One Week Without Coffee
It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s been a full week since I last drank (caffeinated) coffee! Today I had some decaf in the french press, but I’m realizing that decaf coffee doesn’t do it for me. I think it tastes the same as regular, but drinking it isn’t fun for me. It makes me feel like an old lady. I think I’ll stick to the green and herbal tea.
The good part is I’m feeling just fine, and I’m at the point where I don’t really think about coffee in the mornings. I suppose I’m not quite as happy during the hour or two when I normally would drink it, but I feel so much better for the rest of the day. None of that nasty anxiety that, for me, always follows coffee-drinking.
What I want to know is: how are YOU doing on your 30-day challenges? For most of you it’s been a week or close to it, hope nobody’s fallen off the wagon yet!
I’ve been thinking a lot about acquired tastes ever since Pete mentioned in his guest post that when he tried coffee after not having it for three weeks, it didn’t taste that good to him! I experienced the same thing a few years ago– as part of a New Year’s resolution, I drank no alcohol for three months before the Shamrock Marathon in March. I couldn’t wait to get across that finish line and drink a few quarts of free Yuengling, the sponsor of the race that year. But when I lifted the cup to my lips to drink that sweet nectar I had missed so much… it tasted terrible! Remember how beer smelled (and tasted, if you had experimental parents) when you were a little kid? That bitter, almost stale sensation? It was exactly like that.
I tried some wine a few days later, and I had a flashback to my first (and not my last, but close) communion. It was that vinegary-ness that wine tastes like when you’re a kid. What is it about beer, wine, and coffee that make them not so good after a layoff?
The answer is that they’re all acquired tastes. Tastes that you initially have an adverse reaction to, but that you learn to love. Your teachers, of course, are those who went through the same learning process a long time ago, back when they didn’t like it either.
That we don’t naturally like this stuff should give us a hint that it isn’t good for us! If you have to learn to like something, and it doesn’t taste so good after a few weeks without, there’s a reason. Your body doesn’t naturally like it; it has to be convinced by your brain.
I can think of two objections to this idea. The first will come from those who love hearing about the studies that show how good red wine and coffee are for us. Here’s the problem with that. People love to hear this (because they like drinking), so they spread it. Maybe you’ll see it on the news, maybe Yahoo! will run a fun story about it, and you’ll forward it to some coworkers or drinking buddies. Do you think a study showing how bad alcohol and caffeine are would have the same viral effect? Of course not. So there’s little incentive for researchers to report such results, and when they are reported we don’t hear about them. And yes, coffee and wine contain some good antioxidants (sadly, for many Americans, coffee is their leading source), but what wonderful benefits would these studies show if they used grape juice instead of wine?
The other objection will be “What about vegetables? Lots of kids don’t like vegetables, but learn to appreciate them as they grow up.” To this one, the only defense I have is that often we don’t eat the same vegetables on a daily or even weekly basis. For most of us, several weeks pass between servings of cucumber, squash, mushrooms, and lots of non-everyday veggies. But when we have them after several weeks without, they don’t taste weird. They taste just as good as they have since we started liking them. In that way, vegetables are different from the acquired tastes that I’m talking about.
My point isn’t that you should never drink coffee, wine, or beer. What fun would that be? I drink each of them several times a month, sometimes more often, and I love them (though I’m liking less and less how they make me feel). All things considered, I’m much happier drinking them on occasion than I would be without, and that’s my criterion. And you need to eat and drink what makes you happiest. Just don’t lie to yourself about how good these things are for you.