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I have been holding off to write this post for a few reasons. I substantially cut back on coffee and dairy in May and just wanted to make sure my experiment was successful. Secondly, I needed to make sure I could do this.

Read on and you will understand why the selfie above.

Coffee

I have never been a coffee drinker until my 2nd child was born. With an active 4 year old I needed more energy after sleepless nights with the baby. Everyone around was drinking coffee so I thought “why not?!”. In Ukraine we didn’t have this coffee obsession. The only coffee people drank back then was Turkish coffee – very strong coffee in a tiny cup with no added milk or sugar. Then espresso and cappuccino came – a small shot or two with foamy milk. Then instant coffee Nescafe made its way after the collapse of the USSR. But still I always drank only black tea.

Coming to Canada and seeing so much coffee drinking happening was completely new to me. Especially the size of cups and the number of servings. And the quality of coffee…To me the see through brownish liquid is totally lacking flavour. It is so watered down. But anyways, not my business…

So, 5 years ago I jumped on a coffee bandwagon. Good strong organic brew. I loved the hype and energy. I never loved the extra trips to the bathroom and glasses of water but the energy was amazing. I couldn’t survive a day with kids without a cup of joe in the morning. I literally was jumping all day. I could feel caffeine in my blood that much. I have to say I am very sensitive to caffeine.

At same time I started sweating like crazy at night. Like soaking the sheets. I had to sleep naked and I was still sweating even under a sheet in winter with an open window. Alex was freezing to death. I thought that is because I work out a lot my body doesn’t cool down properly. So I made sure I really stretched well and cooled down after each workout. Still soaking the bed. It was disgusting.

I decided to see a family doctor. I thought maybe my thyroid is off. I honestly for the longest time thought my postpartum hormones went bananas. So off to see a doctor I went. OK. He sent me for blood and urine lab work and I was honestly scared to hear the results. Nope, everything is fine. Then the sweat went away and I thought fine. But then it came back…

So, for 4 years I have been going for a lab work once a year with perfectly perfect results. Thank God. And let’s be clear I was not going through menopause in early 30s.

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Dairy

Now, dairy…Where do I begin… I love dairy, especially Greek yogurt. At same time when I started drinking coffee I began working out. Many things really changed for me after the 2nd child. And of course all trainers recommend lean diet which is high in protein aka dairy and meat products. So, I was eating a lot of those which changed a lot since then.

My first problems started with whey protein. I noticed it gave me some facial acne. So I switched to plant based protein powders which took an adjustment taste wise. I am fine now. Then my skin seemed kind of fine but way from perfect or what I had before the 2nd pregnancy. I thought again my postpartum hormones were still off. Fine.

The last few years were the most horrible face wise. I started to break out with acne worse than in teenage years. Like cystic acne on my jawline and forehead around period time. I blamed it on wine but after taking it out for 4 weeks there was no changes. I thought of gluten – nope.

Beginning of this year it became a skin nightmare – I had cystic acne on my face, neck and body. I was heartbroken and shocked. My face looked like a sore spot. I couldn’t turn my face or wear my hair up. I don’t have a single closeup shot to show you the side of my face before because I wouldn’t take any. It was that bad.

So, I started my own research online without any doctors because I knew what I would hear – “everything is perfect!”. And guess what I found out…

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The Verdict

The caffeine in coffee increases your stress hormones. The stress response elicits cortisol and increases insulin. Which I suspect made me break out in sweat. Stress hormone also makes you age faster which made things even worse. So, I finally had an “aha” moment about my night sweats. OMG finally I can sleep in pjs and Alex without parka. I couldn’t wear cozy pjs for years!!! And who doesn’t wear Christmas pyjamas, right?!

Dairy, organic or conventional, is naturally full of hormones to make calves grow. No brainer, right?! So, that is what was causing my cystic acne. That is what was screwing up my hormones!!! Hallelujah.

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How

Now, I am not all or nothing girl. You will see me eating and drinking everything clean in moderation. I knew quitting coffee and dairy completely was not an option for me. And I tried it for 2 weeks and it was bad. Life was miserable. Like we are not talking about smoking which clearly should be nothing and 0 of all. Quitting smoking 5 years ago was hard but not the hardest. Every day I think how glad I am that I quit cigarettes before they aged and killed me.

So, I decided to stop consuming large portions of dairy on its own like a bowl of cottage cheese or yogurt but rather enjoy a bit of cheese in a casserole etc. And it worked. My face really cleared up within few weeks. A few menstrual cycles went by and my face is fine. No acne. I also learnt I can have a bowl of Greek yogurt as long as I don’t do it a few days right before my period or ovulation when hormones change.

As for coffee, I knew giving it up completely would be impossible as there is a social aspect to it. I try not to drink too much wine, not to eat much meat, barely any added sugar. What else should I give up for a healthy life?! So, balance was my key to happiness. I have tried to stop drinking coffee every morning a few times already so I went through headaches before. I knew I would be fine now. So, I just stopped drinking coffee first for a month and then slowly enjoyed decaf at night whenever we went for a walk with Alex. We like to do that sometimes. Now I can have a cup of coffee on a weekend and be perfectly fine. 70% of mornings I drink black or green tea.

And I am fine. I learnt to listen to my body and not to get extreme. I learnt that is what works for me. I don’t do well with prohibitions and there is no need to. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Life is not about that.

So, now I can turn my face any way and am not scared to be photographed. I wear only mascara and no makeup other than that. I can wake up in the morning without scaring anyone. Don’t you love my Russian English lol?! My skin is healthy and glowing. I have received many compliments lately on how fresh and young I look. Just being honest.

I hope this helps you if you are struggling like I was. Listen to your body, always!why-how-cut-back-coffee-dairy4

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8 Comments

  1. yeni

    Olena, thanks for this post. I’ve also given up coffee and dairy – only consume small amounts maybe 5%. Have you found any other effects from the Black or Green Tea? Just wondering since they both also contain caffeine. Not sure if these came with their own side effects. Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Olena

      Hi Yeni. I have not found the same negative effects from black or green tea. Yes, they contain caffeine but WAY less than coffee. Can’t even compare. I drink any caffeinated tea every day no problem.

      Reply
  2. Vera @ Vera'sCooking

    Wow, Olena, I was waiting for this post. You have mentioned sometime ago that you’re trying no coffee or dairy diet, and I was really anxious to find out if I’ll work for you. I do too experience what you did, everything except the sweats. I love my morning and afternoon cup of cappuccino, and can’t even imagine my life without it, but now I’m convinced to try. Never in my life I would think that my face break outs could be caused by caffeine.

    Reply
    • Olena

      I have good and bad news. Chances are break outs are caused more by dairy than coffee. If I were you I would take out dairy first and keep coffee for sanity. See what happens. Now how dear to your heart dairy is idk because for many Europeans it is in almost every meal. For my face break outs it was mostly dairy, I know that. I had a bowl of Greek yogurt last week and this week I paid for it. No cystic acne but little black dots breakouts and a few bigger ones on a neck. Hormones, oils etc.It is now back to normal. Amazing how food affects our bodies. Still blows my mind!!!

      Reply
  3. Olga Gav

    I have to admit that I was nervous to read this. lol I need a cup of coffee in the mornings to get me through the day 😫 I have thought about switching to green tea but wonder if I will have the same energy. Dairy thankfully isn’t as hard except for Greek yogurt. It’s my favorite snack. Maybe my mood swings will be better? Lol I’m curious if it will help me with clear pretty skin 🤔 It’s worth a try

    Reply
    • Olena

      Haha I have the same anxiety about opening articles about wine and health LOL. You have to try and see for yourself. Try it. Green tea gives me less energy than coffee but I got used to it. Greek yogurt is a big NO for my skin. It is the worst for it along with whey. But it is just me. Everyone is different.

      Reply
  4. Ashley

    I have to say that I am glad I came across this article. I have had acne along the same areas, along the hairline and the jawline. Thinking about it now, I have enjoyed greek yogurt at those times. When I go without for a while, the acne is usually gone. Thank you for opening my eyes!

    Reply
    • Olena

      You are welcome! Yes, particularly Greek yogurt and whey protein powder cause a ton of acne for me. Actually, whey is a by-product of Greek yogurt manufacturing so there you go. I can’t do both.

      Reply

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