I still remember the day my health coach said, “Ok, now, eliminate coffee!”
I was in my late twenties and attending college full time while working a full-time job at a large corporate law firm. There were days I was extremely fatigued, hunched over the reception desk, clenching my abdomen in pain. I began working with my health coach right after my laproscopic surgery knowing I needed to change my lifestyle in order to keep my Endometriosis symptoms at bay.
We had been working on an elimination diet for months. I had already eliminated gluten, red meat, sugar, dairy, soy, and corn (to the best of my ability of course). She purposefully saved coffee for last because she knew I ran on it like an IV.
My response to her coffee elimination recommendation?!
So, like any good relationship, we compromised! She asked if I could try a few days without it to see how I felt. I reluctantly agreed, and, being the type-A overachiever that I am, pushed those few days into a week and then two weeks before grabbing a cup of java again.
Here’s what I learned from that two-week java hiatus:
There are a lot of habits that accompany that cup of coffee! It was part of my morning routine, my social outings, my fast paced work life and my evening college class atmosphere. Also, I really LOVE cupping my hands around a warm ceramic mug (says the freeze baby living in Northeast Ohio)! Eliminating coffee meant changing multiple daily habits, and that shit ain’t easy! Actually, to this day, I still brew hot water to drink from a coffee mug just to get my daily H2O intake (which was something I had switched out for coffee during my hiatus)! It wasn’t easy, but I survived!
Did I feel AMAZING eliminating coffee? Not completely...but I did learn it wasn’t the thing keeping me alive! Which means, I know I have the strength to eliminate it when needed. I also learned that my morning coffee, if consumed after water and breakfast, is ok for my gut. Consuming multiple cups, into the afternoon, on a daily basis, though, is crossing a boundary. I wouldn’t have learned these boundaries if I hadn’t taken the time to eliminate it and check in with my body first.
Diversity and frequency are key when it comes to consuming coffee with Endometriosis! There was a Starbucks conveniently located next to my office and I LOVE the white peppermint mochas! One week, I consumed it every afternoon for 5 days straight and ended up with a massive migraine. Turns out, there was artificial sweetener in it, which is not a friend of mine. I was also ordering it with soy milk, which is also a trigger (I feel I need a disclaimer here: soy was the only non-dairy option at that time...and...yes, I know I just said I had eliminated soy, but I felt it was the lesser of the evil compared to dairy!). The moral is, if I indulge in this latte occasionally, I’m usually ok, but when it becomes frequent, my body rejects it. I also learned to alternate the non-dairy milks (since there is a variety of them now) I use to create more diversity, which results in less reactions.
So when people tell me “coffee is BAD for Endometriosis,” I always reply, “It’s different for everyone...good and bad are subjective.”
If you think it may be a trigger, eliminate it for a bit and when you reintroduce it, notice if you react. Do you have to eliminate it all together, or can you set boundaries? Can you tweak your frequency and diversity?
Forget the good and bad, and focus more on what YOUR body is telling you and what you can do to nourish it.
More ways to focus more on your body and ways to nourish it over in the endOMetriosis lounge!