It’s been over a year since a nutritionist told me to eat my greens, drink more water, quit caffeine and eat foods with a high water content that are kind on the digestive system. Being told to do something and actually “doing it’ is like a different planet in an undiscovered solar system, in my experience. Paying to be told to eat your greens, drink more water, quit caffeine and eat clean is also problematic. However, a natural evolution of becoming caffeine free happened. And believe me when I say that it did not happen over night.
I didn’t force it.
I let myself be in the knowledge that I had to change, with small, conscientious efforts over time that added up to a greater whole.
And now I lead a life less caffeinated.
Also, that thing happened where my grocery basket is full of vegetables and I actively seek out misunderstood fruits and the most bewildering vegetables known to my mind (like fennel and collard greens). Yes, it happened. And no, I don’t yet look like a bright beaming twig of californian tanned swedish blonde yoga – I still bounce. The road is long.
At first, being caffeine free left a void in my life. I missed it. And I felt tired, sluggish and lacklustre for a long time. I also felt bored. I was a lot more boring without caffeine. A green tea bag was a little drama storm in a mug each morning and wild things happened to me when I was under the influence. Caffeine livened things up. Small things felt like huge disasters, electrified by the caffeine jitters and scant sleep from those cheeky little 4pm/6pm/7pm/8pm kick-me-up green teas. I realise now how out of my mind I was for most of the time. It’s an interesting question to ask, right? Did caffeine have a negative impact on my life choices, life style and life experiences?
Life was dull when I went de-caffeinated. I had to dig deep and consciously fill the black whole that caffeine left with positive, holistic activities and pursuits. Like strength training, studying and learning to cook with Hemsley & Hemsley and Deliciously Ella. I liked Deliciously Ella because you could measure ingredients with mugs and guessing amounts didn’t end in mess, sweat and tears. Part of the journey is learning to cook. And part of that is crying over soggy, cack mishaps and mistakes.
I slowly learned that juicing vegetables (with a little surreptitious ginger or apple kick) boosted my energy levels significantly, leaving me with a much more profound sense of wellbeing, clarity and emotional drive. I also learned that you can have too much ginger and NEVER drink the juice if the only thing in it is KALE. My nails are strong and long. My hair is less damaged. The little consistent changes make a big difference in the longterm: it is a marathon, not a sprint.
Not all energy boosts are created equal.
And so, inevitably, I fell off the wagon last week. And it all came flooding back to me.
When I am caffeinated I feel like one of the white horses from that Guinness advert, ploughing through mighty, muscular waves. I feel like the Surfer. I feel like Moses parting the waves.
I felt like Moses surfing the fifty-year storm.
When I am caffeinated I really am not myself. I am actually quite tame, some might say, boring. I like to play it safe. When I go nuts deep into a teapot of caffeinated tea, I am wild. I was out of my mind that evening. And having that stark contrast between caffeine-free and caffeine soaked, put any fears aside that the road I was on was the right way to be.
Did caffeine make me a risk taker?
Did I take more risks because I drank the equivalent of three full washing up sized bowls of green tea a day? In my twenties, if the self-destructive stakes weren’t high enough I would only ever watch from the sidelines, hoping that something bigger, more smoothly emotionally apocalyptic, would roll on in. I was a notorious coffee fiend and I switched this habit out with green tea, thinking that this gave me a brighter halo. I can’t help but wonder how much being overly caffeinated contributed to the poor quality of my existence during my twenties. This is something that nobody talks about – I think it’s quite profound.
If somebody had told me that life without caffeine is better quality, because of a) better hydration b) better quality sleep c)eating more consciously and mindfully to keep energy levels sustained and consistent – I would have made the journey sooner. Being caffeine-free has increased the quality of my life, in some very profound ways. It’s liberating, dangerous and scary. I am a new-me. I act differently. I behave differently. And I think differently when I am caffeine free.
It’s interesting. The nutritionist told me to QUIT CAFFEINE. But she didn’t tell me what that journey would feel like (like returning a ring to Mordor). And she didn’t tell me why. I thought I understood the plain simplicities of the fact that caffeine is bad for you. I just didn’t know how bad.
If you take out one bad habit be sure to replace it with something else.
Each morning I take alkalising salts and hot water with lemon. And I drink tulsi teas or a couple of decaff black coffees throughout the day. And I drink 4-6 pints of water a day, depending on how much I exercise and how well I eat.
I have dabbled now a couple of times with bulletproof coffee. It ticks all of the boxes – Coffee(gooood), Butter(so gooooooooood), Coconut oil (so so gooooooooood). I feel like it keeps the lid on caffeine so that you can ride the caffeinated wave all morning long through to lunchtime. I could apply this to a 12K run along the West coast. And that would be ok, once in a while.
I have also been dabbling with what I can juice. I have juiced celery and beetroot this week, with pleasing results. The beetroot juice (mixed with carrot, celery and apple) was nail gel colour pink. It looked pretty lush and it tasted pretty fine too. I continue to make experiments with chia seeds, with mixed results. I am not a natural born domestic goddess.
We feed ourselves 1095 times a year.
And that’s not even counting snacks/starters or desserts.
Experimenting in the kitchen and learning to change bad habits for good ones takes a lot of sweat, patience, self-kindess, love, humility, failures, letdowns, breakthroughs, discoveries and lessons. It all pays off. Maybe that’s why diets don’t work – you have to live through it! You feed yourself 1065 times over a year- you’ve gotta learn how to do it right for you!
And it doesn’t happen overnight.
And you can’t buy health and happiness.
You have to break sweat, be patient, self-medicate with large doses of self-kindness, mix with a lot of love, humility, failures, letdowns, breakthroughs, discoveries and lessons.
I never knew that all of the little things that I did made such a big impression on my life, my rationale, my mindset, my lifestyle, relationships, work and heart. A little goes a long way. It’s nice to move those little things forwards, towards changes that make a big, long-term difference.
I tell myself every day to eat my greens. And if I cannot eat them, I drink them.
There’s an alarm bell in me that goes off like the FOG HORN on a lighthouse in a fifty-year storm if something has caffeine in it. And that’s ok. That’s who I am now. I am not a coffee fiend. One day soon, I will be that ‘hot water’ in a mug person. And I’m ok with that.