I have been a part of the Canadian healthy lifestyle all of my life. As a young person, my family served meals that were rich in vegetables and nutrients. I would say that we were predominately vegetarian, but we did incorporate chicken and fish at times. When I went to University, I became a fan of beer or a glass of wine with dinner. I would never say that I was a heavy drinker, but a glass or two of wine per week was not uncommon. The caffeine and coffee question was a different matter. During my heyday as a personal trainer at Mayfair West Clubs, I would be drinking multiple espressos throughout the day and weekends. Coffee culture in Toronto is an acceptable borderline addiction. When people ask each other out, mainly the question is “Do you want to go for coffee?”
Last year, I remember when I went cold turkey from coffee. It felt like I was detoxing from a narcotic due to the mind constantly obsessing over the idea of just having a small sip. My mind and personality flat lined for about a week from the withdrawal, but I knew that I had to break the cycle. I missed the bitter in the morning, so I started drinking a product called CafLib which is a chicory and barley based coffee alternative. After a few weeks, my energy returned back to normal. Eventually I conceded to myself that I will drink one glass of decaffeinated coffee a day. I enjoy the taste of coffee, but the exhaustion and gut rot are experiences I no longer have to endure. I still start my day with CafLib though which for me is a happy balance.
I was noticing back in April that I had put on a tremendous amount of swelling in my face and mid section despite the three to four workouts in the gym each week. I’ve know for years that I have had a sensitive liver, so I decided to make the biggest change in my life … to give up booze. I’ve heard the AA stories about what it was like for addicts to give up alcohol and I’m aware that there is a certain chemical imbalance in addicts that cause them to require the drunken state. As many European families, alcohol was readily available my whole life. I would never say I got drunk very often (except when clubbing in my twenties), but at a nice meal, there was usually a chardonnay or a single malt scotch offered. Looking back, I don’t remember going more than a couple of weeks without a glass or two of some type of alcoholic beverage. When I chose last month to not drink anymore, it was not the same as quitting coffee. I’ve never needed to have a glass of wine, but coffee was always warm and wonderful way to start my morning like a hug and a kiss.
So, I quit booze and started taking a dandelion supplement to help my liver function more effectively. In two weeks, all of my swelling had subsided (10lbs and 2 inches in my waist). I looked physically ten years younger! Certainly, my gym workouts became more effective because I could see changes from workout to workout. I have truly become a morning person, and have a full day’s worth of energy. My mood is generally lighter and I find I am verbally quitter when talking with people. Last week, I noticed my sense of sound and smell has increased and I am able to hear a larger range and smell fainter odors. Maybe the function of the liver has a much larger impact on my brain than I realize.
For some people, caffeine and alcohol have almost no effect on their mood or body health. For me, I have truly found that these chemicals are intolerable for my sensitive system. The social question about alcohol is an issue. Generally sharing a drink together is part of how we connect with others. When I go to a restaurant, I order a drink with three equal parts of orange juice, cranberry, and soda water with two limes. The sweet an bitter combination are delicious. At home, I use a couple of ounces of lime cordial with soda water and limes in a wine glass. For people who want to take their body to the next level of health, I recommend quitting or substituting both of these chemicals (caffeine and alcohol) with healthier choices.