I’m not fully giving up coffee. I’m not never going to have one again or start giving Starbucks daggers as I walk past slurping a kale smoothie. But in the past few weeks I’ve gone from drinking 2 or 3 a day to having had one full stop. One coffee in 3 and a half weeks. For me that’s miraculous. I even ordered a decaf at my birthday brunch (I know, there’s still a tiny bit of coffee in it- it’s been hard). I was a full blown caffeine addict. I spent a fortune on cardboard cups of foamy latte everywhere I went and felt like a heap of rubbish until I inhaled my first mug of the morning.
I used to hate coffee. I can’t remember exactly when I got taken over by it but it was basically a social thing and definitely related to office work. I started off joining colleagues and slowly sampling different types, and ended up drinking and drinking and drinking.
I didn’t decide to cut it because of some diet or new approach to wellness. I have bladder issues and it undoubtedly doesn’t help, plus I found myself dehydrated and groggy in the afternoon at work every single day. And then there’s how much I was spending. I did make it myself in the office kitchen a lot, but there’s something about carrying a coffee shop drink around that makes me feel better and I don’t really understand it, but anyway. Spending the year saving meant cutting things out, and £50 a month of fancy coffees had to be one.
I’ve been on antibiotics for a couple of weeks because of a stubborn UTI, so coffee couldn’t have featured anyway. But it’s not bloody easy to kick the caffeine habit.
First came the classic headache. Every morning at about 10 it felt like a tiny little man was going to work with a hammer inside my skull and I ended up needing painkillers to get through them. Phase 1.
Then came thirst. Serious, overwhelming amounts of thirst, which considering I already drink at least 2 litres of water a day, was pretty unexpected. I also, after just a few weeks off, don’t know how I drank coffee to quench thirst. Not cool. Phase 2.
Phase 3 was, and no surprise here, horrendous mid-morning and mud-afternoon tiredness. Where I’d normally pump myself full of coffee, I had no stimulant to keep me going, which also made me realise how little carbs I eat in the day and how I need to fuel myself better. Salad and water aren’t going to help you win at life.
Once the headaches and the yawning and the feelings of ‘my head must lay down on the desk immediately’ started to ease a couple of weeks in, I suddenly became aware of how good it felt to be fuelled by water. I’ve always drank loads but maybe the caffeine was knocking my hydration back down. Being properly hydrated has stopped my eyes from blurring, my brain is fogging over less and I think it’s helping alleviate the fatigue that renders me basically as useful as tree trunk in the early evenings. A pretty happy phase 4.
I’ve also, although it’s been easier because I drank it a lot less, kicked tea out of bed.
But this weekend I did have a coffee. I was out with my mum and we went to Cafe Nero and I had my only latte in nearly a month. I then spent a jittery 15 minutes looking at sports bras and feeling very wired.
I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long at cutting out something I love, but I actually don’t want it back, definitely not daily anyway.