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Anyone who knows me, will know that coffee is as much an essential in my life as AIR.

My daily routine usually goes something like the following….

Wake up. Coffee.

Get to work….coffee. And another. And another. And another.

One for the road? Oh go on then.

You get the picture?

Being in a rather hectic job and working long hours its easy to get sucked into the caffeine cycle, but after a holiday in Portugal, in which I only drank TWO coffees in A WEEK, I realised how much this drink was quite possibly ruining me.

So as I boarded the plane home with my best friend Hannah, our minds full of motivation and resolutions for when we returned, I decided it was time I tried a bit of a coffee detox.

After all, I had survived a week with only two cups of coffee, surely I would be fine? Right!?

Oh, my last holiday coffee - a thing of beauty!
Oh, my last holiday coffee – a thing of beauty!

As many of you know, I’ve been trying to lose body fat and get really fit for my holiday in September, and the fact I like my coffees milky with one sugar is even worse. As PT Steve would say, sugar is the enemy.

So, the week began, and instead of my morning coffee I opted for a nice pint of….water.

I think the wierdest thing has been breaking the habit of switching the kettle on in my zombie-like state, inhaling the fumes of freshly brewed coffee to wake me up.

Instead, I have started every morning with a pint of water – and how refreshed did that make me feel!? I’ve been struggling to drink a litre of water a day, let alone the target of 3 litres daily before my hols.

But despite the dehydrating properties of coffee, I have found myself thirstier than normal and actually have pretty much hit my 3 litre target most days – making sure my pint glass on my desk is refilled regulary!

On the mornings I really felt I needed a boost, I opted for a green tea with pomegranite, which gave me that little kick and had the added comfort of holding a warm mug of something first thing.

I really expected to feel myself struggling during the day – and the first few days I did find I had a bit of a headache – but I have felt so much more awake than ever!

I feel the coffee was really dragging me down – my days was full of highs and lows, whereas now I don’t get that 2pm slump and I feel so hydrated – plus my skin is looking so much healthier and I think the dark circles under my eyes have faded slightly!

So why should a coeliac give up coffee?

Interestingly, there is more than one reason for my coffee break up.

I’ve seen quite a lot of articles floating around the net (see here, here and here, to name a few) suggesting that coffee provokes a similar reaction in coeliacs to gluten.

In fact, this article by Dr Clark, which started much of the debate, suggests 10% of coffee is a protein which cross-reacts with gluten antibodies.

In theory, this means that when a coeliac drinks coffee, their body will react as if they are having a gluten attack.

When I first read this, my first reaction was, ‘yer, whatever’ – but having not had coffee for a week, I’ve noticed my stomach has seemed a lot better, so maybe there could be some truth in it?

The theory is largely untested although it seems to be gathering some momentum – I’m not telling you it’s true and I’m not telling you to suddenly go cold turkey on the Starbucks, but it’s certainly something to follow and be aware of.

Bye bye forever?

Well, probably not.

I’ve loved my week of being clean from coffee – ditching my 4-5 coffees (= 4-5 teaspoons of sugar) a day I am feeling much better and I’m definitely going to eliminate drinking coffee from my day-to-day regime.

But sometimes when I’m meeting a friend, or having a particularly bad day, I know I’ll still dip into Costa and grab a latte – I love them too much to say no!

The idea of coffee provoking a cross reaction does worry me, but until there is more substantial proof I’ll still have the occassional treat, and monitor how my gut reacts. If it makes me feel ill, then I’ll have to say a tearful goodbye.

I have to say though, I am feeling so much better and looking forward to seeing how this affects my next weigh in next week – so watch this space!

Do you drink coffee? What do you think about Dr Clark’s article on coffee provoking a cross reaction? Comment below with your thoughs!

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About Sarah Howells

Hi, I'm Sarah! Diagnosed with coeliac disease 20 years ago, I'm on a mission to create the best gluten free recipes since sliced bread. No fruit salads or dry brownies here.

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  1. How interesting
    My niece who’s coeliac recently switched from fizzy drinks to lattes and has been having problems with her stomach. My sister told me yesterday she thought it might be a lactose intolerance but I’ll mention the coffee thing to her too.