Yes, I confess I have OCD... Obsessive Coffee Disorder.
My love for good coffee goes beyond words. It's not just because of the much needed caffeine, it's the ritual, the smell and childhood memories attached to it. I started to drink coffee when I was 15, when I used to stay up late and wake up early to study for Ancient Greek and Latin tests (I still wonder how I ended up reading Business and Finance at University). More recently, it has helped me through the day after a sleepless night with a hungry newborn.
Coffee is not just a drink. It's a loyal 'friend' that has always been around when I needed it. My favorite is espresso, the true Italian expression of coffee. If I'm in a coffee shop or restaurant, I'll order a macchiato (= an espresso with a little foam of milk on top). Cutting out coffee from my life poses a real challenge, even for just a couple of days, and never mind a week.
So why on earth would I or a fellow coffee drinker do it?
Firstly, I wanted to test my willpower. I've been denying the fact that I have an unhealthy relationship with coffee and I feel this 'addiction' just had to end. Like in all relationships, a little distance can be good for the heart.
Secondly, my skin has started to break out as if I was a teenager again. I know the pregnancy and post-partum glow had to end at some point, but I wasn't expecting an acne explosion. My diet hasn't changed, I don't wear makeup - gone are those days - but I have slightly increased the number of espressos. Coffee would appear to be the culprit.
Last but not least, I wanted to experiment more around other drinks and foods that could really help me fill the caffeine gap: can coffee be substituted? You're about to find out.
The mornings are hard to face
The hardest coffee to let go is the first of the day. I still wake up at least once at night to nurse Grace and often my sleep ends at 5.30am. In these circumstances, it's even harder to say 'no' to that first cup of black gold. I've found that a good breakfast with additional carbohydrates helps to boost my energy: an extra half of a banana in my granola does the job. A bigger breakfast seems to keep me going for a few hours longer.
The mid-morning slump
Mornings are hectic: my hubs gets ready for work, Grace is full of energy and I tidy our home and go grocery shopping. When finally I have time for myself after putting my baby down for her nap, tiredness punches me right in the face. All the adrenaline has gone and I'm left zombie-like from 10am until lunch. Usually this is the time I make my second espresso. However, in the past few days, I have found two cups of green tea can help: either the small(er) amount of caffeine or the hydration takes the edge off the tiredness. Another drink that I love when I run of out energy is ginseng. Just the smell of it awakes every single cell of my brain. It's not a coincidence that it's considered a tonic, and is used by athletes to help with physical and mental endurance.
The power of a power nap
Coffee, like any other caffeinated or 'super power' drink, is a stimulant that forces your body to be in an alerted state when it may really need to rest. After a 30-minute nap, I honestly feel so refreshed, mentally focused and in such a better mood. No matter how much I love coffee and the satisfaction in drinking it, it never makes me feel more rested.
A dark and sweet lunch
I usually drink my third coffee after lunch. It's such an Italian thing to end a meal with an espresso and this little custom is imprinted in my DNA. A few little squares of 80%+ dark chocolate can act as a healthy substitute.
Fermented fizzy drinks are the new champagne
When I go out and meet people in a coffee shop or am out at the park in the afternoon, I really find it hard to hold back on the coffee, or even swap it for a cup of tea. Kombucha, however, has been a revelation for me! Kombucha is the Japanese word for 'tea made of kombu', which is an edible algae commonly used in the Japanese cuisine. The seaweed is fermented and then made into tea. Originally, drunk hot, the Americans have westernized it by adding fruity flavors and by refrigerating it. A colorful, tasty and probiotic drink like kombucha has been a perfect substitute. Plus, the fizziness reminds me of sparkling wine...so, bring it on!
To wrap it up...
Although the first couple of mornings were really hard and I had all sort of withdrawal symptoms, headache and an unreasonable tiredness, they're behind me and I am happy I have done it. My coffee addiction has been tamed, my forehead looks less bumpy and less shiny and my energy levels have improved. Not only that, but I am a lot calmer, less neurotic in the car, and less anxious in general. Do I get everything done during the day? Maybe not, but I cook better dinners, spend more time with my daughter and I am a lot smilier. The truth is that this coffee detox has slowed me down and I've benefited from it a lot.
I highly recommend that now and again you choose to take a break from a food or drink you heavily depend upon. Even if that was kale. Not only will it open up opportunities to experiment with alternatives, but you will improve your ability to take it or leave it.
I am back to drinking coffee: I only need one to keep me up and running all day. If I really need a boost, I opt for green tea and a piece of chocolate. It's likely that some day I'll be back drinking coffee more heavily, but having experienced the positive side effects of cutting back, it has made me more confident that I'll be able to control the cravings in the future
So, guys, what can I say?...Experiment with breaking your obsessive disorder, and let me know how you get on.