When it comes to my favourite hot beverage of choice – it is without a shadow of a doubt a good old cup of tea. Breakfast tea, to be precise. That first sip in the morning when I wake up is like an angel kissing my throat.
Much like when you think of Che Guevara, you instantly picture him with an iconic big fat cigar in his mouth – those who know me well back in England probably can’t even picture me without a mug of steaming Yorkshire happiness in my hand.
But that was then, and since leaving British shores finding a ‘proper’ cup of tea has become a life goal overseas. I was never massively into coffee, but I liked it as a change now and then. I just never really ‘got’ it…
…and then I moved to Colombia.
Colombian coffee is almost as sexy as its women. It was love at first sip from the first day that I landed in Medellin and a new addiction was born. When I use the word ‘addiction,’ I very much mean it in the most literal sense.
I have a very addictive personality and I have fought against a long list of them all my life. To me an addiction is when something feels like it’s almost impossible to stop doing, even though you feel your life is suffering because of it. Video games, porn, cocaine to name a few and coffee has now sneaked its way onto my naughty list.
Friends from coffee-culture nations suggest I should; “just have one per day,” but it’s gotten way beyond that. Coffee has me my the balls and something’s got to give.
So for the next six months I’m conducting an experiment/challenge to see how I feel after not drinking any tea or coffee. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and I keep failing. But for some weird reason, when I announce things publicly like this – I tend to follow up on what I’m affirming and successfully achieve my aim.
It might be because I’m just an ostentatious, narcissistic piece of shit but whatever works for the greater good, right?
I know I’m not the only one who is a complete caffeine slut, so I’ll elaborate more below on the main reasons which brought me to this decision.
But, Why Tea Too?!
I’m sure most Brits who read that sentence had heart failure, or want to see me hang at the PG Tips headquarters for high treason. Coffee, ok we get it – but tea as well? Innocent, little old tea?
My decision (which was made with a heavy, heavy heart) for adding tea to the naughty list is this – I know from past addictions that when I try to get over one – what I do is I tend to try and replace one addiction with the other!
I’ve heard a few times that tea has more caffeine in it than coffee, but I really don’t believe/feel that. I could have 5 cups of tea and not really feel anything, but if I had the same volume of coffee – I’d feel wired as f**k, have heart palpitations and not be able to concentrate on anything for even the shortest length of time.
But even with that being said, I know what I’m like and I know my weaknesses. If I leave tea off the list I’ll just end up equalling the caffeine high of coffee through the medium of tea! So me and tea are ‘on a break’ too, sadly. (Note; it’s admittedly a lot easier doing that in Mexico as opposed to the UK, where high-quality tea is everywhere you turn).
Coffee Is “Fake Energy”
The energy that we get from coffee is like a credit card system – we always end up paying more back than we borrow. Coffee lifts you up into the heavens and when it’s done with you – it smacks you on the floor and leaves you to deal with your crash and what most people do in that situation is grab another coffee, in order to feel what they consider is normal again.
It’s a vicious circle that I want out of and I’d rather put more efficient fuel in my body. In my favourite cafes I’ll swap coffee for healthier smoothie alternatives.
I Just Don’t Like Feeling Controlled By Something
I’m sure some people reading this will think I’m being a little melodramatic and I completely understand. Some people just don’t have the propensity to be addicted to certain things. I’m pretty sure I could never be an alcoholic – nowadays I’m ruined for three days after a heavy night and I don’t even want to think of alcohol for another few months.
Or maybe I’m just really weak when it comes to caffeine and I should learn to handle balance better – I’m open to that criticism, but I feel that right now this is the right thing to do for me. Plus, it’ll certainly strengthen my willpower muscles if I go the whole six months cold turkey!
Coffee Denatures Certain Vitamins
Coffee and tea denature the absorption of important vitamins in our body, especially iron and even more so in non-heme iron (which is the type of iron that I get from my diet). Tea is even worse as it is higher in tannins, which binds to certain vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium – affecting the optimal absorption of these crucial necessities for our bodies.
Coffee’s tasty, but osteoporosis and anemia doesn’t sound too fun.
Coffee Is An Appetite Suppressant
Since deciding to base myself in Mexico City for a while I’ve been trying to add more lean muscle mass. That’s my vague way of saying I’m trying to get muscles without a belly. I’m working with a famous online guy (it’s going ok, thanks for asking) and we’re doing things a lot differently to the old-fashioned ‘bulk and cut’ – I’m going down to 10% body fat and then we’ll incrementally work up every month once I achieve that.
I’m happy about this because I find the bulk and cut method miserable. So I’m not eating a massive amount of food, however when I’m working and drinking coffee like it’s my very own life force – I can easily forget to eat – which takes me away from an important goal of mine.
It’s not just the vanity points that I’m losing out on here – it’s also taking me further away from optimal fitness and health. Which begs the question; if you are in a position to look better and feel better – why the hell wouldn’t you?
Coffee Makes Me Anxious
I’m a bit of a stress-head when I’m not conscious of it (and the next subheading will reveal exactly why). I’ve had successful attempts in the past few years of dealing with stress and worry through things like exercise, meditation and the study of being present.
Drinking copious amounts of coffee makes my worries seem bigger and my stress levels go through the roof. Since I’ve been hitting it hard, I’ve felt incredibly impatient and it’s affected my decision-making skills. I’m naturally high-energy anyway so feeding this with a stimulant when I’m concerned/worried about something is a recipe for disaster.
It makes me twitchy, on edge and grind my teeth like a lunatic too!
I Have A Long-Term, Unhealthy Relationship With Sleep
So I’ve saved the best/worst reason until last. I’ve suffered chronic insomnia for as long as I’ve remembered. Again, I use the word ‘insomnia’ in the very literal sense of the word, I’ve been back and forth to doctors and sleep specialists all my life. I was a deeply unhappy child and teen and I have an extremely negative relationship with sleep and stress.
So it kind of makes sense why I struggled so much back then, but why now? My life is a picnic compared to then and I’m relatively happy – so what the hell is going on? Why can’t I sleep? Without exaggeration, I estimate that I have slept more than four continuous hours in one night in only six occasions in the last five years.
When I lived in Bangkok, a well-meaning and health-conscious friend told me that as soon as she met me – she thought I looked like someone who doesn’t sleep a lot. I appreciated her honesty and let’s face it – she was bang on!
I’m an absolute nightmare with sleep. It takes me a long time to switch off at night and even when I do manage to fall asleep (some nights I don’t even sleep at all, even if I’m physically and mentally exhausted) I wake up within hours and can’t get back to sleep.
When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep there are many factors standing in the way of it and a lot of us take it for granted. Even though I’ve absolutely craved a few consecutive nights of high-quality shut eye, I oddly used to fetishise the little sleep I could survive on, like I was seemingly somehow proud of how I could function at an ok level without sleep compared to the average person.
Which is ridiculous really, because being constantly low on sleep is absolutely miserable and anything far from glamourous.
Like I said, a good sleep has many factors and I can’t kid myself for any longer that drinking buckets of Joe isn’t contributing to my insomnia issues. It’s always easier to play the violin when we’re struggling with something than it is to look in the mirror and admit that we’re the creator of our own problems.
I’m finally getting serious about fixing my lifelong sleeping issue and I feel that this is a smart move and a positive step in the right direction. I don’t know if I’ll go back to coffee after these six months, or if I’ll be able to be like a normal person who can just have one, or if I’ll decide to quit for good – but I had to do something because what I’m doing now just isn’t making me feel good or helping me in life.
So that was a lot longer than I wanted it to be! (But thank you if you made it this far). Have you ever quit coffee? Are you a struggling coffeeholic? Are you one of these heroes who can only have one cup per day and leave it there? Show us your black magic!!
Song For The Moment – ‘Can’t Feel My Face,’ By The Weekend
“And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb
And she’ll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come…”