Why you don’t have to give up that morning cup of joe!


A while ago, a woman emailed me asking what my thoughts were about her morning cup of coffee, and specifically, whether I thought she should give it up.

Here is part of her email.

…I start my day with steamy hot coffee and half & half.

The morning ritual is so comforting to me.  Sitting, cozy on the couch with hot coffee, a blanket, and my Bible.  Love it!

But, I need to ask the question, “is this caffeine contributing to the [stress] problem?”  What are your thoughts on coffee and caffeine? …

This question is not unlike many others I’ve received about everything from a beloved cup of coffee in the morning to a decadent Saturday morning breakfast with dear girlfriends.

Once we begin to shift our overall diet into healthier eating, many of us wonder what to do when we recognize that certain emotional needs or emotional experiences are being filled or at least partially filled with food.

Here is part of my reply.

My first thought (in reading her complete email) was that perhaps she didn’t need to give up coffee at all.  There wasn’t evidence that she was experiencing ongoing chronic stress any longer and she was able to identify her stress flare-ups which were not happening at all near the time she drank the coffee.

Furthermore, her description of her mornings was utterly peaceful and calm.

Fulfilling her true needs.

Her morning ritual was aptly nourishing her inner needs…the need for personal reflection, the need for quiet and silence, and the need for spiritual growth.  In this case, the coffee wasn’t replacing those needs, it simply was part of the ritual that was feeding her true needs.

I also relish my morning creamy cup of joe — MOST especially when I can wake a few precious moments before my little ones do and share some quiet, soul time with God.

Caffeine impacts people differently.

But every body is different.  And it is always useful to check in with yourself and see how the actual caffeine is impacting your body and mind while allowing for the possibility that you are tolerating it just fine.

I have found in my own life, that I can tolerate a small amount of caffeine under certain circumstances.

  1. I do need to eat something substantial very near to when I have my  coffee — caffeine on an empty stomach does NOT work well for me.
  2. I also need to be mindful to drink a good amount of water on the mornings I drink caffeine, it helps me stay hydrated and keep away the jitters and anxiety that can happen if I drink too much coffee.

I share that because all emotional rituals that involve food aren’t bad –– in fact, for thousands of years, we have connected food to meaningful rituals in our lives.

How we eat food is just as important as what we eat.

A cup of coffee savored in quiet time is WAY different than a few cups thrown back as you are running around like crazy trying to get everyone to school in the morning and skipping breakfast.  It’s a totally different experience.

And the impact it has on your mind and body will be different in each of those scenarios as well.

An already stressed-out mind and body are primed and ready to be especially vulnerable to the impacts of caffeine.

A calm, peaceful mind and body are much more able to handle the caffeine intake and process it without throwing your hormonal equilibrium off.

If you look at the research, the anti-coffee drinkers and avid coffee drinkers both have science on their side.  What works for some people doesn’t work for others.

This is the beauty of coming to a place with food and health information where you can assess it on your own terms, you know your body and how to read it’s language and so can determine when shifts need to be made and when things are working just fine.

How about you, do you know how caffeine or coffee impacts your body and mind?Lisa