I love coffee.
Not just a little – but like A LOT.
So much so that I think about it as I get ready for bed, seeing it as my reward for waking up the next day.
I love shopping for things to accompany my coffee, as well, like new non-dairy creamers – low in sugar but high in tastiness fuels my on-going search.
I have even dropped my kids off late to school for coffee – making one of the older ones run inside Starbucks to grab my mobile order to cut down on their tardiness. The reward points ease my guilt – only slightly.
And for all of these reasons, I also hate coffee – for the large role it plays in my life, the time it takes up in my day and the real estate it occupies in my mind.
It seems I am addicted to coffee. Aren’t we all?
In our culture with Starbucks at every corner, no one would call a cup of coffee a day an addiction – perhaps calling it a ritual, a habit or a necessity. I know my coffee habit affects my mood, wallet and time. Because I need it, organize my life around it and don’t necessarily feel good after drinking it, it registers more like an addiction to me.
I also I don’t think coffee is good for my body. Everyone is different, of course. But considering that I spend so much time and effort trying to soothe my nervous system, reduce stress and increase my sleep, I realize coffee only sabotages those efforts. Research backs that chronic coffee consumption can boost cortisol along with blood pressure and also impact hormones and adrenal glands, along with stress.
Also, over the last few years of adopting a more holistic and ayurvedic approach, my body has become more sensitive to things that were a normal part of my regular diet, including sugar, wheat and alcohol. I just can’t eat like I used to. I guess I can’t drink like I used to either.
But I’m too “hard core java” to think matcha lattes and earl grey tea were going to be adequate substitutes, as well. The only way out was to go cold turkey.
But was I ready to give up coffee?
For months, maybe years, the answer was – heck, no! And I let myself be in that space for as long as I needed. I have learned to give myself the time and space I need when it comes to change.
Shortly after moving up to the Bay Area though, I found myself living out of boxes for weeks as I settled into my new city and home. During that time, I also lived on take out food, which included lots of pizza (both gluten-free and glutenous) and increasing amounts of coffee (2-3 cups a day) and wine to wind down at night. Soon, my body began feeling the effects – with a few extra pounds packed on, increasing lethargy and an overall feeling of being in a BAD mood ALL the time.
I was a lot of fun to be around.
Soon, I felt ready for change. A cleanse felt needed to reset my health and get back on track. For me, it is easier to cut out ALL temptation than leave the door open to certain types of food. I’m a master at finding loopholes. So, a very restrictive cleanse is best for me. I decided to go with a 5 day fasting mimicking diet.
Though my experience with the FMD diet was mixed, I went 5 days full days without coffee for the first time in YEARS. For this alone, I considered myself victorious.
But the question lingered: how long would this last?
For the first few days after the cleanse, I didn’t crave or even think about coffee. I felt so uninterested in drinking coffee that I thought I had kicked the habit for good.
But soon enough, the temptation returned as I returned to my normal routine. As I was getting the kids ready for school, I wanted a warm cup of coffee to cozy up to while they ate. When out at a diner, I craved a cup of coffee topped off with deli creamer to enjoy with my eggs.
I soon realized that ordinary morning moments were triggering my need to drink coffee.
Rather than fight the habit, I searched for some coffee alternatives. I also reconsidered my goal of abstention.
I had come across products from Raw Revelations at the La Jolla farmer’s market and loved their Golden Milk product. I turned to them for their coffee replacement product after reading stellar reviews from others who quit coffee and found their products a suitable replacement.
A mix of chicory and stress-easing additives like Holy Basil and Ashwagandha, Coffee Fix and Vegan Latte Fix were a good choice for me. And so, I began drinking a combination made with almond milk for a latte-like experience that felt like a real coffee substitute.
That got me through many days, but there were some that I felt tired and desired some caffeine. So, I considered a new goal: focusing on consistently lowering my caffeine intake instead of quitting coffee. That goal felt more achievable, flexible and in-tune with my life.
In the 6 weeks since the cleanse, I admit that I have made a Starbucks run or two. The first time I drank a grande coffee, I felt it effects so strongly, I couldn’t drink the entire thing. I was also wired, strung out and didn’t feel like myself.
If I do go to a cafe, the wildest I get is ordering a decaf coffee or a “half caff” one that I enjoy over 2 days when I am tired or in need of some pep. I have a deep desire to stay low on my caffeine intake and am successful at that, not at being at zero caffeine intake. That goal refinement sets me up for long-term success.
Overall, I feel better consuming less caffeine every day. I find the savings in time and money an added benefit, but gone is the thrill of chasing “bonus stars” on my Starbucks app. The loss of my Starbucks Rewards points is real. For that, there is no substitute.