Ten days have elapsed since I entered the realm I never thought I would enter. Sanity and optimism are growing thin. But my will remains strong. I am boldly going where no New York-born Jew has gone before. I am entering the sector of the universe where…there is no coffee. (What, you thought I was going to say bagels? Nah, gave those up seven years ago.)
Yes, my friends, I am giving up coffee. Not forever. Just for a month.
Why? Well, I realized that if I’m going to ask nutrition clients to give up or at least cut way back on things they love, it’s only fair for me to do the same. Now, granted, I already do go without a lot of foods I once practically lived on, but it’s been years since I flat-out quit something cold turkey. Especially something I love as much as coffee. I decided I had to remind myself how hard it is. Bagels? Meh. Pasta? Rice? Truthfully, they don’t even look like food to me anymore. I’ve even been known to go a while without chocolate. But coffee? The NRA has nothing on me, baby. You will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. (And even then you’d better put a carafe in my coffin just in case! *Note: I get this from my mother. I suspect it was located on the same chromosome as the blue eyes.)
Mostly, coffee was comfort. It was my routine. I would wake up in the morning, visit the little girls’ room, and then head down to the kitchen to fish a filter out of the pack, measure out the coffee, and set the pot to brewing. (If I was in a serious hurry, I would use my housemates’ Keurig, but I’ve found the stuff I made myself was usually much better. [Finally, after years of being clueless about making decent coffee. Step one: buy good quality coffee beans.]) I would get dressed, and even before I was done, I could head back downstairs to pour myself half a cup to make being up and about while it was still dark outside that much more bearable.
Above all, coffee was my liquid hug. My day job for now (completely unrelated to nutrition) is one I’m glad to have for the sake of financial security, but one in which I find exactly zero satisfaction, fulfillment, or engagement. I’m single, and I live 200 miles away from my family. There isn’t a lot of “warm fuzzy” in my life at the moment, and I’m not above admitting that coffee was a warm pair of arms around me and a soft whisper in my ear, delivering my daily dose of “it’s going to be okay.”
|Amy's giving up coffee?|
But I just bought stock in Allegro!
I honestly don’t even think it was the caffeine I was addicted to. It was mostly the physical act of drinking it—and, during the workday, of stepping away from my desk for a while and reminding myself there’s more to life than cubicles and computer screens. Of course, a little stimulant shot in the arm (or down the hatch, as it were) never hurt when I was struggling to keep my eyes open on a slow day or when I’d had trouble falling asleep the night before. I confess, I was one of the millions of worker bees who could honestly not imagine making it through a day without coffee. But I don’t think I was quite as addicted to the wake-up effect as some.
See, I often drank half-caff, or even straight decaf. Only when I was especially sleepy (or grouchy, which, not coincidentally, went hand-in-hand with especially sleepy), would I get the full-throttle stuff. I won’t tell you where I work, but let’s just say it’s inside the DC Beltway and the building has five sides, which, if you want to get technical, makes it a pentagon, but you didn’t hear that from me. Anyway, there’s a Starbucks inside! (Your tax dollars at work! No, actually, if the line there at 8 a.m. is anything to go by, it’s most definitely our own paychecks at work. And then again, since most people who work there are government employees, government contractors, or military personnel, I guess it is our tax dollars at work. Touche.) Most of the time I would get my daily dose at the run-of-the-mill coffee shop, but if I needed “the real thing,” Starbucks was the place.
Teecino (which is AMAZING, by the way) or Dandy Blend (which is also very good, but I much prefer Teecino)? I decided that going that route would be obeying the letter of the law, but not the spirit. Sure, those things are naturally caffeine-free, non-acidic, not bitter, and all that other good stuff, but they would be close enough to that cup of liquid hug that I’d feel like I was breaking my own rule, even if I technically wasn’t. (Note: if you are trying to get off coffee, or even just cut back a little but aren’t ready to jump ship entirely to tea, I highly recommend Teecino. They have a ton of different flavors, and the three I’ve tried in the past were all delicious. You can do half coffee, half Teecino for a while, then ¾ Teecino. That’s how a lot of folks do it…by easing into it. Easier done at home than at work, but it’s still a viable strategy.)
|This is hard. Giving up coffee?|
Not so much.
|Do NOT tease me, Microsoft clip art!|
P.S. If not for all the tea I’m drinking now, this would probably be a good time to use the Crest WhiteStrips I’ve had in the medicine cabinet forever but haven’t tried yet.
P.P.S. Next thing I’ll try to go without: Peanut butter. (Yes, even the natural kind, where the ingredient list is: peanuts.) Even without hydrogenated soybean and canola oils, added sugar, molasses, and salt, I still find the stuff ridiculously addictive. And while I firmly do NOT believe most people need to count calories, at almost 100 calories per tablespoon, there comes a point where a PB addiction amounts to thousands of extra cals before I even know what’s hit me. And oddly enough, I’ve been eating a lot more PB than usual since I’ve been off coffee. Substituting one harmful addiction for another…not a good strategy. But I ain’t skeer’d. If I can give up coffee for a month, peanut butter’s got nowhere to hide)