Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Can Quit Anytime

And I did.

Health-conscious as I am, I'll admit to my share of vices. Namely dark chocolate, red wine... and coffee.

Which, as far as vices go, I will happily defend and point to many studies conducted by real scientists that suggest there may be real health benefits associated with these products. For example, women coffee-drinkers are less likely to suffer from depression. Reason enough to brew a big pot of the stuff.

Overwhelmed with three small children at home - each with his own challenges, an always-messy house, and an unrealistic and insurmountable daily To-Do list, I began drinking coffee in earnest after Little was born. I needed it to keep both my spirits and my energy up.

There was a joke among my La Leche League friends about the time we were at the International Convention in D.C. and he was about 18 months old. The luncheon speaker was a researcher presenting his study on how breastfeeding doesn't only provide nutrition, it provides information. Baby animals know what plants are safe to eat because they have been exposed to the taste in their mothers' milk. What our babies experience in our milk, they go on to prefer once they are feeding themselves, he was saying... just as my baby, who was sitting on my lap at the table, reached across for my coffee cup and helped himself.

My secret was out.

But everyone at the table understood because they were just as coffee-centered as I was. Tired, overwhelmed, trying to get through the day as cheerfully and clear-headedly as possible, we were all self-medicating with the Almighty Bean. And that was okay.

Here at home, coffee was a major part of my social life. "Stop by for coffee." "A group of us are getting together for coffee." "Let's go out for coffee." I have a lovely collection of oversized mugs and insulated travel mugs. I kept extra travel mugs around so I could send one along with any friend who stopped by on her way to run errands. A lattè from Starbucks was a thoughtful gesture, a peace offering, a token of gratitude, a hug in a cup.

My personal checks are decorated with various coffee images, and a whole corner of my kitchen has been devoted to this important part of my life. A grinder, a Mr. Coffee coffeepot, a stack of filters for the coffeepot, a French Press, a plug-in teakettle to boil the water for the French Press, bottles of vanilla and almond syrups, and bags and containers of Starbucks and other specialty blends of coffee beans fill the space between the knives and the stand mixer. All of this needed to be out and within reach because in the winter, at 6:40 a.m. when I'm seeing the Teen off to school, it's dark and I really don't prefer to open my eyes completely until after my first cup, let alone dig through the pantry looking for the filters.

Every day started with coffee. No matter what. Once, the men and I went camping for a weekend and I decided I'd leave the coffee at home and do a weekend detox. By Saturday afternoon, my head was pounding, I was snapping at everyone, I couldn't think straight. I headed for the nearest grocery store and bought some instant. When I got back, I loaded my pantry, car, and camping bins with enough Starbucks Via that I would never be caught off-guard again.

I clearly needed this, and there was no reason to deny myself. Ever again.

So, up until this week, every morning, I've made or purchased a large cup of coffee to start my day.

Also, every morning for something like the last 2 years, I've wondered if I have IBS. Just a little nagging thought, and occasionally an inkling that it might be a more serious problem. I didn't say anything about it at my last checkup, and all other indicators pointed to an extremely healthy body, so I pushed these thoughts aside.

But in a recent conversation with a good friend who also happens to be a doctor, we were discussing similar digestive issues, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, etc. and I mentioned my own small concern.

"Maybe it's the coffee."

Just what I didn't want to hear. Just the reason I didn't mention this to my own doctor. I need my coffee. Sigh...

Hearing it from her did make me a little curious, however. Not curious enough to get a headache like that one at the campground, but curious. And besides, feeling that dependent on anyone or anything begins to create a little bit of resentment after a while.

I don't need you, I began to say, glaring at my cup. I can quit you anytime I want. You'll see.

The cup of brown liquid silently mocked me in return.

I limited myself to unsweetened iced tea for a day, just for kicks. Something I already like and drink. I just skipped the coffee this time.

And just like that, I'm better. And I didn't have a headache. Nor was I tired, foggy or crabby like I had been when I wasn't exercising enough last week. I felt, and continue to feel, just fine.

I think it's been three days now. There's a Mr. Coffee iced tea machine on my countertop between the mixer and the knives. I'm putting all the coffee paraphernalia away. At least for now.

Of all the habits I've broken, thought and behavior patterns I've changed, and things I've let go this last year, I thought this would be one of the hardest - and it turned out to be effortless. I don't even miss it.

Sometimes I surprise myself like that.


1 comment:

Lisa Foer said...

I'm still lovin' my cup of Joe.