In May it will be four years since I quit drinking coffee. Woohoo! Big deal you say? Yes, it is a big deal, because I used to drink up to 14 cups of coffee a day. Yes, fourteen cups a day, along with the fourteen teaspoons of sugar to sweeten up my java.

How it happened is I mentioned to my brother that I was having stomach problems and he asked me how much coffee I was drinking. I told him and he said, “there’s your problem. The same thing happened to me and it went away when I quit drinking coffee.”

So, I quit drinking coffee for a few days and sure enough my stomach pains went away. Yahoo. So what did I do? I started drinking coffee again, but only five or six cups a day. LOL. Then slowly, without realizing it, I started drinking more again. Pretty soon I was drinking over ten cups a day. Not cool, man.

Then when I went to Rhodes Wellness College I started drinking two medium coffee in the morning and one in the afternoon because I was in class. Then I switched to one large cup in the morning and one medium in the afternoon.

Finally, in our addictions class in May 2014, we had to give up something we were addicted to, for two weeks. I gave up coffee and I soon announced in class that I was thinking of giving up coffee for good. When the two weeks was up, I said I was done drinking coffee. Yeah right, some of my classmates said. And here I am almost four years later and still no coffee.

Benefits of quitting coffee

I used to need a coffee to feel normal in the morning and then more to stay that way. Caffeine changes our brain’s chemistry so we need more coffee to achieve the desired results. That’s why I was up to fourteen cups a day. So glad I ended that cycle.

And I’m saving money. Feeding my caffeine addiction was costing me thousands of dollars a year. Four extra large coffees costs about $10 a day or $3,650 a year. Whew. How much would you save? Coffee was also raising my blood pressure, so quitting coffee helped lower my blood pressure and allowed my heart to not work as hard.

The half-life of caffeine is 4 to 6 hours, so drinking coffee late in the day interfered with my sleep. I slept better after I quit and even people who don’t drink coffee after noon say they sleep better.

My moods are more even too. What am I talking about? I was grumpy until I had my morning coffee and felt sluggish when the caffeine began to wear off. So, I’d drink more coffee. Sound familiar? Caffeine also stimulates the adrenal glands, so quitting coffee helped to make me feel less anxious and should really help if you’re prone to anxiety issues.

Caffeine is a major trigger for headaches and sometimes for migraines. Any change in my daily coffee consumption resulted in caffeine withdrawal headaches. This all stopped when I quit. And I don’t have to drive all the way across town to get a Tim Horton’s coffee. Imagine never having to stop at Tim Hortons on the way to work. Imagine all the time saved from driving and standing in line.

And I make fewer trips to the bathroom. Yay! That’s because caffeinated drinks make us pee more often, which makes it difficult during meetings and road trips. And finally, as I said, my stomach problems stopped when I quit drinking coffee. That’s because coffee increases stomach acid, which can lead to increased acid reflux and heartburn.

So, want to save a bunch of money and gain all the benefits I did? Try putting a plug in the coffee mug.

Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus Sr. Is a certified wellness counsellor who survived heart disease and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

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