January is a month of detoxes, crash diets, and makeup-for-the-holidays resolutions. But what if this year we take a more sustainable approach to nourishing body and mind? After all, it’s the small habit changes that have the most powerful impact on our overall, long-term health.

Today we speak with our very own founder and CEO, Nicole Centeno, about how and why she gave up coffee, and what she’s learned about herself during the process.

Splendid Spoon: Hi Nicole! Why did you decide to give up coffee?

Nicole Centeno: I had dinner with an amazing woman, Alissa Vitti, the founder of FloLiving, and she blew my mind! She had used food to heal hormonal imbalances causing polycystic ovarian syndrome, and her story was incredibly inspiring. I don’t have PCOS, but I’m always looking for ways to optimize (I hate to use the word optimize — it makes me sound like a computer — but it’s accurate for how I move through life!) my health through behaviors and food.

It turns out that women don’t metabolize caffeine (or anything, for that matter) in the same way as men. So while it’s a great jolt of energy for half the population, it contributes to hormone imbalances for the other. One of the many symptoms of hormone imbalance for women is breakouts. I quit coffee to make my skin better.

SS: What did your coffee habit look like before you gave it up?

NC: Drip coffee first thing, every morning, and sometimes a latte or cortado in the afternoon. Nothing major, but I relied on it as a morning ritual and looked forward to it as a sometimes-treat in the afternoon.

SS: Were you aware of any negative impacts before you gave it up?

NC: I didn’t think there were any side effects to drinking coffee, but looking back, it was lame that I’d get a headache if I didn’t get my coffee dose in the morning. I also think it made me more tired in the middle of the day.

SS: What side effects did you experience when you gave up coffee?

NC: I would get a headache in the morning, so I had to wean myself with tea after I’d eaten breakfast. Then I slowly replaced caffeinated tea with herbal tea, or another herbal concoction.

I missed my big adrenaline jolt. I craved that speedy feeling. I really worked with sitting with the absence of the caffeine rush, trying to understand what I loved so much about it!

SS: What physical changes have you noticed since giving up coffee?

NC: My skin is so much clearer. I used to break out a lot on my forehead and that’s completely stopped. My energy levels are also even all day. I fall asleep easily at night, and wake up without an alarm.

SS: Do you miss it? Have you added another drink to your morning routine?

NC: If I’m really craving a jolt, I’ll buy a cortado and relish it. However, I’m now so sensitive to caffeine that I rarely finish that little cup! I’ll enjoy it, but I’m so accustomed to the consistently “chill” energy, that I’m happy when the adrenaline rush subsides.

Instead, I’ll drink Four Sigmatic mushroom elixirs, tons of herbal tea, or this moringa mixture. I’ll have a Splendid Smoothie in the morning too, obviously ;).

SS: What has this experience taught you about yourself?

NC: I have a deeper appreciation for my body as a very complex system. I thought I would just have clearer skin (the reason I quit for vanity reasons!), however, it’s revealed so much more than that. It’s liberating to know I can start my day with just my body and my intentions.

We take our everyday habits for granted: we go through the motions because it’s what everyone else does or because it’s worked for us for so long. It was incredibly powerful for me to question this very popular stimulant, provide space to experiment with quitting it, and respect my body’s reaction to life without it.