Are you craving what I’m craving?

So, you know those foods or drinks that are associated with a certain season, weather, feeling, nostalgia, etc.?

Sometimes it’s apple cider, banana bread, a mojito, or a bowl of watermelon?

Well I’ve got one that is bombarding me from every direction right now… Pumpkin Spice Latte – Starbucks and gas station variety.

Truth is, I used to be a gas station fancy-coffee junkie. I loved the French vanilla lattes (yeah, like a gas station drink is going to taste like an authentic French latte, not sure what I was thinking?) and seasonal favorites like white mocha and gingerbread.

I associate the pumpkin spice latte with warmth, fall leaves, cozy days, sweaters, boots, great times with friends, and delicious smells wafting through the air…But I also genuinely love the taste so it’s not just emotional here.

The dilemma… you all know my thoughts about refined sugar (check out this article on What’s More Addictive Than Cocaine), but I also stay away from large amounts of caffeine as much as I can. Both of these led me to hormonal imbalance, PMS, digestion issues, sleep complications, acne, and just plain feeling crappy (and sometimes like I was on crack). Both of these ingredients are LOADED into these bad boy (secretly desire) drinks.

Caffeine has the obvious symptoms of: pick-me-up’er (and then big crash), messes with our sleep, and gives nasty coffee breath, but you might not know what else it is doing to your body (like keeping unhealthy weight on or intensifying the dreaded PMS).

To find out what hidden things caffeine might be doing and some great tricks to minimize the effects… check out the Pick-Me-Up’er (and drop her) article below and my amazingly delicious Pumpkin Spice Mock-te recipe below that quenched my craving, kept me off of the crack, and didn’t make my body take a roller-coaster ride of hormones.

Pick-Me-Up’er (and drop her)

It’s hard to avoid…Starbucks is literally on every corner in major cities and just around the block in small towns. Now, I’m not coming down on Starbucks itself (who doesn’t love the friendly little mermaid greeting you with each sugary sip?) and I would be a liar to say I don’t have a little treat every couple of months, but I will she some light on what that caffeine (+dairy + sugar overload) is actually doing to our bodies.

Do you ever wonder… why you can eat so “healthy” and exercise and still not lose weight or the dreaded muffin top? why you can get 8 hours of sleep and still be tired the next day? Or why you are craving sugar every chance you can get?

Well my sweet loves… caffeine has a place in this equation and it isn’t the solution to these little (and big) problems.

For our biology lesson today….The time it takes for the body to eliminate half of a normal dose of caffeine is between 3 to 12 hours! While it is in the body having a party, it is affecting various organs and hormones causing our body to get a temporary energy boost (adrenaline) only to leave us to crash (i.e. feel depressed and fatigued).

Grab another cup then, right? Eeek! This perpetuates the cycle only to leave us feeling more agitated and on edge (identified by a decrease in adenosine – know to calm the body and allow for deep sleep).

Additionally, caffeine increases the stress hormone, cortisol, which elevated levels are associated with weight gain (particularly around the mid-section – hello muffin top!), moodiness, and potential long-term effects such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

So why do you feel good at first? Caffeine releases the feel-good hormone dopamine, which is great when it’s released, but once it crashes, we crash and can feel low and depressed leaving us craving more caffeine and sugar and lacking the motivation to accomplish goals, workout, or do daily life tasks.

Couple the caffeine with the loads of sugar and dairy in those drinks… you really are setting yourself up for a disastrous crash. This may be serious weight gain, but also depression, anxiety, PMS, adrenal failure, thyroid complications, brain fog, insomnia, and more.

So what can you do? I’d be crazy to tell you to ditch your cup(s) of Joe and never look back without thinking one of you might come hunt me down…so why don’t we try something a little less killer-like and take a stab at one of the following:

  1. Drink just ½ cup less than you normally do
  2. Sign up for the 21-day REset Cleanse to nip the caffeine habit (and the sugar addiction) in the butt.
  3. Try an alternative:
  • Rock the Pumpkin Spice Mock-te below (without coffee or with a smaller amount)
  • Try Teecino – a blend of herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that are roasted and ground to brew and taste just like coffee. You can get single tea bags or you can brew the grounds just like you do coffee! You don’t even have to change your morning routine! Check out the variety of coffee flavors they have here.
  • Green smoothie – Start rotating these into your morning routine and you’ll start to notice you crave them and the energy punch they provide.
  • An apple – Just one has more of a picker-me-up’er than a cup of coffee… And one a day keeps the doctor away. :)

And for all of yous out there that think, phew, I don’t drink coffee, I’m in the clear, think again. All those lovely sodas and energy drinks (like mountain dew, root beer, Sunkist, coke, pepsi, dr. pepper, red bull, and even those organic natural ones) have caffeine and have the same harmful effects.

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