This feels like an achievement right up there with giving birth.
And every time I tell someone, “Oh, I’ve given up coffee. And Diet Coke,” they gasp, “WHY?”
Every morning when I see the coffeepot sitting forlornly on the counter, I kind of wonder the same thing. Our freezer smells of coffee, and sometimes in the afternoon, I’ll open a bag of Fresh Market ground beans just to inhale the aroma of the forbidden.
When I see a can of Diet Coke, I salivate. A year later, and the beautiful sound of a can opening makes me drool like Pavlov’s dog. Even if that can contains beer, I imagine the blessed taste of dark, cool Diet Coke. We watched The Thomas Crown Affair the other day, and the scene that made me pant was not the sex scene on the stairs and in the study. It was the scene in which René Russo gets a Diet Coke from the vending machine and downs the whole thing in two gulps.
In coffee shops I now order tea, but while I’m in the blessed sphere of caffeine, I savor the coffee scent so much that I almost hyperventilate in my attempt to obtain a contact coffee-high. I’d kill for a dark, rich espresso. Or a cup of Fresh Market Christmas Blend.
So why did I give them up?
Migraines and general health. This time last year I was having an average of 23 migraines a month. That’s not a life. It’s a living hell. And while caffeine can help a migraine in the acute phase, daily caffeine consumption can cause migraines when you don’t get your fix.
So I quit.
My neurologist and I have worked on a plan that’s gotten me down to an average of a blessed 9 migraines a month. It’s heaven compared to last year. (Still not fun, but it’s all relative.) Since stopping, I’ve made a lot of other dietary changes as well, but I feel like I should mention that I’ve lost (and kept off) 20 pounds. My skin is clearer than it’s ever been. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars that I would have spent on lattés.
Quitting both coffee and Diet Coke, however, is not as simple as saying, “I quit.” I’m convinced that Diet Coke still contains some form of actual coke. It’s that addictive. And coffee? Just as bad. When I’m around an aluminum can or a coffeepot, I feel like an alcoholic in a bar.
(Sidebar: all joking aside, I am absolutely NOT likening either of these to having to deal with the horrors that are alcoholism or substance abuse. Having cut two simple substances out of my life, I have more respect now than I’ve ever had for people who have gotten sober.)
In the grand tradition of addiction breaking, I offer you my personal 12-step program for quitting both coffee and Diet Coke.
- Do not go cold turkey on either drink. You are likely to feel like death and harm someone.
- Enlist your spouse’s help. This is going to be hard enough to do, but will be practically impossible if your honey is brewing up giant cups of joe in the morning or lugging home soda by the case when it’s on sale. Try to do this together, at least on the coffee front. If he’s not with you, then ask that he buy his coffee on the way to work, at least until you’re over the hump.
- Start by adulterating your coffee. Week by week, replace some of the regular with decaf, until you have a pot full of decaf.
- Give yourself time – time, as in a few months to do this, especially if you’re a several cups per morning type of person. Your body has been reliant on this stuff for a long time.
- When you hit full decaf, replace your coffee with something like Teeccino herbal coffee. It’s caffeine free, available in hazelnut, and actually tastes and smells like coffee. (You can find it at Trader Joe’s.)
- During the coffee drop-down, start turning down the volume on your Diet Coke. This all depends on how many you drink in a day. I was the kind of person who grabbed one each time I walked out the door, so I began limiting myself to one per day.
- After a while on the Teeccino, you may want to start adding in some herbal teas, or even some black teas.
- If you add in black tea, remember that it has caffeine (though considerably less than coffee). Try to limit it to a cup or so per day, or you’ll find yourself addicted to tea instead of coffee.
- Start upping your water intake, big time. Get a Camelbak or other water bottle and take it with you everywhere. You won’t believe how much water your body really wants. Soda and coffee do not hydrate. Your body is parched.
- Got your water bottle? Time to ditch that last Diet Coke. Drink your last one, and don’t buy any more. You can’t drink them if they’re not in the house.
- When you’re out, order water instead of soda. You’ll save a ton of money. And no, don’t drink rum and Coke. That counts. Try a vodka tonic or a martini or a beer instead.
- Stand back and watch your body thank you. If you’re anything like me, your headaches will improve. You may lose weight. Your skin may look clearer than it ever has.
And just think of what you can do with all that money you’ve been spending at Starbucks.
What do you think? Will you try to kick coffee to the curb? How about Diet Coke?