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Oh flat white, how I adore you....
Oh flat white, how I adore you….

adore coffee. I pride myself in sipping on a smooth, rich flat white, I revel in my self-proclaimed coffee snobbery, and I fully admit that without a steaming cup of java in my hand, I feel incomplete.

Yet, this week, when I fell ill, I decided to stop drinking coffee. And I couldn’t believe how much my life changed.

I’ve always wondered why, when eating on an extremely clean diet, drinking loads of water, exercising regularly and getting lots of sleep, I still felt like crap. Why was everyone else cleaning up their diets and professing to feeling on top of the world?

All I could hear was people saying, ‘Oh, I can’t believe how different I feel after only a few days without sugar/processed food/etc’ when I was falling asleep in the corner, feeling rubbish. Get out the violins!

I began to think maybe I was pushing myself too hard? Maybe it was the stress of work and life catching up with me? Maybe it was my thyroid? Maybe I was being inadvertently glutened?

But it wasn’t until I stopped drinking coffee (because I could not face putting anything in my stomach due to a horrid sickness bug) that I realised – holy crap – the thing I loved the most was not loving me back!

Because now I have not had coffee for a whole week, I feel amazing. I bounce out of bed, I never hit that 3pm slump, my headaches have gone, my skin has cleared up immeasurably. I just feel like I felt I should feel after cleaning up my diet. It was amazing.

Why give it up?

Actually struggled to find a photo of me WITHOUT cofffee...
Actually struggled to find a photo of me WITHOUT cofffee…

For many months my boyfriend/personal trainer Steve has been trying to get me to give up coffee. Obviously I did not listen to him – he is my boyfriend, why would I!?(Sorry Steve!)

With my overactive thyroid problems, coffee is only going to make that worse. Caffeine effectively makes everything work harder and makes you release more cortisol – the stress hormone.

When trying to lose body fat, cortisol is the enemy. Considering the stress my body is already under with coeliac and hyperthyroidism, the last thing I want to do is aggravate it more when I had my first fitness photoshoot in less than seven weeks!

Testing the theory

How my life normally looks....
How my life normally looks….

Today, I decided to put my theory to the test. Surely the coffee couldn’t be hurting me that much? Maybe I was just drinking too much with my two strong cups a day…

So I tried it. I had a coffee. And guess what? I felt instantly awful. I didn’t event enjoy the taste that much (though it was only a cheapo from McDonald’s.)

Within half an hour of drinking it I had the following issues:

  • Hot flushes
  • Feeling stressed
  • Palpitations
  • Headache
  • Sickly and uneasy feeling in my stomach

For the rest of the day I had a headache and even now at 10pm (I drank it at about 11am) after training I am still not feeling fantastic.

So what’s the verdict?

Cold coffee, hot coffee... I wasn't fussy!
Cold coffee, hot coffee… I wasn’t fussy!

I still love coffee, don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy the dark, inviting smells and tastes of a proper espresso coffee.

However, this has made me realise that, at least for the duration of my photoshoot prep (more on that later), coffee has got to go.

The odd [decaf] Americano might still rear it’s head, but without caffeine I feel like I’ve got my buzz back.

Do you experience similar problems with coffee? Have you cut caffeine from your diet and felt a lot better? I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below and share your experience too 🙂


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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. It is quite true, I have experienced more or less the same. I suffer from colitis ulcerosa, a chronic inflammation of the intestines, and while I too am a total coffee addict, I can not deny the negative effects it has on me. When I do drink some, I know I will be feeling bad for the next two days or so. Sometimes I will even be in pain already an hour after drinking it.

    What I did experience though is that the quality of the coffee does make a different. Quick, cheap, instant ones makes me feel considerable worse than my cup freshly made from coffee beans.

    I have seriously lessened my coffee intake these days, although sometimes resisting that beautiful black liquid is just too difficult 😉

  2. Sarah I’m exactly the same, get those ‘symptoms’ you describe after literally a sip of coffee. Gave up coffee about 5 year ago and replaced the ‘hole’ with tea, which when I drink it after a long… hour… I feel instantly refreshed and enlivened. Tea really is wonderful, though it does taste funny at first when you’re used to coffee!