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.