I began drinking coffee when I was in early high school. Back then, I only enjoyed one cup a morning (which was loaded up with Coffee Mate, mind you), and it was more about the taste than anything. Like many people, as I got into college and later the working world post-grad, my caffeine intake skyrocketed, as did my anxiety, sleeplessness and emotional instability. Coincidence?
While I was able to manage all of the above for quite some time, my caffeine dependence began to enter a very unhealthy state last fall. I was incredibly unhappy at my job, wasn’t sleeping enough and experienced anxiety morning, noon and night.
I’d wake up and have to get several cups of coffee in me ASAP in order to function for work. Later on, if I struggled to maintain a happy, bubbly face throughout the day at the office, another coffee, green tea or “healthy” energy drink it was!
At night, I’d lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, anxious about anything and everything. The fact that I was still awake in the middle of the night also added to this stress and sleeplessness. Then when I woke up the next morning, I felt even more in need of the caffeine to get me up and going again.
Does this toxic cycle resonate with anyone? On one hand, many of us want to quit coffee, but on the other hand, we “need” it to get through the day. I was in those same shoes, believe me, so I know this feeling all too well.
When I decided to quit my job to pursue my MBA, I made several changes in my daily routine to get myself to a happier, more fulfilled place. And creating a healthier relationship with caffeine was on that list of lifestyle to-dos.
Because I adored and relied on my daily coffee, I didn’t want to admit that it was likely playing a role in my cycle of anxiety. Yet once I finally allowed myself to be open to such positive change, I never looked back.
First, I began by implementing a new way to start each day, which has now become my “Morning Drink.” This consists of warm water, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and cayenne (read more about the benefits of this concoction in What I Drink Every Morning & Why). This satisfies my need for something warm when I wake up and hydrates my body right off the bat. After this, I’d then allow myself to have coffee, but oddly enough, I found that I didn’t even want it as much as I once did. A cup or two was plenty, and then I’d move on with my day.
After about a month of introducing this drink into my morning ritual, I challenged myself to start something that was very much out of my comfort zone—substitute coffee completely with matcha.
I bought a jar of matcha, and in order to force myself to use it, I stopped buying coffee completely. That way, I’d really have to commit. For the month of March, I attempted to see how many days I could go making matcha in the morning and eliminating coffee altogether. While the first few days felt odd, given I’d made a daily pot of coffee for years, I soon fell into this new routine and never looked back.
If you’re still not familiar with matcha, it’s simply a potent form of green tea that’s grown slightly differently, resulting in a more dense nutrient profile. Its high level of antioxidants and amino acids can improve heart health, boost brain function, protect the liver and fight against cancer.
Matcha contains much less caffeine than coffee and provides sustained energy without the crash or jitters. Plus, it likewise contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that promotes concentration and focus.
For these reasons (and its lovely green color), matcha has become a staple in the health community over the past several years. If you’re interested in introducing matcha into your diet on the sweeter side, also check out my Mini Matcha Vegan Cheesecakes.
Today, I still typically enjoy matcha in the morning, but there are often days when I’m busy or am simply not in the mood for anything at all. I can happily say that body has come back to a place where I can produce my own energy without relying on outside sources.
With that said, I likewise don’t believe in saying that I’ll never again eat or drink something, regardless of what it is. Coffee can be a very healthy addition to one’s diet, given it contains essential nutrients and antioxidants that promote brain function, reduce the risk of serious disease and even burn fat.
Despite these benefits, when we become too reliant on anything in our lives, including coffee, I believe we need to reevaluate. When dependence is no longer a part of the picture, we are then able to form a healthier, more balanced relationship.
I’m now able to enjoy coffee, matcha and more without feeling as if I need the caffeine to get through my day. And yes, there are most certainly times when one needs an afternoon pick-me-up at work, while traveling or before a long night. I just urge you not to let that become your daily habit.
And while everyone’s body, caffeine tolerance and situation is very different, I hope that my journey helps inspire you to make a few positive changes for yourself. Only you have the power to do so, and there’s nothing to be lost in trying something new.
For those looking to give matcha a shot, check out my favorite brands below. I likewise include additional, adaptogenic powders to my morning drink for even more natural energy, such as this Moodbeli Energy Tonic and Stamba Perform Powder.
Plus, follow me on Instagram @goodness_with_g for a peek into the best matcha spots and coffeeshops in Austin and beyond!