Life without Coffee
If you ever catch yourself in the Integrative Learning Center (ILC) between classes, you know of the horrendous line at Peet’s Coffee & Tea. It is a line filled with desolate and vacant coffee fiends all awaiting their fix. Caffeine can be both magical and dangerous if used in excess, trust me, I speak from experience. The extremely addictive beverage has plenty of benefits, including my own pleasant disposition, but it also has a few cons against it.
In addition to leaving a slight discoloration on one’s teeth, coffee can also negatively impact the digestive tract. Have you ever felt an uncomfortable cramping that dissipates after a couple of hours? Without even taking into account the excessive amounts of cream and sugar some people add, the acidity of coffee can cause bowel discomfort. Is the quick surge of energy worth the pain and stain?
It might seem like conquering the seemingly insurmountable, but cutting out coffee from your diet is not as hard as you may think.
I won’t lie, the first few days of my purge were not pretty. Many people came up to me with everyone’s favorite line of concern, “Wow, you look really exhausted.” If you are referring to the dark bags under my eyes, the slouch in my posture or my lack of eagerness to participate, the statement is almost always taken negatively. You might as well be saying, “wow, you look terrible today,” and as a person who had not had their daily pick-me-up, I found it hard for my response to lack sarcasm. After a few days of drifting off in my morning lectures, I gathered up the determination to find a substitute for coffee. I thought nothing would be able to fill the void in my life but I was wrong.
My Camelbak saved me. UMass installed water filtering stations in all the residence halls and most of the new buildings around campus sometime last year and the surplus of cold water is something that always helps me stay awake. Sometimes I’ll set goals for myself like finishing my water before the end of class or challenging myself to drink my eight glasses a day.
Unlike coffee, drinking water only provides benefits. I noticed my skin began to clear up, I was more focused, I felt less tired and I had an excuse to run to the bathroom every 40 minutes. Studies show that drinking a glass of water in the morning will kick start your metabolism and your brain without the later crash – something I barely mottled through before.
On cold mornings I had no desire to drink a cold glass of water to start my day. I missed my warm cup of coffee. So instead, on these days I opted for a cup of hot water with some lemon, a beverage that is known for boosting your immune system, aiding in digestion and uplifting your mood.
One of my favorite benefits of this drink is it is completely free. Coffee prices – not accounting for lattes, cappuccinos, chai or other exorbitantly luxurious and overpriced beverages at cafes – are increasing every year due to high demand, but water is still free. The lemon adds a nice flavor while also increasing the Vitamin C quotient.
Some people absolutely despise water, although it is a necessary component in brewing their trusty coffee. I’ll admit, drinking water without the sweet aroma of the coffee bean can be a challenge for the taste buds and morning enthusiasm. And if water is truly not your thing and you’re still craving a caffeinated substance, it may be best to try a warm mug of tea. Prepare to be overwhelmed by the gentler world of teas – both caffeinated and herbal.
Starting with the basics, black tea has the most caffeine. Following this is oolong tea and then green tea. After deciding which caffeine level you need, you may begin to fully dive into the sea of tea flavors, paraphernalia and ornate steeping experiences. (Check out the “manatee” infusers for loose leaf tea.)
I entered into this diet with dread, thinking nothing could possibly save me in the morning besides the perfectly aromatic sensation of coffee. However, the experience turned into a delightful and beneficial surprise. I no longer need to use coffee as a crutch because I know there are other beverages that can help me get through the day with a smile on my face.
I still love coffee, as should we all, but if you are worried about staining your teeth, the midday energy crash, the uncontrollable jitters or even the price, fear not because there are alternatives for you.
Hudson Smith can be reached at email@example.com.