On Giving Up Coffee, and Taking It Up Again

April 11, 2012

Image from jessicaNdesign’s Etsy shop. And now I need these spoons.

So I gave up coffee for Lent, and it was beyond difficult, and now I’m drinking it again, and things are again fantastic. That is the short version. Now for the full story:

I used to hate coffee. I thought it was too bitter and I just couldn’t get it down. I didn’t really have a need for extra caffeine for a long time, and I was proud of that. Water and good sleeping habits saw me through.

Then I became a nurse. My shift began at 6:45 a.m. and I was having to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to get there on time. I still drank lots of water and went to bed super early, but even though I was a morning person, I wasn’t THAT much of a morning person. The main thing that caused me to seek “help” was the fact that I was routinely falling asleep while driving to work, followed by a complete lack of energy for the first half of my shift.

It was my dad who encouraged me to try coffee. I continued to refuse, because ew, until things got desperate. I started with the free stuff they had at work, dumping in the cream and sugar. I forced it down and noticed an immediate effect. It was magical!

Over time I branched out. The first step was to get my own brewer at home so I could have my cup when I first woke up. I discovered that the free stuff at work was actually crap. At this point I still didn’t like coffee, but I didn’t hate it either. It was tolerable. But I kept drinking it, and after awhile I noticed that I looked forward to it. Sometimes the thought of it was enough to get me out of bed in the morning, or even into bed at night.

By the time I graduated to French Press I was a full-blown coffee lover. I had the equivalent of two cups every morning and then I was good to go for the rest of the day. This is how it went until I got pregnant, when I somehow managed to quit (or only have an occasional cup) until my third trimester when I took it up again. I don’t even remember how I got through that, but probably it had something to do with the fact that my stomach was very sensitive and coffee irritated it more, along with the motivating factor of the health of my baby.

This year I decided to give up coffee for Lent out of solidarity with my husband, who was giving up sodas. I did no weaning beforehand, and the first few days were seriously miserable. Pounding headaches, sleepy all the time, no energy, and just an all around feeling of hopelessness. I had obsessive thoughts about it – I’m not exaggerating. I took Excedrin, then had to wean off that. I found out just how dependent on the substance I had become.

I drank coffee on Sundays because it’s the traditional feast day during Lent, and every Monday I had to “come off” it again. By the end of the 40 days I had gotten somewhat used to the lack of caffeine – no more headaches, not quite as tired, feeling more like my normal self – but I never once told myself that I was giving it up for good.

Yeah, I don’t really like being so dependent on something, and I’m sure I might be a little bit “healthier” without coffee, but I don’t think it’s really that bad for me and I know for SURE that I am a better person when I drink it. This week I have had so much energy! I am going above and beyond at work again. I’m way more on top of things which I believe is safer and nicer for my patients. Then when I come home I still have energy to devote to my family. I am happier, more optimistic, and more productive.

I fully admit that I am addicted to coffee. But you know what? I don’t care. It’s worth it.

Posted in: personal, me

Comments on On Giving Up Coffee, and Taking It Up Again

  1. 1

    From Michelle:

    I have always loved coffee, always.

    And then I became a barista and suddenly the world of coffee changed from folgers to ALL THE OTHER OPTIONS out there, and it became my “thing”. Some people like wine, and like knowing about all kinds of wine and what flavors are best with what kind of food etc. But that is me with coffee.

    I chose not to drink coffee while pregnant (while working at Starbucks!), and didn’t really even think it was that difficult, but now? I NEED coffee. I am a better mother with my coffee.

    Good for you for giving it up for Lent, but rejoice in the return. Yum.

  2. 2

    From San:

    I used to hate coffee. I liked the smell, but the taste disgusted me. I didn’t touch coffee until I was 25, when I tried it out of curiosity again with creamer/milk and sugar. I really came to the conclusion fast that the right brew with the right amount of milk/creamer (about a 60:40 ratio) is DELICIOUS! Coffee has become my comfort drink.
    I don’t believe that the caffeine really is why I drink coffee (because it doesn’t really effect me that much and I can drink coffee in the evening and still go to bed an hour later), but I am grumpy when I don’t get my coffee in the morning, because it’s a comfort for me, a luxury if you will.

    Since with all the milk (1%) and splash of creamer that I take my coffee with, I am maybe drinking 2 full cups a day, I don’t think it’s really that bad and I totally understand that you don’t care about the ” addiction” as there are far worse things to be addicted to!


  3. 3

    From Becca:

    I’m impressed you made it. Not because I doubt your abilities but only because I’m pretty sure I would fail. (I totally need a savior!)

    So, as I doubted my abilities to ever abstain from coffee, it strikes me as quite funny that in closing out this pregnancy I have largely given it up. I only have 2-3 servings a week and never first thing in the morning. (I’m sure that will change with a newborn!) my personal problem with coffee is that it will be the only thing I drink causing me to become very dehydrated, Not so great for pregnancy and nursing. So, I am giving myself permission to drink coffee as long as I drink enough water!

    I do love coffee though. Strongly brewed, French press, cafe mocha, iced mocha, and plain iced coffee. Mmmmmm

  4. 4

    From Mindy:

    Wow, I so relate to this post. It’s always been more of a social drink for me (“meetcha at Starbucks”), but lately I’ve been relishing it in the mornings and evenings sometimes, as you say… I gave it up recently for awhile to help my baby sleep (before I switched to formula) and it was sooo hard… I felt weird craving it so badly, but I seriously obsessed over it too! And not just the coffee, but what kind of creamer I was going to use… oh man. Creme brulee creamer is the BEST. But anyway–now with kids, it’s kind of a must if I want to be productive. I love the above post: “I’m a better mother with coffee.” SO TRUE! So yay coffee! Antioxidants, right? ;)

  5. 5

    From Erin @ The Speckled Palate:

    I was like you in the fact that I really didn’t like coffee for a long time. And then I went to Italy and decided while I was there that it was high-time to get over my coffee-aversion and get into the cappuccino scene. … Needless to say, I’ve been a fan ever since.

    Good for you for staying strong during Lent, and good for you now that you can drink it again. I’d have a hard time giving it up, too, and I think I get a lot more work done when I do drink it. :)

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