21 days ago, I embarked on a seemingly impossible journey: stop drinking coffee. It wasn’t that I was dependent upon coffee to function: It was that I reveled in its delicate aroma, melted into the warm mug as it nestled between my hands, and enjoyed the social nature of the beverage. I’m also not great with self control, which sometimes makes it difficult for me to commit to self-professed “fasts” or “cleanses.” Put together, I was nervous about the quality of my days sans coffee.
In my last article, I noted the immediate effects of life without java: improved sleep, increased facial oil and acne, and less anxiety, among other changes. I also tried to replace the morning drink with different herbal and slightly caffeinated teas, like peppermint and oolong. Overall, my body was in the initial stages of detox, and I was experiencing a slew of common side effects, both positive and negative.
Now that some time has passed, how am I feeling? In a word, great! I would liken my physical state to someone with congestion who has just used a humidifier for the first time. Everything feels much clearer, and the “heaviness” I once felt is all but gone. My skin’s oiliness reduced and became clear. Most importantly, I don’t crave coffee anymore. No big surprise here: reducing intake of an addictive substance (yes, caffeine is definitely a “substance”) is the best way to control cravings for it. According to Annemarie Colbin, author of Food and Healing, you can also diminish coffee cravings by eating more vegetables, and less sugar, flour, and grains. Also, coffee (and tea) inhibits iron absorption from plant sources, so cutting out the joe and eating more leafy greens can only add to high energy.
Still, my coffee cravings were much more psychological than physical. Dissociating coffee from a cozy, relaxing, rewarding ritual–aided by a vegan pastry–was the key. Rather than using tea as a direct replacement for coffee, I’ve taken to enjoying it only once in a while, sans baked goods. For me, it was important to completely extricate myself from a morning beverage of choice. Instead, I’ve been hydrating on tons of water throughout the day, and it feels good.
Now that I’ve spent some time away from coffee, what is my plan for the future? Though I still love the stuff and recognize its numerous benefits, I’d rather make coffee a treat rather than an everyday indulgence. Coffee date? Sign me up. Lunch meeting at the corner cafe? One almond milk latte, please. But a run to Starbucks each morning before work? I’ll pass, and I’m certain my wallet will thank me. In addition to saving money, maintaining a clear complexion, and reducing anxiety, deciding to live without coffee has shown me the value of listening to my body. As someone who has a rather contentious relationship with her physical person, this experience was a valuable lesson in listening–really listening–to the whispers and subtleties about what works for me. And that’s worth celebrating.
Also see: 5 Best Caffeine Free Beauty Teas
Photo: www.Ilovecoffee.com via Flickr