Having caffeine in the morning is like throwing gasoline on a fire. At least, that’s what it felt like for me. I was waking up riddled with anxiety and then promptly making myself a vegan cafe con leche (“latte,” for the uninitiated).
Because the taste reminds me of waking up before the sun with my Cuban grandfather and sharing stories over a cafecito. The taste, the smell – they’re comforting. What’s not comforting is shaky hands and fire burning in my abdomen, which I’d have to reckon with the rest of my day.
Seconded only to ‘mommy wine culture’, ‘mommy caffeine culture’ is all the rage. I defy you to open Instagram and scroll for more than a minute before finding a post about coffee. I myself own a tank top that proudly proclaims, “Running on Tupac and Caffeine.” Yet, I was beginning to wonder if there was another way.
Could I fuel my body without hitting the tripwire on anxiety?
All the health coaches in the land will tell you to start the day with a nice green juice or smoothie. But, there is nothing I hate more than something cold in the morning, and warm green juice is just about the most disgusting thing I can think of. Since those are a no-go for me, I started with chai lattes.
Making a chai latte in the traditional way is complex at best, so I opted for tea bags. It was actually easier than setting up the percolator in the morning. Warm oat milk on the stove while starting the tea kettle, and voila – chai latte.
Although the demands on my sanity remained the same, I noticed that the burning hole in my abdomen had disappeared. It was a start, but not ideal, as chai is a black tea, and therefore still has caffeine.
There had to be a warm beverage sans stimulants, but what?
Enter: Moon Milk.
I was sharing with a friend and sound healer about what was going on in my life and body when she shared this miracle elixir. I rounded up the ingredients that night – fresh ginger root, coconut oil, turmeric powder, and ashwagandha powder. Moon milk can also be made without ashwagandha, but Ayurvedic practitioners swear by its anti-anxiety properties, so I was all over it.
The next morning, I warmed oat milk on the stove. As the milk was warming, I cut a piece of ginger root the size of my thumb and peeled it. I chopped the ginger before adding it to the oat milk, with a few drops of coconut oil, a quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder (to taste), and one dose of ashwagandha for good measure.
I’d love to say that overnight I had all the energy in the world and never missed coffee again, but that would be a bold-faced lie. The first few days I was languid, but my anxiety had subsided and my stomach felt like it was all in one piece – progress. Then, in a week, my energy levels leveled out.
And she lived out the rest of her days completely caffeine-free and loving life.
I’m not the kind of person that believes in hard and fast rules about anything. I still enjoy coffee, but with awareness. The Moon milk has become a morning staple, though sometimes I’ll switch things up and enjoy barley and nut milk. Now, I think of coffee as a pleasure I may enjoy on a Sunday afternoon or a Wednesday after lunch. It’s no longer something I need to have to start my day in comfort or to fuel me through mommydom.
Happy National Caffeine Awareness Month.