by Jane Keep, UK

My body is a great guide: take coffee and caffeine for instance – we simply didn’t get on.

Currently, coffee shops make up the fastest growing part of the restaurant business, and many people have a relationship with coffee: for instance, Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day as the leading consumers of coffee. It wasn’t the same for me. Coffee and I simply didn’t get on.

When I was growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, everyone around me would drink coffee. There were few posh coffee machines or roasted coffee beans – mostly instant coffee – and people around me would take what they could get. I thought, well, this must be something great – everyone drinks it, I will too. I began drinking coffee when I was in my late teens. Around that time I started to get regular cramping pains in my abdomen, diarrhoea, and I used to get a lot of palpitations, as well as getting sweaty and uncomfortable. I went to the doctors who had my abdominal pains investigated. I was coffee intolerant – it gave me intestinal cramps and made my heart race into palpitations –uncomfortably so.

Consequently, at age 20 I stopped drinking coffee, and all of the symptoms immediately reversed. I haven’t drunk a cup of coffee since. I did though, one day some years later, accidentally eat a chocolate that had a coffee bean in it. This time my reaction to coffee was stronger, and the pain in my abdomen and the palpitations were far worse. A strong reminder of why coffee and I never actually got on.

My point here is that our body is a most amazing guide to help us to navigate through our daily living choices – it knows so well what harms it and what nourishes it. By taking a single point of focus, such as which warm drinks feel harming and uncomfortable, and replacing them with drinks that nourish me, or are gentle for me, I have found a far gentler and more self-caring way of living and working. Using my body as a guide in this way, and listening to it, has supported me over time to gently review other dietary and lifestyle choices: these include the foods I eat, along with ensuring I get the rest and exercise that supports me.

324 thoughts on “Coffee

  1. I didn’t used to believe in my body having any sort of intelligence. i just thought it did what I told it too and that was that. It’s taken some years and some very impactful health conditions to realise that in fact, my body is talking to me all the time, and I’ve just found ways of avoiding listening to it or putting it down to other factors. These days I hear it loud and clear and my sensitivity and awareness is increasing all the time as a result. I’m really enjoying having so much more understanding around what goes on for me.

  2. With food intolerances and allergies on the rise listening to our bodies and making the appropriate adjustments is the wisest thing we can do to care for ourselves in both the short and long term.

  3. In a small town near where I live, there are cafes popping up everywhere, this shows the high demand for coffee and the consumption of coffee is huge. This makes me wonder how people feel after drinking numerous cups of coffee every day, maybe racy, tired and not themselves?

  4. My body speaks as loudly as yours Jane. I used to think that was a curse, but now I realise its actually a blessing. It lets me know when food or drinks are bad for me, and it lets me know when I am being unloving or unkind to myself. I would much rather know than not know, as then I can change.

  5. Coffee shops march to total world domination continues… I was driving in the countryside and another Starbucks popped up literally in the middle of nowhere. Yes I’ve seen them in towns and cities, yes they are becoming connected to garages and pit stops, but this one looked like it had replaced a country pub or restaurant. It was a new sign of the times….

  6. Can you believe the explosion in coffee, I mean I remember years ago people drinking it but not the quantities they are now. I remember not drinking coffee at first because of the taste but then starting to drink it and being put off again from the tummy feeling but then starting again and now stopping again. I love chatting to people but don’t like the taste or the feeling of coffee. From where I stand it’s looking more and more out of control on the coffee front and I am pretty close to the industry even though I don’t drink the product. People say to me very frequently how addicted they are and how they can’t function without of coffee. There needs to be more conversations around it’s affects and how we are more and more regularly using it.

  7. We are mainly good overriding the initial adverse reaction against a substance, be that coffee, alcohol or a cigarette and often stubbornly get over and used to it so we fit into ‘normalcy’.

  8. The rise in coffee consumption is telling of another rise – and that is the sheer exhaustion the majority of humanity are in. Coffee is the go-to substance as the perk-up substitute for not giving ourselves what our bodies truly need – deep, rejuvenating rest instead of being in a constant relentless momentum to get somewhere, be someone, in order to tick the ultimate box that can never really be ticked anyway.

  9. I agree Jane, our body is a great guide to all things in life. It constantly communicates to us and when we listen there is so much we can learn about food, exercise, sleep, work, etc. and our relationship with ourselves and with people.

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