Updated: Jun 5, 2020
So for May's WELL-BEING CHALLENGE, I gave up coffee for a whole month - here's what happened!
The good-morning brew
For so many of us, the day cannot begin without coffee. No coffee, no worky. But according to Ayurveda, being sharp, acidic and drying, coffee can cause havoc with the bodies bio-energetics, particularly if you are vata or pitta prakriti or have a vata or pitta imbalance.
Coffee in Ayurveda
Vata types, being naturally dryer and more energised can find coffee (as a natural stimulant) pushes them over the edge causing nervous jitters, anxiety, insomnia and (in the long term) constipation.
Pitta types being naturally hot, liquid and acidic can experience heartburn, sour taste in the mouth, gut pain and even loose motions from coffee, particularly when consumed on an empty stomach, first thing.
THAT'S 2 OUT OF 3 - it's not looking good, is it?
As a vata-kapha dominant myself, coffee is ok for me every now and then; more so in kapha dominant seasons (winter and spring). But as we surface from cold wet days and move into hotter, dryer and lighter weather, and my kapha decreases (and pitta and vata increase), a daily ritual that includes coffee slowly moves from health-moderating practice to a health-damaging one - sad times.
For this reason, May's MONTHLY WELL-BEING CHALLENGE was to give up coffee and invite new habits that align with my own and my environmental nature.
Here's what I learned:
Coffee replacements are awesome When I first browsed the aisles for coffee alternatives, I was sceptical - at best. Many articles I had read said they were awesome but I just didn't believe it. Nothing in the world is like coffee right? Wrong! The coffee replacements I had were delicious and easy to prepare and 100% satisfied my coffee craving.
After lots of research the products I went for where Whole Earth Coffee Alternative from Holland and Barrett and Teeccino Chicory and Dandelion Coffee from I-Herb. Both delicious! The Whole Earth instant coffee alternative was super handy for making a quick drink during a short work break while the Teeccino, which can be made in an espresso machine/stovetop/french press, came with the satisfying ritual of making proper coffee. Interestingly, I also found I got 3 cups, rather than one, out of each scoop of Teeccino and without having to worry about too much caffeine, I could enjoy them at my leisure! Compared to other brands, Teeccino is a little more expensive but when each scoop gives 3 cups its actually the same value as its cheaper competitors and has a longer list of healthy ingredients.
'No coffee' does not mean 'no caffeine' So, the first time I bought the Whole Earth coffee I picked up the 'Wake up' version thinking "Ok great, no caffiene but I still get some pep". Oh, how wrong I was. Not only did it have caffeine, as it contains guarana, each cup nearly twice as much caffeine as a normal americano/latte. In the first week, I thought "oh well at least I am having a break from coffee" but by the second week my blood pressure had shot up from 110/70 ish to 138/94, something I had never seen before. I was having palpitations and my sleep was going gradually more sideways. Thankfully, I swiftly made the switch to their NO CAF version and my BP returned to normal in a few days - phew. My advice - research your ingredients!
My gut does not appreciate caffeine. Full Stop. As with all month-long challenges (as they are actually quite hard) you will be tested. Occasionally (or maybe just once) you might fail. My moment of weakness came on a beautiful sunny afternoon in Hyde Park where I was extremely excited to see AN ACTUAL COFFEE SHOP OPEN (a rare sight as you know in lockdown) AND they were serving delicious iced coffee - my fav! I almost settled for a nice cool fruit lolly but at the last second my mouth got the better of me and ordered an ice coffee. It was delightful...until...cramp...My poor vata dominant gut did not appreciate the surprise stimulation and was now calling for me to pick myself up from secluded sunbathing and find the bathroom. My gut (or my bathroom schedule) wasn't right again for 3 days. I won't be making that mistake again.
Coffee alternatives offer different health benefits When we choose to put anything into our body, as often as possible we should also be considering the impact it will have on our overall well-being. Each step we take leads us towards greater health, or away from it. Exploring the range of alternatives to coffee is not only an adventure for your tastebuds but the health benefits of different drinks may mean that instead of choosing a beverage which is depleting, you are choosing something which actually boosts your health while tasting the same/very similar. Healthline.com have created a great article looking at on the health benefits of Chicory Coffee and the emerging evidence to support this. I mean why not mix it up and bit?
The choices are endless Anyone that knows me knows I tend to have to research almost everything on the market before I buy it. This was no exception. During my research, I found loads of amazing great brands that sell all sorts of coffee alternatives including thosse made from Chicory, Barley, Date, Rye, Dandelion and Mushroom - very cool! The products that intrigued me most (this is not endorsed by the way) included Whole Earth Coffee Alternative, Teeccino Products, Gualala Roast, Dandy Mix, Coffig, Pero and Barley Cup. I started with just the 2 for now but will at some point try them all. Now that I don't really intend to drink coffee anymore, lots of space has opened up in my day for other beverages. Mmmm let the adventure begin!
Conclusion? I am 100% converted. As a massive coffee lover for over a decade now I never thought such a shift in perspective would have been possible. Again, I was wrong. The taste of the ones I tried, if not exactly perfect, hit the spot with their dark, sweet, roasted notes. AIso, I cannot stress enough how good my gut feels and this is everything. Health is True Wealth and health starts with the gut. Now my mission is to do like Jasmine Hemsley has done with her Golden Milk in Leon and get coffee replacements/chicory coffee into costa and Pret so you, and the rest of us, have more choice when we are choosing our morning cup of joe. With IBS on the increase year on year, I think it's a pretty good mission for now. Like and share if you agree! Also, let us know what alternatives you love so we can add this to our growing not-coffee, no-sspresso pantry <3
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