My name is Andrea and I am a coffee addict.
I love coffee. Big, huge, enormous puffy hearts. (Who doesn't? It is “mom code” to live for coffee, and I’m just doing my best to be a good mom….) BUT I think addict status is reached when it’s the first thing you think about every morning and the last thing you ponder when you lay down at night….right? Thoughts are something like “I can’t wait until tomorrow when I get more coffee.” #obsessing
Let's travel back in time...
In the distant past, as in a decade ago, I drank multiple cans of pop (Ok, soda, fine. My midwestern is showing) each day. Usually, this was in the form of Diet Pepsi or Diet Mountain Dew because you know, a girl’s gotta be caffeinated but also full of aspartame to kill her digestion and yellow #5 food coloring to destroy brain function, but not actually drink sugar. That would be sooooooo bad for you. #logicfail
I never got into energy drinks, but obviously that is a huge market as well. I think they taste like smarties crushed up and liquified...but in a bad way....? Is that just me?
So what I’m trying to say in all this rambling is that soda is called pop.
Ok, no, what I’m actually trying to say is that whether you drink coffee or pop or Red Bull, you’re probably highly addicted to caffeine and I can’t blame you one bit. Life-ing is hard some days, and giving yourself a little boost in the energy department seems like the best course of action. I totally get it, and don’t worry, you’ll get no judgement from me.
What I now know to be true, however, is that caffeine consumption does some really funky stuff to our detoxification pathways, and, especially in women, (delicate flowers that we are) can contribute to extreme fatigue and hormone dysregulation, because our livers are crucial in keeping our hormones balanced. If our livers can't keep up with expelling used up hormones and getting them out of our bodies because they are way too busy trying to break down the caffeine we drank so we don't die, our hormone levels get thrown off and we get tired. Then we drink more caffeine because we're tired, and internally, it all gets worse instead of better. (This is a very simplified look at our anatomy, but hopefully you get the gist.)
Right about now you're probably wondering where I'm going with all this. Valid question. Stick with me.
Just one short year ago, although I was deep into my holistic nutrition certification training and I had made some pretty significant changes in my family's nutrition and lifestyle, I was still chugging coffee every morning like a machine. And I loved it. I was holding onto my identity as a tired-but-wired-busy-mom-of-young-children-on-the-go as tight as I could, and if I'm being honest, I was effing exhausted. Helllloooooo.......ADRENAL FATIGUE!
So, I weaned myself off of coffee a bit, and I tried drinking decaf in the mornings. I was trying, I really was, but I was still going for coffee dates and drinking black tea and basically getting my fix at other times of the day and in sneaky ways, because I just didn't want to quit, dammit! So, let's be honest, I remained exhausted but I was making enough of an effort to delude myself that I was actually taking steps to healing my adrenals. (All this talk about adrenal fatigue...if you need a refresher on what that is, check out this blog post.)
The problem was that I wasn't really healing my adrenals or helping my fatigue at all. What I was doing was pumping caffeine into my body to cover up the symptoms of my adrenal fatigue, which were severe.
So here's what I did to actually start addressing my adrenal fatigue, exhaustion, hormone dysregulation and wacky thyroid function....drum roll, please....
I actually quit drinking caffeine.
(OMG, she finally got to the point.)
That's right, folks, I did what I recommend all my clients who have fatigue or hormone issues does: I quit covering up my fatigue and exhaustion with caffeine, and that is when I really grasped just how bad my adrenals were suffering. I was SO. EXHAUSTED. I really was....and that's when I couldn't deny it anymore: I couldn't function without caffeine and that was no bueno.
If you suspect you have some degree of adrenal fatigue, and if you're still reading this rambling mess of a blog post than I suspect you do, the number one thing you need to do is quit drinking caffeine in any form. Truly. There are a number of other things you can do simultaneously to promote healing, like eating specific vitamins and minerals, sleeping specific hours of the night and improving digestive function (and we teach all of these specific protocols in the Adrenal Fatigue Detox online course), but those are not going to get you very far if you're still drinking caffeine.
Caffeine is an adrenal stimulating compound, and your adrenals are already plenty stimulated, mmmkay?
There are three critical ways, in my opinion, that caffeine destroys our body's ability to handle stress and keep us energized:
- Our sleep is disrupted by caffeine even if we don't realize it because we fall asleep just fine at night. I can feel you rolling your eyes right now, but it's true: According to this awesome book on adrenal fatigue that I highly recommend, caffeine consumption interferes with the formation of the alpha rhythm in the brain necessary for sound sleep. Simply put: even if you fall asleep, you may not be getting restful sleep due to caffeine's subtle effect on your brain.
- Like I mentioned earlier, detoxifying caffeine from our body once we've ingested it is a cumbersome process, and it takes precious resources away from other bodily functions like conjugating and expelling hormones, which leads to disrupted hormone levels in addition to adrenal hypo-function. #doublewhammy
- Lastly, and this is not an exhaustive list but rather my top three biggest reasons to avoid caffeine when dealing with fatigue, is because caffeine often gets mixed in the ultimate addiction / destruction combination imaginable: with sugar. I am talking about sugary coffee drinks like frappes or mochas, caffeinated sodas full of sugar or corn syrup, and sugary energy drinks with caffeine. Ingesting those combos is like the ultimate addiction combo for our brains, and while our brain is thinking it just got a line of cocaine (seriously...sugar affects the same area of the brain as cocaine), our pancreas, liver and adrenal glands are working overtime trying to bring blood sugar levels back into a safe range before we die. The adrenal glands have a big role in keeping that frappe from killing you, and constantly spiking blood sugar levels is a major contributor to adrenal fatigue in the first place, so one of the worst things you could do for your energy levels or hormones is to further deplete those adrenal glands with sugar and caffeine.
Now can I tell you the best news of all?
I don't even want to drink coffee. I really don't. These days, my eyes pop open between 4-5AM all on their own, and I am ready to start my day without any chemical intervention. (I can hardly even believe that's true as I type it, but it is!) A year ago, when I was still deep in denial about how bone tired I was, I had to pry my eyelids open at 6:00, and it was only the promise of a hot cup of coffee that got me out of my bed.
So, if that's you, then be rest assured that once you commit to weaning yourself off of caffeine and really addressing the root cause of your fatigue, you can be in the same boat.
I have to admit, though, that the ritual of having that hot beverage in my hand all morning is something that I can't kick. For all of you that feel the same way, I am including a bonus video tutorial on how I make Collagen Hot Chocolate every morning instead of coffee. (It was originally recorded as a Facebook Live, so I promise I was actually talking to people and not just imaginary friends.) If you think you need a little #coffeemethadone to get you through, then this gut-healing hot chocolate is for you!! Tip: I always make a little extra because my kids drink it with their breakfast. Winning!
Watch the video!
You need some collagen hot chocolate in your life! Watch this (previously recorded as a Facebook Livestream) to see how I make "coffee methadone" every morning!