“It’s Saturday morning, it’s twenty degrees. I quit drinking coffee and I’m tired of tea.”
I never drank coffee. Then I moved to Asheville and got a job at a gourmet coffee roaster. Every morning, I was there at 6am. In the dark of dawn on the porch of that hip little Tudor-style house-turned-cafe, I invented some coffee drinks that could wake the dead. Between the Ghirardelli chocolate shavings, whipped cream selections, espresso varieties, and the industrial sized cappuccino machine, it’s a wonder I didn’t blow something up. Needless to say, I got addicted. Big time.
I’ve since had to give up the coffee habit. I’ve gone through periods of time where I’ve had none, and periods of time where I’ve had tons. Sometimes it’s been easy to quit. Sometimes it’s been awful. I do know that I’m much better off when I don’t drink it.
Here are seven steps that I’ve come up with after exhaustive research, using my own self as the guinea pig. If you’re thinking of quitting the habit, you might find these helpful.
Step #1 – Want to.
Decide that you want to give up coffee.
My friend Suzi made a resolution to Give Up Giving Up Coffee. She’s over it. She doesn’t want to give up coffee anymore, and she’s sick of trying. She gets a gold star for her clarity on the issue.
Some people kinda sorta feel like they should give up coffee. Then they wing it, and they make it til about 3pm on that first day when the headache becomes unbearable, and the voice in their head sounds like Springsteen singing Thunder Road on their old Walkman when the batteries were dying. So they end up at the Starbucks counter yelling “Venti Me!” and then claim that giving up coffee is impossible.
You don’t have to have a burning desire. You don’t have to be all Tony Robbins about it. You just have to want to do this.
As Bob says in my song Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad “Choose.”
Step #2 – Define Your own Reasons Why You’re Giving Up Coffee
Everyone from Suze Orman to the Dalai Lama, from self-help bloggers to the cast of The Secret will give you reasons why you should or should not do something.
However, when you get personal and get clear about your own choice to make changes in your life, you’ll find that the results are more powerful and enduring. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve chosen to do lots of things just because someone else said I should. It’s amazing how often I haven’t consulted myself in the decision making process!
There’s a gajillion health reasons for giving up coffee. My acupuncturist talks about it in terms of ultimately draining your chi, or energy.
The author of one of my favorite health books, The Tao of Healthy Eating says, “I believe coffee has no place in the diet of those hoping to be healthy.” And, “Women especially do well to avoid coffee.” The explanation is detailed and convincing.
The most common reasons I’ve heard are that coffee stresses your adrenals and ultimately weakens your system, and that coffee weakens your kidneys.
And a million people will jump up and say that’s hogwash. And a million others will have different reasons why coffee is harmful. And then a million others will get self-righteous and tell you not to tell them what to do.
This is why it’s important to have your own quiet non-self-righteous reasons for giving up coffee.
Though I believe in the kidney/adrenal/chi arguments, those ideas weren’t compelling enough for me in the face of something so delightfully addictive. I needed to recognize and validate why giving up coffee was important for me in my daily life. I’m going to give you a few my reasons for giving up coffee because you may see yourself in some of these examples:
Reason #1 for Me Giving Up Coffee: The woman whispering Hurry.
(It’s like Goodnight Moon gone awry.)
There’s this fairly hysterical woman in my head. Her hair is long and string-y and she is absolutely outrageously neurotic. When I drink coffee, she comes to life. And her entire reason for existing is to lean over my shoulder and whisper, “Hurry,” into my ear. That’s all she says all day long. “Hurry.” It makes my heart pound and my pulse race. “Hurry.” I don’t know what I’m hurrying to do, but it’s clear that she has good reasons for me to hurry. “Hurry!” And when I can’t stop my head because I’ve had coffee, she programs my entire day. The woman whispering Hurry becomes my manager.
Reason #2 for Me Giving Up Coffee: My brain splatters when I drink coffee.
I become a to-do machine. My focus and my thinking are splattered. I’m doing and not knowing why I’m doing, and I can’t stop to think about why. I’m just being productive. At what, I can’t tell you. If you’re a Stephen Covey fan, let me put it in Seven Habits terms: I cease to think about things that are important, and instead look for the things that are urgent. I check email way too much. I go from task to task without a feeling of completion. Too many days of this, and nothing feels done. So I end up with a low-grade level of anxiety.
Reason #3 for Me Giving Up Coffee: By about 3pm, I’m a complete bitch.
I’m ruffled. I’ve been hurrying. I don’t have a sense of priorities. And I just get bitchy easier. I’m an impatient driver. I’m less likely to be present in my relationships. I forget to enjoy the moment and my life.
Reasons #4 and #5 for Me Giving Up Coffee: Sugar & Cream
The only way I like coffee is with sugar and cream. It’s comfort food. Sugar is probably more addicting than coffee. (Click here to read more on sugar.) And it dawned on me that I was starting my day with 1 – 3 teaspoons of sugar. That’s a lot. I started using Stevia. (A natural herbal sweetener. No chemicals.) It was mighty hard to get used to, but after a while I did it. But it’s still too tempting to just dump sugar in a cup if I’m making coffee. And I found myself cheating here and there. So I decided it was best to just give up the whole thing.
Cream is another issue. After listening to the book The Way We Eat, I’m considering a vegan diet. For about 10 years, I’ve limited my dairy intake to only organic. (Of course, this is impossible on the road and at Starbucks.) Even so, many Western doctors, including Christiane Northrup recommend that women eliminate dairy from their diets for help with menstrual and breast symptoms.
If you’ve watched yourself throughout the day, then you know whether or not coffee is a good choice for you. My acupuncturist maintains that one cup in the morning is fine. (Then I remind him of the giant 24-ounce sized pottery mugs my friend Kathy has made for me.) Clearly for me, the subtle and not so subtle changes it brings about in me don’t help me much.
Part 2 will continue this alluring discussion!
(Most of the books I mention in my blogs are available in audio format at audible.com. Click on the link in the sidebar to visit audible. I absolutely love it.)
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