Regular visitors of this blog probably knew about my love for tea. I even wrote a few posts that include teas, teas and more teas. What people probably don't know is how I used to be a coffee addict instead of tea. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved tea but I was a religious coffee drinker back then. It was only this year that I started to cut down my coffee consumption and decide to drink tea instead, a decision that has helped and improved my functionality in life.
Here's a short recap of how addicted I was with coffee
I used to drink Starbucks almost everyday. Every. Day. Can you believe that? I might even needed the 'Starbucks white girl' hashtag, no joke. My favorite drinks to order were caffe latte, caffe misto, caramel macchiato and cappuccino all in venti size. There were never frappuccinos because I restricted myself from drinking the crazy sugary ones. There were two reasons why I did not touch the blended frappuccinos: one, I grew tired of how sickly sweet and insanely diabetic they are and two, I was struggling and restricting myself from enjoying food due to weight and body image issues, another story for another time.
I remember how the Starbucks barista in this particular mall across my university greeted me and asked, "what will it be today? Caffe misto or latte?" every time they saw me entering. I went to Starbucks that often to the point where I wouldn't order anything other than those four. I'm not saying I should have ordered frappuccinos but the four drinks of my choice are kind of strong in terms of caffeine content. Other than the Starbucks infamous Caramel Macchiato, the other three are basically brewed coffee + milk so there are no syrup or sugar involved. I personally never add additional white or brown sugar to my drink (even now) but I would sometimes get an extra shot of espresso. Imagine how caffeinated (and sourly bitter) that was.
I may not remember when I started getting addicted to coffee but I remember why. It's the rush of energy, the burning adrenaline and feeling pumped up that makes me want to drink more. I remember the stronger my coffee, the quicker I was into finding new ideas for my project (I was a graphics design student — now a graduate — and creative ideas are everything.)
Why coffee is bad for me
Long story short, I was so addicted I decided to ignore the side effects and discomforts that came along. I'm not sure why I've always ignored them. I probably thought since they are not permanent then they are worth it.
No, they're not. And here's why:
I would get jitters alongside that rush of adrenaline and abundant pumped up energy. I'd find myself shaking my knees and feeling restless. Even though my brain would come up with a million of ideas all at once five minutes after I was done with my coffee, I was feeling jittery and jumpy.
2. Anxiety and depression
This. This should have been the one and only reason that made me cut down my coffee consumption. But I was too stupid to actually listen to it. After I was done with coffee, I'd have terrible mood swings, overwhelming negative thoughts and feeling constantly worried, like I was standing on the edge of a cliff, ready to fall. I would feel extremely annoyed, easily irritated and ready to snap or yell at anyone who talked to me. It was stupid.
3. Feeling sluggish, tired and sleepless
Yeah sure, the rush of energy was great but it was not permanent. It never is, which is why people go into this vicious cycle of more coffee and less water. Once the effect subsides, I was left feeling sluggish, tired and sometimes sleepy. As much as I loved how coffee helped me to stay in focus and alert, less water equals to slower blood flow which then leads me to feel even more tired than before.
4. Less sleep, more insomnia
I always have insomnia to begin with and my crazy dose of caffeine intake was not helping. My sleeping pattern was more than messed up — it was f*cked up. I remember going to bed at 5 or 6 in the morning because I couldn't sleep faster and I'd show up in class like a zombie. Guess what I took in class to stay awake? Yet another coffee. It's a never-ending loop.
5. Digestive problem and headache
I am a loyal subscriber of stomach ulcer and gastric acid reflux. It's a genetic condition; my mother has it, my grandparents have it. I remember drinking coffee more than actually eating proper meal. Like I said, I was on extreme diet where I'd jolt down my calorie intake per day and I chose coffee over food. I would also experience headache, have bloated stomach and went to bed feeling nauseous.
Transitioning to tea
I used to have people telling me that I shouldn't rely on coffee so much and I spent years dissing them, defending my venti sized of perfectly brewed cappuccino and telling them I am not experiencing any drawback when in fact, I was. I'm not sure why I was like that but I'm glad I managed to stop myself from the endless loop of caffeinated routine and restless days.
I had a phase where I stopped going to Starbucks although I couldn't remember how it began. I suppose the fact that I am more of a homebody than an outgoing person also helped me to get used to not buying coffee. The lesser I visited Starbucks, the more I start to get used to the absence of caffeine in my body. I first told myself to stay away from coffee for a week and I succeeded. A week grew into a month and from there, it just took its own course.
I wish I can say that I am totally coffee or caffeine-free now but I won't lie about it: I'm not 100% caffeine-free. I still like the caramel macchiato from Starbucks (or other coffee shops, to be honest because let's be real, that drink is bomb) and I still drink it once in a while. I also stopped asking for extra shot of espresso in my drink. If anything, I frequently opt for a decaf choice.
Unlike coffee, teas — especially green tea — are known to contain lower dose of caffeine and provide you with antioxidants. Some teas are also known to boost the immune system, help calm you sleep and relieve nausea or bloating. Transitioning to teas have helped provide me the energy I need without making me feel sluggish or sleepy — unless of course, you're talking about herbal, caffeine-free teas like chamomile or peppermint that are proven to help with insomnia. They also boost my metabolism, memory and concentration without dreadful side effects. Even better, I don't find myself feeling agitated or jittery and I certainly do not experience heartburn, acid reflux or chest pain anymore. This actually makes me appreciate tea even more than before.
A short fun tip: try matcha powder if you are someone who does not like green tea in loose leaves or bags. Matcha powder is one of my absolute favorites when I get bored of green tea bags. You can read more about the benefits of matcha tea here.
I used to think about how do non-coffee drinkers survive without coffee and yet, look at me now.
images via at_bobby
Do you prefer coffee or tea? Were or are you as addicted as I was? Does coffee bring you the side effects that I experienced?