Edgy and fidgeting. A little owly at times. A stomachache that would not subside.

Those were my conditions before I stopped drinking coffee a month ago. I had tried this once before as part of a food fast, one that also lasted 30 days. At that time, I was fasting as a way to make some important life decisions. Cutting out coffee was the hardest part, and it led to some serious migraine headaches. Then I started drinking the stuff again.

This time? It's more of a health issue. I've been seriously addicted to coffee for at least 20 years, and my normal routine is to drink at least 6-8 cups per day.

I like thick, black, dark coffee--the kind that can spring your synapses into submission but also the kind that wreaks havoc on your innards. Since quitting on May 1, I've found that I have more energy in the morning, not less. I've also found that losing this peculiar social connection has been difficult but not impossible, and I've stayed firmly in the brotherhood by switching to tea. (Shh, no one has to know.)

Another reason I stopped drinking coffee was to find out once and for all whether I could really stick with my plan. In January, I abstained for a month but I knew I would go back to my favorite drink, so it wasn't really fair. This time, I have no set plans to start up again, so in some ways it's even harder and requires more dedication and perseverance.

Still, I'm already seeing several benefits.

One of them: Now that I've started biking more often, I jump on and wake myself up by pedaling. I don't rely on caffeine, which is a false sense of alertness anyway. Once I'm done on the bike, I'm always fully awake and ready for work. During the entire day, I feel a bit more energetic without a caffeine-induced high, and when I finally get tired at the end of the day, it seems like my body is just deciding to shut down on its own.

I will also add that my budget has opened up a little. OK, not by a lot--maybe $40 per month. Yet, that can buy a lot of bagels and omelettes  in a month. I've switched my mindset from buying expensive dark roast coffees to treating myself to a nice breakfast on occasion, and all the while living with a bit more of a healthy outlook during the day.

I'm also sleeping much better. I used to drink coffee all day, and I'm sure the caffeine was staying in my system all the way up until the late evening, I'm now more likely to lay down at night and fall asleep immediately. It's startled my wife a bit how quickly I doze off.

Next up on my healthy diet plan: I'm going to cut out almost all sweets during the day. The theme here if you haven't noticed is to avoid false stimulants, the kind that give me an energy boost for a while but then cause me to come crashing down later. I'm working a little faster these days and a little more efficiently, completing more tasks in a normal day. I'm more aware of how my own energy either increases or depletes on its own.

It's a fun exercise, one that I don't plan to give up anytime soon.

I do miss the smell of coffee, and I have to say tea is not quite the same as far as taste and the social perks. Yet, so far, and at least for me, the benefits of going without coffee outweigh any of the detriments.

Published on: Jun 11, 2018