I love coffee.
I especially love the frothy coffee you can buy that is lovingly crafted by beaming baristas. I even love the chuck-it-in-and-stir-for-instant-frothy-coffee-goodness sort of coffee. Coffee helps me wake up in the morning. It helps me through a day of dragging teenagers through poetry, non-fiction, and Shakespeare. Coffee is my reward at the end of a long day when it’s just me and my music and my marking in my classroom.
Let me ask you a question: would you drink three cups of hot chocolate in one go?
Of course not!
Well, imagine my horror when I compared the calorie, sugar, and fat content of one of my beloved instant-frothy-coffees to a sachet of rather scrummy instant hot chocolate and realised that, on a bad day, I was drinking the equivalent of NINE cups of hot chocolate! No wonder my weight loss bid was going nowhere fast, despite crunching lots of calorie-burning celery.
I made the decision, almost there and then, to give up coffee for Lent. Not just the frothy coffees that I would drink once a day but all caffeinated coffee. I thought it would be a challenge that was suitable for Lent but not outside my personal limits of capability. After all, I’d given up the sugary energy drinks that supplemented my coffee habit for Lent the year before and I haven’t drunk one since.
Life After Coffee
Ash Wednesday fell during the February half term this year, which was just as well considering what happened next. For two days I was plagued with horrendous deblitating headaches. I couldn’t figure it out – I never get headaches – what was going on?
On Friday I visited my mother and grandmother and it was my grandmother, surprisingly enough, who got the penny to drop:
“You’ve gone cold turkey,” she said. “You’re in withdrawal.”
Once I’d got over the initial shock of Grandma knowing such phrases as “cold turkey” and “withdrawal”, I realised that she was probably right. The only time I didn’t have caffeine in my system was when I was asleep and suddenly I had none at all. Wowsers!
The headaches thankfully passed by the Friday afternoon but before that, something else awful had occurred. My ability to function as a normal, coherent, lucid human being had apparently buggered off and left me.
“Have you seen the crisps I bought you for your packed lunch?” I called up the stairs to my husband at 6am on Friday morning as I frantically hunted around for the missing item in the cupboards, fridge and oven.
“Nope!” he called back. “I haven’t seen them since you tidied them.”
That was not a good sign. My tidying can often lead to the loss of items which then eventually reappear somewhere totally bizarre anything up to six months after we no longer need them. I stood, hands on hips, wearily scanning the kitchen for some sort of clue, when my eyes came to rest on one object and the terrible realisation dawned.
I’d tidied them into the bin.
It’s now 10 days since Lent started and I thought I was out of the woods but apparently not. Yesterday I misfuelled my diesel car and ended up 2hrs late for work as I had to be rescued by the “Fuel Contamination Specialists”. I haven’t had a petrol car for nearly 6 months but somehow managed to put 11 litres of unleaded into my brand new and financed car before I realised what was happening. There I was, at the front pump, bemused and somewhat grumpy morning drivers behind me, desperately trying to get through to break down cover and get help.
“We’ll send assistance straight away, madam. They’ll an to get there in an hour.”
Drivers are now glaring ferociously at me as they force their cars up onto the grass verge so that they can get round me and on their way to work. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole.
Let there be light at the end of the tunnel
Thankfully, nothing’s gone horribly wrong today. In fact, a whole lot has gone right. I stepped on the scales to discover that a week of abstinence from any form of caffienated coffee has resulted in a loss of 1.5lbs. In addition, my skin looks fantastic and I was able to cross a “miracle pore eraser” off my shopping list without putting it into the basket. I’m also sleeping much better too – I just wish it wasn’t so hard to wake up in the mornings.
11 days down, 29 to go!