today is my seventh consecutive day without coffee.


After several previous (failed) attempts to wean myself off the drug, I think I may have finally been scared straight, not to mention being lured by the promise of another dangling carrot: clarity.

On the first evening of my yoga teacher training one week ago today, the instructor suggested it would be best not to consume any coffee, alcohol, or refined sugar for the duration of the three-month training process. The primary reason touted for not allowing any of these substances to enter our bodies? Clarity.

While I’m not a big drinker (yes, I like to enjoy the occasional glass of wine), and I don’t go around eating gobs of sugar aside from adding a teaspoon to my java, coffee is the one thing I had come to believe I could never go without. My habit had grown to include a cup or two to give me a much-needed jolt in the morning, and usually another cup or two in the mid to late afternoon to provide my waning energy level with a swift kick in the you-know-what. There’s no question I was fully addicted to that dark, smooth, and rich nectar of the gods that always made me feel like a warm hug from the inside.

But aside from admitting my coffee habit had morphed into a full-blown chemical dependence, the instructor uttered four words that hit me right between the eyes and may well have changed my life. With his serious un-caffeinated eyes and a deadpan face, he said: “Coffee is a neurotoxin”.

What does that mean? I’d heard the term before, but my own neurons struggled to make the connection. Aha, that’s it! It was the dreaded artificial sweetener known as aspartame. Coffee is in the same category as that awful chemical that I shall never willfully allow to enter my body? Ok, shit just got real and this is seriously scary stuff!

Without getting all “nerdy” and “sciencey” (because that’s just not my style), a neurotoxin alters nerve cells and interrupts the endocrine system. Coffee damages the adrenal glands, and has been used as a naturally occurring pesticide. At best, it masks the feeling of fatigue, and can be equated with using a credit card to buy energy today that your body still needs to pay back later. No matter which way you slice it, coffee inhibits your body from doing what it naturally needs to do by tricking it and providing a false, temporary high.

For years, I’ve justified my coffee consumption on the basis that it wasn’t really THAT bad for me, and it was my one and only vice. Now I know how bad coffee really is, and believe me when I say the list of negatives is much longer than what I’ve touched on here. So, for the same reason I refuse to ingest any type of artificial sweetener, I’ve finally kicked coffee to the curb. Knowing what’s at stake, I hope this time it’s for good.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am still consuming caffeine, just through a more pure and preferable source—matcha green tea. I feel it’s also important to note my body is in detox mode and the symptoms are not pleasant. My brain has been in a fog for the past four days and I have a terrible headache that won’t go away. If you ask any one of my family members, they would probably tell you I’ve been a little more grouchy than usual. But I’ve come this far and I’m determined not to back down. I am going to ride this one out, if for no other reason than to prove to myself I am strong enough. Besides, sometimes giving up on something you once believed in is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Although I feel as though I’ve been freed from coffee’s shackles, I’m still waiting to see if giving it up actually brings any form of clarity. As I said, I’ve been living in a fog as its harmful residual effects are slowly being purged from my system, and I’m thinking seven days is perhaps a touch too soon to tell.

The following image has been circulating on social media recently. It made me giggle and I thought it would be appropriate to share with this post, as it captures my current state perfectly:

Image credit:

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