I had already been to my therapist. Now it was time to follow up with my doctor. As I nervously shifted on the crinkly white paper, I rehearsed how I was going to tell my doctor that my anxiety disorder was flaring up. I scrolled through all the questions in my mind about my medication, symptoms, and possible next steps. I had been really struggling for more than a month; I needed to know there was a way forward.
I’m grateful to have a healthcare provider who takes her time, listens closely, and really cares about me. She also knows Jesus, and her love for Him and others shines even when her face is masked. So once we started talking about my racing heart and intense fatigue, I felt a bit more at ease. We talked through adrenal issues and what happens when our cortisol gets all out of whack. We talked about supplements and sleep and temporarily increasing my anti-depressant dosage.
And then she suggested something I wasn’t expecting.
“Have you ever done an elimination fast?” she asked. “Eliminating caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrates for a period of time could help reset your nervous and digestive systems, bringing you back to a healthier baseline.”
She encouraged me to take some time to think and pray about choosing a nutritional reset as part of my treatment plan. But I didn’t need time to think or pray about it. I knew in my gut that was exactly what I needed to do. Because in my anxious, distracted, fatigued, foggy-brained state, I had been relying more and more on the temporary pick-me-up of coffee. When I couldn’t think straight for a work project or afternoon homework with my kids, I was also quick to reach for salty carbs or the comfort of sweets to push me through. The pick-me-ups and push-me-throughs were short-lived. I knew I needed something different.
The Monday following my doctor’s appointment, I started my reset. I brewed cups of lemon herbal tea instead of strong coffee and prepped veggie sticks to curb my munchies. When the afternoon lull hit and I couldn’t keep going, I let myself take a nap instead of hyping up on Doritos or handfuls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
But even as I purposed to make healthier choices, going against the current of my typical rhythm revealed how deeply dependent I had become on coffee and comfort foods. Like a baby relentlessly reaching for her soothing pacifier, I found myself automatically reaching for sugary granola bars. I had a relentless craving for afternoon coffee and evening ice cream.
All of it pointed to this truth: Not only did I need a physical reset, I also needed a spiritual reset. I needed to face my habit of turning to caffeine and sugar more than I turned to Jesus.
I had swallowed the socially acceptable lie that life (especially as a working mom) was meant to be fueled by endless cups of coffee and chocolate bars, that it was okay to wrap my peace and hope around the drinks and snacks I could reach for, rather than my Savior. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying your favorite latte or a thick slice of pie. But what we are really made to crave is the thick presence of God.
I was more worried about withdrawing from my caffeine and sugar addiction than recognizing God’s invitation to draw closer to Him.
This was an opportunity to embrace a different rhythm that would reset not only what my body craved but what my soul craved. I had to learn in my full embodied self that there wasn’t any food or drink or treat that I needed more than the presence of Jesus and to experience anew how the joy of the Lord is my strength, not the joy of java or Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream.
For three weeks I pressed into the discomfort, headaches, and irritability from eliminating the foods and stimulants my body had become dependent on. My anxiety didn’t go away instantly. But as the jittery buzzing in my body slowly waned, deep, unexpected peace slowly increased.
The world preaches reaching for the quick fix: Get that double-shot latte or Botox shot. Drive through for the milkshake or let another Amazon order make you feel better. The list of possibilities is endless, but nothing we can buy or eat or wear or do to fix ourselves will provide the soul relief we really need.
Nothing but Jesus.
Before Jesus departed, He told His closest friends, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” (John 14:27 NIV)
That peace is the Holy Spirit — the gift of a constant companion; a relentless source of hope, guidance, and strength; an assurance we can count on when our jolt of caffeine runs out. Jesus deposited His peace in each of our hearts. Sometimes we just have to let go of the things that are numbing us, distracting us, or disconnecting us from our awareness of His presence and how much we desperately need Him.
I’m grateful to say my three-week reset resulted in decreased anxiety, better sleep, and healthier patterns I’m working to maintain going forward. But even on days I choose to enjoy a cup of coffee or a chocolate chip cookie, I remember that the most satisfying and sustaining thing I can ever reach for — and savor — is my relationship with Jesus.
Becky Keife says
Friends, comments were not working earlier. Ugh. But they are working now! I’d love to hear what God is teaching you and what resonates with you today. xoxo
Becky Keife. I love to read/listen to your articles narrated in the beautiful voice of Grace P. Cho. I love the way you are so vulnerable and so honest. Thank you for being like that. You remind me of King David – raving and ranting at God in his distress and then realising, as the calm and peace pervades his body, soul and mind, that God is in control. What a great story about healthy choices and choosing the Saviour above a quick-fix. Thanks for sharing. I got a revelation too from God as I listened to Grace’s soothing voice and followed your article simultaneously. (You are a prolific writer) We are children of God and He will take care of us. He’s got our back.
Becky Keife says
Well said, Marguerite! Yes, God always takes care of His children. And thank you for your kind words! They blessed my heart today.
Terri Scharn says
Thank you Thank you!!! This sounds like me !!! Tho there are some symptoms I don’t have, I want to work on my diet
Becky Keife says
I’m so glad this was encouraging for you, Terri. Blessings as you seek God’s help to pursue better health.
Terri Scharn says
Working on my diet to help me feel better
Thank you for sharing. I have been struggling with aching joints (due to auto immune conditions) & heavy stress. What you say is super interesting because I have been considering my food intake. Although I eat quite healthy, there are foods that trigger these pains…and as he promised, turning to prayer, reading God’s word, listening to Christian music will help fill us with his peace. I appreciate you encouraging me to continue my search for healthy choices as they relate to my condition and to rely on God’s promises!
Becky Keife says
Thanks for being here, Debbie! Yes, it’s such a partnership of making wise choices while fully relying on God.
Inspiring and encouraging read.
God Bless you, Becky.
Becky Keife says
Thank you so much! I appreciate you reading.
I have to say the minute you said “coffee addiction,” it was a trigger for me, and not in a good way. Years ago I had a counselor tell me that I was an addict because I drank coffee—or rather, I had an addictive personality because of that.
I didn’t take it well then, and I still struggle with it; it feels like I am being told, “you might as well have done everything else because you’re still not good enough.”
Which is true. We in and of ourselves are not “good enough.” That is where grace comes in. But it is still a daily battle for me. I don’t have the same issue with severe anxiety that my daughters do, but I have curbed my caffeine intake significantly over the years. At the same time, I have increased my time in the word and reading inspirational posts. Thanks for the reminder that a spiritual reset can go hand in hand with the physical.
(My pantry is full of caffeine free teas, lol.)
Becky Keife says
Shauna, yes, it’s not about condemnation but about pursuing a deeper connection with Jesus! Increasing our time in the Word is one of the richest investments we can ever make. Well done, sister. Raising my caffeine-free tea to you. 🙂
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Becky thank you for this post. I just to as woman that time of month crave Mars bars and Lucozade. I thought it would help me away back then before my hysterectomy I had for years ago past in October last year. Then I became that each month I couldn’t live with it. It was addiction. I took this notion in my head that it would help me. Give me the energy I needed each month. When that time of the month as woman. I eat and drink one every day it was that time of the month. I then one day found I was every month at that time running to toilet more than any other time of month it would wake me up to even go the toilet. I be a long time on it and putting on weight. One day I had to go Doctor. I asked my Doctor why I craving all the sugar each month at that time of the month. Plus running to toilet alot. My Doctor said your body does not need all this extra sugar in the chocolate and fizzy drinks you are drinking. So it trying to get rid of it along with all the stuff you are going through each month as part of being a women. Your brain makes you think you need it. My Doctor said if you have to something sweet at time of the month. Why not have a little jam on your toast at breakfast time. Just eat your three good meals a day and drink plenty of water as well as the odd cup of tea if you want. I found also when I was taking the Mars bars and Lucozade each month at time of month. I would not give God the proper time I should be giving him. All I had in my mind was my Mars bars and Lucozade. As long as I had that I be ok. Then I went home from the Doctors that day. I said you know what the Doctor could be right. That could be the cause of me running to the toilet alot each month at that time of the month. I get getting in my each month at time my child listen to me. But I would not listen I was just instreasted in my Mars bars and Lucozade. I then got the scripture 1 Samuel 3 verse 11. It says “Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times Samuel Samuel and Samuel answered speak your servant hears” I knew at that moment God was putting my name in place of Samuel’s So I had to say like the end of that verse speak Lord for your servant hears. As I did hear loud and clear. I God spoke to me said Mars bars and Lucozade need to go. Trust me. As Proverbs 3 verse 5 said “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” I did give up the Mars bars and Lucozade each month. It was hard until my body got used to me not having them that time of the month. I said God when at the start what should I do. God said if need a tiny bit of sugar have a little jam on your toast. I go through it. I go each month I didn’t need the Mars bars and Lucozade. I got God took away my desire to want them at that time of the month. Now years after that until I had my hysterectomy that I needed. I never think of them and now I have my hysterectomy behind me 4 years ago it never comes into my head to buy them or a bar of chocolate or anything fizzy if in a shop that sells them. I away back then before my hysterectomy when I gave them up and my body got used to not having them. I didn’t run to toilet as often. I becan every month to be a better person with out them. I felt so better in myself. Thanks to God him making me listen to him I am so glad I did. I got my body each month was alot better without them. But it did take awhile for God to get my attention. Sometime God will keep on at you like he did until he got Samuel attention. Then Samuel said speak Lord for your servant hears. I did same. keeping you all incourage in my prayers. Thank you again Backey for sharing this from your life as it spoke to me about what I was doing to my body away back then. Sometimes we need that reminder. So we ever slip back like your reading today.
Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Beth Williams says
Life can be hard at times. These last few years have been extraordinarily tough on many. The easy fix is to grab coffee, tea, cola or worse an energy drink. Our bodies weren’t meant for that much caffeine. It makes your heart race. Sure you have more energy to get jobs done, but at what cost? I am just as guilty as the next person. I drink way to much caffeinated tea in a day. The best thing we can do for ourselves is drink more water. Water has many nutrients & is better for you. Eating healthier snacks & perhaps intermittent fasting is a plus. You hit the nail on the head when you said we should turn to Jesus. Driving to work I pray & listen to Christian music. That puts me in a good & calms me. It helps set the tone for the day ahead.
Thank you for being so vulnerable. Sharing your struggles may help someone.
Faye Adams says
Great post. Thank you for sharing.