Monday, August 1, 2016

SFL Series: Clearing the Fog

Occasionally I check my stats here at the blog to see what posts people are reading most. Sometimes articles are viewed that I wrote a long time ago, so I click on them to jog my memory. Today I noticed that a few people had read a post from the joie de vivre series that I wrote three years ago. I have written a lot about French inspiration and the unique joy of life that the French possess. This slow family living idea is in the same vein.

Right now I want to talk about "brain fog". This phrase has come up in things I've been reading lately. People have trouble with memory and concentration. They lack energy and focus, feeling like they are going through their days not quite awake. I know this feeling well. The typical American cure is coffee. And more coffee. And lots of coffee all day long.

I got a few books (okay, a small pile!) from the library by Dr. Mark Hyman. He does not appear to be a fan of caffeine. It's a major toxin, he says. On the path to getting healthy, he recommends gradually cutting down on the coffee until--gasp!--one is caffeine free.

At this many of us dig in our heels. We love our coffee! Because we like the taste. Not because we are addicted. Hey, coffee is a French thing, no? I hate to admit it, but not everything the French do is to be celebrated. They have many good, healthy cultural habits. And I'm going to guess that they probably don't take the coffee habit to excess. They are excessive in nothing but their passion for life. So yes, they enjoy a quality cup of java. I seriously doubt any of them are drinking full pots of Maxwell House or Folger's every day.

The French way would be to drink the highest quality coffee you can afford, to sit and drink it slowly, savoring the aroma and flavor; dunking a baguette for breakfast in it; enjoying people watching from an outdoor cafe. This is not how we drink coffee in America.

My husband and I do drink high quality coffee. I do sit and enjoy it. At first. But I can drink coffee through the morning hours without eating any breakfast, the result of which is jangled nerves, an upset stomach, and not much relief from the brain fog. Dr. Hyman says, in fact, that caffeine ends up depleting one's energy. It also interferes with sleep. So what am I going to do?

Well, I've been cutting back, and my stomach does feel better. Not feeling well in my stomach is what finally convinced me that coffee is my enemy. My goal today is to drink tea instead, which has only a third of the caffeine as coffee. I like organic Earl Grey. But when the Earl Grey is gone, I'm going to switch to what I have left of my Yerba Mate, a tea with naturally occurring caffeine that doesn't jangle the nerves or upset the stomach and is chock full of nutrients. I'm also drinking Women's Energy tea from Yogi, which contains the hormone balancing herb, dong quai. 

In addition to cutting the caffeine I'm eating healthier. This morning I ate a good breakfast of eggs scrambled with non-GMO soy milk, and plain, organic whole milk yogurt with farmers market black berries. Food is a topic we will explore in depth as we go along. The idea is to be truly healthy and to feel good in body, mind, and spirit. It isn't to lose weight, though that will likely be a natural consequence. A sluggish mind, heartburn, nausea, dehydration, insomnia, and constipation aren't worth what might be benefited from the caffeine habit. It's time to let go of the denial. If you don't feel good, you aren't healthy. What small step can you take to feel better today?


  1. I, too, am trying to break my coffee a̶d̶d̶i̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n habit. I am 49, and having several health irritations, one obvious one being heartburn (maybe also an ulcer). I LOVE the book "Nourishing Traditions" (it is beat-up enough for people to know I use it). I am interested in the Yogi tea you recommend, because I am dealing with brain fog and negative feelings. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I really enjoy following your musings. :) I, too, grew up non-Catholic. My parents started going to a Disciples of Christ church--a liberal version of Church of Christ--when I was 14, but had on and off attended many Christian denominations. I was blessed to marry a Catholic and join the church that completes me!

    1. Hi Anonymous! I'm 47, and I relate to much of what you wrote. I have cut down on the coffee and am drinking it from a smaller cup. I do hope to kick the caffeine habit, but it's hard! I'll see if I can find Nourishing Traditions from the library. I married a Catholic too, but he wasn't practicing at the time! After my conversion, he came back to the Church. Such a blessing! I'm glad you enjoy my blog. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment. Be well, Rita Michele

  2. Dear readers, I had a very nice comment from "Anonymous" which I tried to publish, but I fear I accidentally deleted it. I'm so sorry! Please re-comment if you would like.


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