Cutting Out Caffeine

Coffee love

I Love Coffee. Yum!

I love coffee. I mean I LOVE coffee. Really. Beginning my freshman year of high school I have been a die-hard fan and total addict to the Goddess of Caffeine.

The smell.

The warmth in your hand as you clutch the cup.

The rich, strong flavour of a cup of strong black coffee. Mmm….

And yet…

I know that it’s not the best thing for me. Oh sure there are reports and studies that say caffeine is good for you. And there are studies and reports that say caffeine is bad for you. Either way, it’s time to break the chains of addiction once and for all.

I’ve become, over the years, a slave to addiction. I got to the point where I was making my coffee really strong, drinking it black, an average of two full pots per day. I was using coffee (and have been for 20 years) as a substitute for food, water, nutrition. It was nothing for me to be awake for the first 10-12 hours of my day existing on nothing but cup after cup of strong black coffee. I’d eat my first (and often only) meal of the day at supper time with the kids. My body has been in a constant state of famine as a result and I don’t eat much and when I do it’s not usually anything healthy.

Oh and you don’t want to be the man, woman, child or cat that stood between me and my and coffee. Trust me on that. Hell hath no fury like a woman who’s not had her coffee! Except…

Well, I’m the one coming between me and my beloved coffee. Once and for all.

So how does a twenty year, two pot a day, “jet fuel” strong coffee addict let go? Slowly. Carefully. And with a plan.

I can’t do the “cut out a cup a day” sort of thing. When you drink 2 pots a day you never really pay attention to how many cups you drink… just whether your cup is empty or full.  So here you have it…

Merlene’s Caffeine Addiction Solution:

  1. Start gradually cutting back your “allowed” hours for caffeine. Today maybe say.. No caffeine after 8pm. Tomorrow will be … No caffeine after 7pm. And so on. Get it so that you stop your caffeine intake one hour earlier each day until you are within 2 hours of your usual first cup of coffee. Once you’ve reached your quitting hour switch to water for the rest of the day. Every time you have an urge to pour yourself a coffee (or a Coke or whatever caffeine beverage is your downfall) replace it with a glass of water.
  2. Now you can take note of how many cups of coffee you have your first hour or two of the day. At this point you are going to cut back half a cup a day.  Until you reach the half cup per day point.
  3. If you’re anything like me… that “cup” you’re drinking from is HUGE. Now you’re going to move to a smaller cup. And half a cup of that.
  4. The next day you should finally just quit once and for all. If you think you need one more day  fine… but you’re at 1/4 cup today. That’s 1/4 of the small cup, kiddo… not the huge mug you’ve been used to.
  5. That’s it. You’re done with daily coffee. With daily caffeine.

Once you’ve been caffeine free for a week or two you can start having it again in very limited quantities. Consider it a reward. Have a cappuccino with friends on the weekend once in a while. Have an espresso and biscotti after Sunday brunch. Just don’t’ fall back into those old habits of daily caffeine. Keep substituting water for you daily caffeine and you’ll be healthier and happier in the long run.

And don’t ever suggest I switch to decaf. I might have to stab you in the throat with a stir stick. Just kidding. Sorta.
(Up until last week I was averaging a can of ground coffee or a pound of coffee beans per week. This is also a frugal post – I’m going to save at least $20/month on coffee and filters!)

Image “Love Latte” via Flickr