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Dr. Aimée Derbes, LAC

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119 8th Street, Suite 205
Brooklyn, NY, 11215
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Coffee + me : not a love story

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At my offices in Brooklyn (serving Gowanus, Park Slope, and Greenpoint) and Manhattan (Union Square), I see patients who are dealing with chronic pain (back pain, neck and shoulder pain, knee pain, hip pain, and ankle pain), headaches + migraines, digestive issues (IBS, colitis), infertility, stress, insomnia, PMS, women's health, and autoimmune conditions (Lyme, Hashimoto's, thyroid conditions, and many more).

Coffee + me : not a love story

Aimée Derbes

(^^ photo of my last coffee. RIP)

On the heels of yesterday’s Women’s March on Washington, I am riding a fresh wave of inspiration and renewed commitment to myself and my best possible health. I woke up this morning with a line from Clarissa Pinkola Estes on my mind: "What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life?"

And immediately I knew order of business #1: I’m breaking up with you, coffee. It’s not you, it’s me -- I realize I have outgrown the structure of our relationship, and what we have together just isn’t supporting me anymore. I have work to do, and I can’t take you with me on my ascent. Lots of love, XOXO.

If you’ve ever questioned whether or not you should keep drinking coffee, you probably already know the answer….am I right? Read on for my story, and how you can bypass the scientific evidence and go straight to your own wisdom about what’s best for you when it comes to your morning French press. Also, I’m including a link to a tapping video, to support you in accepting whatever arises as you let go of any habits that no longer serve you.

< I invite you to come see me for acupuncture for support with balancing your adrenals and hormones, building back your energy, and reconnecting you to your true self, motivation, and inspiration. >

Coffee + me : not a love story

For many of you, coffee was love at first sip, a can’t-live-without-you level of passion and devotion. But for me, coffee has never been a true love, more like a lukewarm lazy relationship I slipped into when I wasn’t paying attention to whether or not we really liked each other. The seeds of our demise were planted in the way we got together in the first place. I was 22 and working in my first professional post-college job, as a legal assistant at a big fancy law firm. (If you’ve met me, you are laughing, because I am ridiculously ill-suited for life in a big fancy law firm, but there I was, in my ill-fitting button down shirts and -- ew -- slacks, trying my best to suck it up and adult, already, because, rent.)

On a lunch break one day, dreading my impending return to the office, I spontaneously stopped into a cafe and asked for a soy latte before I remembered that I didn’t like coffee. But as I sipped it down, I noticed that it wasn’t bitter at all -- actually, it was rather delicious! (Which reminds me -- more about sugar and soy another day, to be sure…) And then, in spite of my racing heart, palpitations, jittery shakes, and rushed speaking, the rest of the day in the depressing office full of stressed lawyers was tolerable, maybe even kind of fun!

That night, lying in bed (unable to sleep, of course, due to the half-life of caffeine), I knew I had found it -- the medicine needed to stay engaged at a job that wasn’t even close to a good fit. Something to lean on to cope with a situation that I was too afraid to change. At first, I tried to save coffee for especially bad work days, but eventually, the cafe was an everyday stop on the walk to my office.

After a year and a half, I quit that job and stopped buying soy lattes without even realizing it -- I just didn’t need it anymore, because I was excited and energized by the work I was now doing, (working on global clean energy policy issues), and it naturally fell away.

Fast forward 10 years, when I fell in love with a man who drank 2 double espressos a day, upon waking and at 4pm, like clockwork. For him, New York City was untenable without coffee, because he was naturally mellow and felt he couldn’t keep up without the kick that coffee provided. Unconsciously, I found myself having an americano every morning along with him. It felt like a ritual, a nice way to start the day together, and I came to defend it. But, as before, it became a lazy way of coping with things in my life that were difficult or not working -- Chinese medicine school, for example, which was a 5-year nonstop grind, and, eventually, the relationship. After a few years, we parted ways, but the mindless coffee drinking hung around like a ghost.

It was no longer a choice that I was consciously making. Once again, I was not paying close enough attention, but the universe sure was -- 3 out of the 4 cafes on my block in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn have closed in the past 6 months. !!! I'm finally listening

Why “is coffee good or bad?” is not the right question

This is not another opinion piece about whether or not coffee is “good” or “bad.” Evidence-based science has been trying to figure that out for decades, to no definitive conclusion, as researchers continue to pump out new studies that say coffee enhances health, or coffee damages health.

In fact, the whole “good for you” vs. “bad for you” storyline is, in my opinion, one way that agribusiness and the media use information to lock us in cycles of powerlessness, self-judgment, and addiction: if coffee is bad, but we drink coffee all day every day, we spend our days “knowing better” but beating ourselves up for failing to quit. If coffee is good, we justify our habit (or for some of us, addiction) with “science,” and become rigid in our thinking. It’s not hard to find studies that support just about any belief we may have about our food or health choices, and the danger of this is that we can too easily close our minds and dig even deeper into our habits, shutting out any information that doesn’t support our stories and desire for immediate gratification.

I recommend that, instead of looking for supposedly definitive information outside of ourselves, why not look to the source (hint: our own bodies) for the truth about whether or not coffee enhances our health or slowly wears it down? All of the information you need is already inside you, and it’s often just below the surface, hidden in plain sight because we are afraid to listen and trust our own knowing. Because if we did, we might have to heed the call to make some upgrades, which may seem too challenging, especially if we feel we’re in it alone without support.

Just know that I, for one, completely support you and accept your choices, no matter what they are -- every choice you make brings you new opportunities to learn something about yourself, and you are the expert on your own life. Maybe, right now, coffee is the right thing for you -- if it is, I want you to know that because you took the time to really find out how coffee feels in your body, and because you consciously made a choice to include it in your diet. By closing your eyes and tuning into your experience in your bodies, you can access your own information and wisdom. You can find out for yourself whether the way you feel after drinking coffee supports your energy, emotional state, and best possible health.

Find out for yourself

After your next cup of coffee, take a few minutes to check in with your own expert self. Find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes, and breath deeply through your nose into your belly for 1 minute. Ask:

  • What sensations are present in my body in this moment?

  • Does my energy feel even and balanced?

  • How does my heartbeat and blood movement feel?

  • Am I comfortable and centered?

  • Is there anything my body would like to tell me?

  • Is there an experience or feeling that I’m using coffee to avoid?

  • Is the way I feel in my body right now the way I’d like to feel?

  • Is the energy I have going to help me get where I want to go in my life?

No matter what comes up, tapping can help support any emotions or resistance that arise as you learn what’s best for you and take action to let go of old habits. Follow along with this video while repeating “Even though ______ (I don’t want to quit coffee / I have a raging headache / I am angry that my partner doesn’t support my choice to quit smoking / I feel alone in wanting to change / etc), I deeply and completely accept myself.”

I don't know whether coffee is "good" for you or not, and I never will. I do know that, for me, I have work to do in the world, and coffee isn't the deeply nourishing fuel that will really power me to achieve my goals and vision. And when I'm able to connect with the big picture and my future self, it's easier for me to let go of habits that have become obstacles on my path. What's true for you?