I used to be a huge coffee junkie! Back when I was living in Italy I drank minimum of three cups of coffee a day! (Yikes!) And I could not imagine waking up in the morning without a cup of coffee first thing. If there was no coffee in the house in the morning, it felt like the whole day was already ruined. I was cranky and irritable, and coffee was the only way to stop this. This is actually how a lot of people feel about coffee or any other caffeinated drink they are used to having. Many studies suggest that caffeine actually improves cognitive task performance (memory, attention span, etc.) in the short-term. But new research from Johns Hopkins Medical School shows that performance increases due to caffeine intake are the result of caffeine drinkers experiencing a short-term reversal of caffeine withdrawal. So in essence caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period, but is not increasing it from its normal functioning.
There is more to caffeine than just that. Consuming caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the “fight or flight” response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. Your emotions can overrun your behaviour. Irritability and anxiety are the most commonly seen emotional effects of caffeine, but caffeine enables all of your emotions to take charge. Caffeine also raises your blood pressure, disturbs your normal sleep pattern and can upset your stomach.
I never really realised how dependant on caffein I was, nor did I think it was a bad thing. I simply loved making my coffee in the morning, it was my every day ritual and it was always comforting somehow. It was only a few years ago that I realised just how bad I actually had it. And what struck me most is that the only positive thing of the entire coffee situation was actually the ritual around it every morning. I realised that as soon as I started creating a different ritual every morning, which still involved coffee, but was not all about coffee, I found it was the ritual that was giving my mornings the feeling of grounding and comfort.
I started falling out of love with coffee gradually. As I started juicing and making smoothies in the morning, it felt incredibly weird to have a black coffee with my juice! Also, I found it tastes horrible after a green juice. So I slowly stopped it.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and can really make one addictive (I’m speaking from experience) and I found that the best way to stop this addition is by gradually replacing the ritual you have (whether it is with coffee or black tea) with another ritual.
I still enjoy a cup of coffee occasionally, but it is by far not as essential to me as it used to be. And now if I feel I am sluggish or low on energy I actually think of the following 5 foods first, before I reach for a cup of espresso.
These foods are nourishing and kind to your body. They do not overstimulate your brain, nor do they create an addiction. But they will provide you with a burst of energy and uplift your mood. Try them out and let me know if you notice a difference after consuming them.
5 Foods to boost your energy level
Maca is a root grown in the high altitudes in the mountains in Peru. It can boost your mood and energy, but at the same time it helps to reduce stress and can act as an aphrodisiac. Maca is rich in B vitamins, C and E. It provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and amino acids. You can buy maca in a powdered form from a health food store. Start by adding a teaspoon to your morning smoothie.
2. Raw Cacao
Raw cacao really can help if you are still experiencing withdrawal symptoms from cutting back on your favourite caffeinated drink. Raw cacao contains tryptophan, which is necessary for your body to produce feel-good chemical serotonin. While it has only trace amounts of caffeine, raw cacao contains theobromine, a gentler stimulant that can give you an all-natural energy boost. Rich in magnesium and other essential minerals and vitamins, it is a great addition to your drinks and desserts.
3. Chia seeds
Rich in so many nutrients (minerals, vitamins, protein and healthy fats) these little seeds should be consumed on a regular basis. They will boost not only your energy but your metabolism as well, due to their high content of fiber. Try having a chia pudding for breakfast or add the seeds to your salad and you will soon notice the difference.
Well known for its ability to reduce fatigue and increase energy, ginseng is also a great immune booster. It helps to lower the blood sugar and cholesterol levels and reduces stress too. Enjoy it as a tea or in capsules.
5. Fresh fruits & cold-pressed juices
Start having a smoothie or a cold-pressed juice in the mornings. It does’t overload the stomach and will give you lots of nutrition and energy. You will notice that you won’t feel like having a coffee after your green smoothie (that’s what happened to me).