Why I Sought Out A Nutritionist + My Caffeine Free Life (Part One)


Ten weeks ago I stopped drinking coffee.

Just like that.

One day I had a cup and the next day I didn’t. The day after that I just kept telling myself don’t break the chain and now here it is three months later.

The only way I can think to describe the whole process is that it was as unceremonious as it was dramatic. Some of you will read that I’ve quit coffee and think “Oh cool” and some of you will probably feel The Panic creep up into your throat just considering what it would take to give up that morning cup. I was firmly in the latter camp, proclaiming that you would have to pry my coffee cup from my cold, dead hand — never being willing to deal with the consequences — and yet here we are.

The consequences are probably a good place to start since the most asked question I have gotten when mentioning that I’m no longer drinking coffee is a wide eyed “Why the hell would you want to do that?” Well, I got to a point where the consequences were outweighing the benefits — which in my experience is really the only reason anyone ever changes a behavior.

I mentioned that about 4 months ago I began seeing a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist Practitioner. That is a lot of fancy words, right? What it means in real life is that I hired someone who could help me in a coaching capacity to help me tailor my diet and exercise to my body’s own needs. When I say coaching I don’t mean in a “Rah Rah! GO TEAM!” kind of way, but basically I wanted to work with someone on a regular basis who was a knowledgeable nutrition professional who could look at my individual situation at this particular time in my life and help design a nutrition and lifestyle protocol that would help me give my body the tools it needs to get me back on track to health.

Whoa that sounded pretty hippy dippy. But that basically sums it up. No way to de-hipp-ify that. Guess it is what it is. :)

The truth is my body has gone through a lot in the past few years. I’ve changed the way I eat, I’ve dropped a lot of weight, I took on a super stressful job change, I had lots of stressful life events go on, I’ve re-gained some weight and in the meantime life has gone on. Not a lot of homeostasis here on the health front, ya know? I have learned a lot about who I am and how how I deal with stress and how that affects my body. Some of the consequences of my poor stress management had me backsliding down this health hill that I worked so hard to get to the top of. Hiring this nutritionist was a tool that I really hoped could help me get back up on my feet again and start climbing.

To get a baseline she ran a battery of tests that I will probably talk about in another post but there were two major results that led me to kick my caffeine habit pretty quickly. The first: I was dealing with Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue. (More good info about all of that here, here and here if you are interested in taking a deeper dive.) I have so much to say about adrenal fatigue, but I can probably sum it up by saying: If you are a person who is ever tired, anxious, depressed or having hormone issues it is worth looking into.

So I was basically firing on all cylinders with no gas in the tank. Wait — am I trying to use a car analogy here. That is a terrible idea. I know nothing about cars. The bottom line is, I was artificially elevating my cortisol levels with coffee and this wasn’t helping solve the problem. In fact, it was probably contributing to it at that point. My nutritionist recommended that I cut out the caffeine so we could really get a baseline for how my body was functioning without all this artificially elevated cortisol, but I wasn’t on board at first. (Can ya blame me? LOL I mean frankly I was a little scared.) I sat on the idea for a week or so and then I got some more tests back.

The second motivator, and really what pushed me over the edge to just really deal with the consequences of life with no caffeine, was getting the results of a food sensitivities test. It was lots of good information and thankfully it wasn’t only bad news – I found out that me and dairy really get along quite well! GREEN LIGHT! WOOT! (Well except for cottage cheese, but really there’s no love loss there) But on the list of foods that were causing me some serious inflammatory response (RED LIGHT!) was among other things caffeine (in any form) and coffee (regular and/or decaf.) I was paying all of this money to have a professional take a serious, personalized interest in my specific symptoms, so how could I keep turning my nose up at the idea of removing one of the most obvious speed bumps in my pursuit to health.


The day I got all of that info that I decided I was just going to have to give it a go and quit coffee. This post has gotten crazy long and I wasn’t really anticipating that so I think maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about the aftermath of getting rid of my daily cup of Joe and some of the awesome replacements I’ve found that keep me from feeling completely deprived. Sound good? Ok, great. Let’s do this again tomorrow. :)

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17 comments to Why I Sought Out A Nutritionist + My Caffeine Free Life (Part One)

  • Rachel @ Pain-Free Kitchen
    November 3, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Tired (check), anxious (check), depressed (check) or having hormone issues (check)….ah shit…

    I am in awe of you. I try to limit myself to one cup of coffee in the morning but I find myself reaching more and more for an occasional small cup in the afternoon just to finish the day. I keep blaming it on the fact that I get up for 5am but maybe I need to re-examine.

    I think what you’re doing is awesome. As much as we research online, sometimes you just need a professional to say you should try X, Y and Z. Right now I’m debating adding more carbs back into my diet. I’ve struggling to lose that last bit of weight and it’s not going anywhere. Someone (not paleo) suggested it’s because I only eat 20% carbs when I should be somewhere around 45%. Going back and forth because most of me goes “yeah but gluten-free oats and rice seem like such a waste of food” while the other part of me says “but eating straight paleo isn’t working.”

    Looks like there are a few “Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist Practitioners” listed in Chicago. Maybe I should check one out. I’m assuming he/she wasn’t covered with insurance right?

    • Holly
      November 4, 2014 at 10:36 am

      I think for people like us who are nerdy researchers (nerdy in the best way I mean :)) and don’t mind switching things up to test what works for us, a nutritionist can actually be a really good thing. They have a good baseline for where to start, what to monitor, and can zero in on specific protocols so much easier than me who is constantly swimming in a sea of research and never quite sure what is right. I’ve found it really helpful at least. You could also to try to find a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner — I was going for either, the one I found just happened to be a FDNP. It wasn’t covered by insurance (BOO) and it has been a little bit of an investment but four months in I feel SO MUCH BETTER and I know it’s because my body is starting to normalize and work like it is supposed to which feels good.

  • Beth
    November 3, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with Adrenal Fatigue. Not fun stuff. Looking forward to reading the rest of the caffeine journey. I gave it up completely during my first trimester and have slowly been letting it creep back in. Must kill it now before I’m dealing with a newborn.

  • Reid
    November 4, 2014 at 3:42 am

    I am really encouraged by this post! Congratulations on quitting caffeine. This is something I have been tossing around for quite awhile and I need to just do it. I have major anxiety issues and they always seem to get worse the more caffeine I have. It’s my last crutch (I quit smoking 6 years ago..) Really interested in hearing how you felt afterwards. :)

  • Erica
    November 4, 2014 at 4:11 am

    Hoo boy, I don’t think I’m ready to face this particular truth yet.

    • Holly
      November 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

      Maybe you won’t even have to. I don’t think quitting coffee is the answer for everyone by any means. It’s so damn good, I was just bad at moderating my consumption :)

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed
    November 4, 2014 at 5:00 am

    Looking forward to hearing the results! You really left me hanging here :)

  • april
    November 4, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Good for you for making that step. I’m not sure I’m ready – I don’t really need the morning cup and sometimes I don’t have it but I really LIKE the taste of coffee.

    • Holly
      November 4, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Girl, I totally get it! :) And honestly, I don’t think everyone needs to quit coffee either (which I’ll probably get into in my next post about it) so maybe you won’t even have to worry about it. Reasonable coffee consumptions is probably cool. I was being super aggressive about it and it wasn’t just for pleasure, I literally wouldn’t have been able to make it through my day without it.

  • Home Sweet Sarah
    November 4, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I’m interested in your coffee replacements because I drink tea all day er’ryday and I don’t think I can give THAT up.

    • Holly
      November 4, 2014 at 10:26 am

      I’ve basically gone to drinking tea all day, er’ryday as well — just herbal tea. Which is NOT THE SAME as coffee but there are actually some pretty good coffee alternatives. More to come!

  • Erica
    November 4, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I feel this way about booze. I’ve been sober for a month and we’ll see where it goes from here.

  • Tara @ Streets Ahead Living
    November 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    I have had anxiety and currently drink half caff coffee as a result (and only have one cup daily) but I’m curious about why decaf is bad? Is it because there’s still caffeine in there? If that’s the case, what about chocolate? Or is it the acid that’s also bad with coffee?

    I’ve had some other stress in my life and have gained some weight as a result so hearing about adrenal fatigue definitely sounds like something I need to look into.

    Best of luck in your health process and congrats on giving up coffee!

    • Holly
      November 4, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      I wouldn’t worry, I didn’t mean to be alarmist. I’ll probably add a little disclaimer to my next post because I don’t there there is anything inherently “bad” about coffee it just depends on your own context. For me, for right now, I have lots of inflammation stuff going on and I’m trying to get to the root cause of it. When I got the test back showing a food sensitivity to it regardless of reg or decaf I just felt like cutting it out seemed like the easiest way to reduce some of the variables I have going on so I can figure out what’s going on with me. I hope someday I’ll drink it again (at least decaf, I mean GIVE ME SOME VICES) :)

  • Kristabella
    November 5, 2014 at 7:44 am

    This is very interesting! I’m down to one cup of coffee a day, but I am also always tired.

    Good for you! That is a HARD habit to break!





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