Coffee Alternatives: Why You Might Want to Try Them and What to Try!

I don’t drink coffee. And not because I don’t like it. I LOVE it. And not because it isn’t healthy, it is.

The sad state of affairs is that when I drink coffee I get reflux and nausea. Every. Single. Time. But more than that. For me, it also leads to anxiety.

This is something I see commonly with my patients and clients. Yes, even with “just” one cup in the morning. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not vilifying your coffee. There are many benefits (I’ll get into that in another post). But if you have anxiety, headaches, reflux, fatigue, or high blood pressure it might be worth seeing what life is like without coffee. After all, you can’t make an educated decision if you don’t know how you feel without it. 

Here are some of the reasons that people tell me they drink coffee (and my typical counterargument for those who may do better without it.)


  • It’s delicious. (So are sour gummy bears, I don’t have those every morning.)
  • Without it they feel tired. (You don’t have a caffeine deficiency, something is making you tired and you should address that.)
  • It gives them an extra edge/they get more done. (So would cocaine. I mean it’s not going to be laced with fentanyl, and it’s legal, and has lots of benefits but if this is why you are drinking coffee ask yourself if that is ok with you? If so…good! If not, let’s look at why and what else can give more of an edge.)
  • If they don’t drink it they get headaches. (That’s withdrawal. Cutting down slowly will prevent this.)
  • The term “coffee alternatives” makes them cringe.
  • It’s a habit. (Is it a habit that is harmful to you? If so, there are lots of ways to break habits!)
  • They need it to poop! (Sure, yes. But you should be able to poop without coffee, let’s address your digestion.)
  • A family member drinks it and it’s too tempting not to when the smell is wafting through the house. (Fair…but a good enough reason? There are compromises that can be made here.)
  • A hot drink in the morning is soothing, part of a morning ritual. (There are lots of lovely drinks that can be part of a morning ritual.)

And these are all reasonable. Unless they aren’t. (more…)

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Happy 1st Birthday to Overcoming Overwhelm!

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since my book came out. And what a year it’s been!

Dozens of podcast and radio interviews.

Articles in some of the best read online magazines.

And of course my reading and book launch at Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland.

My heart.

Almost 200 people showed up on a dark/cold/rainy winter night. They ran out of books. And chairs.

My sincere thanks to each of you for your support over the last year. Your encouragement and feedback have fueled my soul.

What an amazing journey so far. And more, of course, to come!


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Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, Try a New Year’s Theme

Around this time of year, the internet is flooded with articles about making New Year’s Resolutions, goals, and plans. I’m a big fan of looking ahead but I am adamantly opposed to resolutions. Why? Because not only is it human nature to have trouble sticking to change, but with resolutions, we create an all-or-nothing situation that practically guarantees we will feel that we’ve ‘failed’. It’s do or don’t do. You know, if you follow me at all, that I don’t believe that it is possible to fail at self-care.

Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean that I think that everyone will follow through with their resolutions.

In one study only 19% of people were able to keep their resolutions long term. In my experience with patients and clients, I would say often even lower than that. And then, from where I sit, worse than not keeping the resolutions, I see patients and clients drowning in self-deprecation, self-judgment, and shame they layer onto themselves for not keeping resolutions…. “Again.”

This makes the concept of turning over a new leaf another opportunity to judge ourselves harshly. And really, who needs that?

But there’s more to consider: What do we want to model for our friends, our families, our children? For most of us, we want to model that it is important to help others but not to put everyone else first at the expense of taking care of ourselves.

We want to show that knowing what is most important is invaluable and that making choices in alignment with our values is imperative.

And we want to teach that true kindness to ourselves means not trying to do it all and then feeling badly that we can’t. 

But do we then skip resolutions altogether? The things we tend to choose as resolutions are things that are important to us, that we’ve been trying to change to no avail. And I am a HUGE fan of getting clear about what is most important and working toward this for ourselves. 

What is the answer then? 

Themes or intentions.

Having New Year’s themes instead of resolutions allows room for goals shifting with life shifting. Because if there’s one thing you can count on it’s that life shifts.


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My Top 5 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Stress

So many years ago, my guys.

Can you believe the holiday season is already here? It’s time to wrap up calendar year projects, go to holiday parties, buy all the things if we do gifts, decorate, and get ready emotionally and physically for the dawn of a new decade.

It can be a joyous and fun time for many, and a sad lonely time for others. But regardless of how this season sits it is almost always a time of increased stress and overwhelm.

Of course keeping your overall load down is the most important thing (go grab my book if you don’t already have it as it will help you do just that!) but in the meantime I put together a list of my top five tips for keeping stress down at the holiday season

  1. Get clear on what is most important to you at the holiday season and then use this to decide what you are going to say ‘yes’ to and what you are going to say ‘no’ to. If you want to feel peaceful? Say no to the 4 parties on one day. If you want to feel energetic? Put your phone down and go to bed on time. If you want to keep your immune system healthy? Be moderate with your indulgences and wash your hands a gazillion times a day.
  2. Pay attention to your immune system. One of the best ways to keep your stress down is to stay healthy through the winter. This means keeping your immune system in tip top shape. So in addition to that watch your indulgences thing, you’ll also want to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. I usually recommend getting your levels tested and shooting for a blood level of 50-70 ng/ml. For most adults I typically see that 2000-5000 iu of vitamin D daily is an appropriate dose. Of course, check with your doctor on specifics.
  3. Be sure to prioritize sleep. You’ll be more resilient, healthier, in a better mood, and more able to deal with the holiday stress. Enough good quality sleep is one of the biggest keys to keeping your mood in check. (If you need some tips for better sleep consider my free 8 day Energy Infusion email series!)
  4. Studies show that volunteering is good for your own stress level—as long as your motivation is for the benefit of others and not yourself. Find an organization you think is doing great work and carve out some time to help.
  5. Set boundaries. With the onslaught of parties and events, visitors and responsibilities it’s easy to get into more than we can reasonably handle. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’ My favorite tip for this is to tell people, when they ask for something to say ‘I’m not 100% sure if that can work for me, I’ll send you an email by tomorrow end of day to let you know.’ That gives you a chance to actually consider whether it is something you really want to do, and also makes it a little easier to let people down gently.

I could go on and on and on here but for now, try these. And please let me know how it goes. I really want to know (I’m @DrSamanthaND on all the socials, so you don’t even have to email me)!

Yours in Health,



PS: Here’s an info-graphic version of this article if you need a visual reminder!

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Overcoming Overwhelm: Dismantle Your Stress Video

Why you can’t ohm your way through carpool, get a monthly massage, or drink chamomile tea to solve your stress and overwhelm: you have to take time to dismantle your stress from the inside out.

This video is an excerpt from my book

Overcoming Overwhelm:
Dismantle Your Stress from the Inside Out

Learn more about my book and/or read an entire sample chapter here



A New Understanding of Overwhelm

You can’t solve stress and overwhelm by doing the same things you’ve been doing but doing

them harder, more, and better. You can’t solve them simply by “learning to say no” or turning

your back on things that are important to you. (more…)

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Cook This: Dairy-free Cream of Veggie Soup

This recipe is an adaptation of one I first made about 30 years ago (in my vegan days) from The American Vegetarian Cookbook from the Fit for Life Kitchen by Marilyn Diamond. Better hot but also good cold IMO!

There have been many incarnations of this soup in my life, including as a staple at the health food deli where I worked–along with a catering job–to finance an 8-week trip to an ashram in India (that, my friends, is a story for another time.)

Lately I’ve simplified the soup to the bare bones for a quick and delicious low allergen side dish. Sometimes I have this with a side of tempeh, sometimes chicken, and it’s a really great side with salmon.

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