Saturday, August 13, 2011

Figuring Out the Coffee Thing

As I focus on ingesting things that are nourishing to me, I feel a little conflicted about the whole coffee thing. Let me give a little background on my coffee history.

When I was a kid, my parents never drank coffee. Tea? Yes. My mother drank her tea. And once in awhile my Dad would order some kind of strong, black coffee "shot" at the end of a meal. But we never had coffee brewing in our home. My Grandpa drank coffee, but I have no childhood emotions or memories linked to coffee at all.

When I was 16, I was working in a small office where one of my duties was to brew a pot of coffee each day for my boss. I was invited to have some anytime I wanted; thus began my coffee drinking experience. I felt so grown up with my mug of coffee, heavy with cream and sugar, but never drank coffee outside the office.

And then at 17, I ventured into a new religion and swore off all alcohol, coffee, tea, and caffeinated drinks. My coffee days were over, but I didn't miss it. It wasn't a big deal to me. So 16 years went by and I never tasted another sip of coffee. When I stopped going to church and decided to find my own spiritual path, I was curious about coffee once again. I remember my first venture to a Starbucks drive-thru; I had no idea what a "latte" or an "Americano" or an "espresso" was, and felt rather flustered trying to order something to try. But everyone raved, so it must be good. I had a latte, wasn't a big fan, and didn't go back for a long time. It took me a few tries to find something sweet enough and rich enough that I enjoyed, but I *wanted* to like Starbucks. All my friends did. It must be good....

Years went by. I tried coffee here and there but never was a fan of the bitterness. Oh, if you throw enough sugar and cream in it, it is great, but that is a dessert, not a drink. It ended up being more like a hot milkshake when I got done adding things. On and off through the years I tried it. When I started losing weight four years ago, I switched to tea. I went through a massive tea obsessive phase and still have about 50 different kinds of teas in my cupboard from it. For awhile I went to green tea for the health benefits. And then, while I was on Medifast, I went back to coffee.

Now I like coffee. Sweet, yes. Not as sweet as before, but I got in the habit of adding a tablespoon of sugar free vanilla creamer to each cup (15 calories) and would have 2 cups every morning. Sometimes, I'd make another cup or two in the afternoon, hot or iced. It always felt like an indulgent treat.

And that's the thing, now. In my head and emotions, coffee has become the "indulgent treat" that I *deserve.* It is something I restricted for some time, couldn't afford for many years, and now that I like it, I very much enjoy going to the grocery store each week and looking for some reasonably priced, on-sale coffee beans to grind in the store's grinder and try at home. It feels special and, in turn, *I* feel special. Strange, I know. It feels like a special little gift I give myself, and only costs about $2 since I grind small amounts at a time for sampling. And I am having a hard time letting it go.

I've tried drinking it black. I've tried it with just a splash of half and half. I've tried "good" coffee and great, expensive coffees I've been gifted. I've tried it with Stevia. But it just doesn't taste good to me unless I add either my favorite sugar free creamer or a lot of sugar and cream. Neither is healthy. It bothers me when I drink it because I want to do better for my body. But am I making a big deal out of nothing?

After all, coffee has antioxidants in it. Some studies say it is good for you. And hey, what's a measly 30 calories a day of sugar free creamer anyway? No biggie, right? But yet, it bothers me, because I am trying to completely stop using artificial sweeteners of all kinds. What to do?

Ideally, my brain says I should just quit the coffee and have green tea every morning, which I can enjoy without any additives. I just feel resistant to give up my coffee 'luxury.'

Not sure what I am doing, except letting myself use the sugar free creamer for a few more days until I figure it out.

27 comments:

Princess Dieter said...

Unless hubby loses his job and I lose the pleasure of great, freshly roasted and shipped to be Ethiopian, Brazilian and Sumatran faves from Paradise Roasters and Terroir Coffee, I will not give up my 4 to 6 cuppas a day (2 with caffeine, the rest decaf). It's one of my weight loss tools. I get soooo much pleasure from my cups of fresh, hot, supergood brews freshly ground at home in my burr grinder then made at the perfect water temp in my Technivorm with some sucralose.

To heck with the negative aspects of sucralose. I weigh the pros (helps me eat less , helps me not need desserts cause coffee IS dessert, helps me fill up fluid-wise with joy) and cons (um, sucralose that I add ain't grea, but teeth staining is the only con I can think of given the health benefits of coffee and the asthma-aiding components for an asthmatic like me and the diabetes countering effects).

I don't need cream or milk.

When I wanna splurge, I keep some coffee to cool from a brew, add it over ice later with half and half and sweeten and add cinnamon. That's an occasional iced coffee treat that's like having coffee cake without the cake calories. :D
For me, it's a go. Coffee rocks. :D

Misty said...

Have you considered trying Coffeemate Natural Bliss ...it does not have all the chemicals in it that the others do

Wishful Shrinking said...

Coffee is something I abstain from. I am a total coffee addict though. If I am in the coffee it's 2 pots of coffee at home and 1-3 caribou or Starbucks stops during the day. For me I had to give it up because it is a drug. It changes my mood. It disrupts my sleep. It charges up my fight or flight response. For me, I also think it is a gateway for sugar. I like the fun lattes and flavored creamers ect. I can drink it with skim and splenda but it is not my preference. I had a doctor that mentioned that it interferes with your endo systems. That the sleep disturbance it causes make your body release more insulin and that that makes you crave more carbs. I am on day 39 with out coffee, alcohol or sugar and I do not crave it which is a miracle.

Yvette said...

I eat healthy most of the time and personally, coffee helps me in 2 ways. It helps me avoid heavier, calorie-laden foods and it's a great mood lifter when I need it. Not a bad exchange!

Forty Pound Sack said...

Give yourself some more time. You have such great self-awareness, you'll know what the right thing for YOU is. Personally, if you're doing great on everything else and coffee isn't a trigger for you, I'd say keep enjoying it, but you'll figure it out. I have faith in you. =)

Elaine said...

I say you should have your coffee. People DO need treats here and there, and coffee has fewer downsides than most other treats I can think of!

That being said, I don't have weight-loss goals, only healthier-living goals. But I do think that part of healthy living is a little innocent pleasure here and there. :)

ssm said...

Maybe you could treat yourself in some other way? Perhaps a nice pair of earrings or fresh flowers for your table or a pedicure or...whatever it is that would make you feel special.

Jane Cartelli said...

When I was losing weight coffee was my indulgent treat. Cream - of course; Whipped Cream - sure. Syrups and toppings - occasionally. I love the taste of coffee enough with cream and sweetener I really did not need anything else.

BUT, when I gave up all milkfat - my coffee drinking dropped to nil for a while. Then I found I could still like it with skim and either splenda or a sugar free flavoring. Today I have it with skim milk, sometimes with no artificial sweetener, sometimes with.

When I went back and forth with having half and half, whole milk, 2% - I always wanted the cream. Now that I have none of them I am happy with the skim milk or even black, if it is iced of of a decent quality. It just took me five years to get here.

Jane~
Keepingthepoundsoff.com

Anonymous said...

i refuse to give up coffee the way i like it on my own weight loss journey. i did two things. first, i only allowed myself 1-2 cups per day. then, what i did was pour a cup, then measure cream and maple syrup (my coffee sweetener of choice) to see how much it would take to make my perfect cup. the next time i made my coffee, i'd measure out a little less, and the time after that, a little less, until i found a way to drink it with less cream and sweetener. but there's no way i will have it without either of those whole ingredients, and i love it! you'll find what's right for you. i like what princess dieter said; she's got some great points.

Erika said...

Here is the thing, and I am no nutritionist here: I've gone through (and am still going through) my own weight loss/healthiness journey and sugar free sweeteners are such a grey area for me personally.

But I LOVE coffee, and do enjoy it black and unsweatened. But, I have a little trick for when you want just a touch of sweetness: Starbucks puts in 5 pumps of syrup in a medium (grande) whether you ask for regular or sugar-free. Just ask them to half that amount (you won't even notice). It's 4 for a tall and 6 for a venti! Trust me it will really help.

lisa~sunshine said...

I won't give up my coffee either.. I did for a bit though when I went OVER board with wanting to eat as clean and healthy as I could.. what that got me was a ORTHOREXIC thinking pattern which wasn't good either.. You have to have some things you enjoy and still be able to live.. I hope you find the balance that works for you..

timothy said...

caffeine really isn't good for you and luckily i've NEVER even tried coffee. truth be told it stinks (literally) it stains your teeth and it's expensive. three very good reasons for me to avoid it! maybe you should simply limit it to one cup in the morning and drink tea the rest of the day. that way it's still a "treat"

beerab said...

I treat myself with a cup of hot coffee with 1 tbsp of creamer and 2 packs of sweetener. To me it's my 20 calorie indulgence every morning :) I don't like that fake sugar stuff but I'll only drink it in my coffee. I probably have this a few mornings a week.

shrinkingbetsey said...

I love my home-made latte, I've been making them for 25 years now.

It's kind of funny, the powers that be were always trying to find something wrong with coffee, study after study -- and now it turns out that it is pretty good for you.

I think you should enjoy your coffee with 1 teaspoon of real sugar and some skim milk. But your sugar-free creamer sounds just fine to me, also.

Just try to enjoy your coffee as much as I enjoy your blog!

Diana said...

Very interesting that I was thinking the same thing today. I had to give blood for some lab work for my doctor, so I skipped the coffee. About 4pm I had a major headache and remembered no coffee today!

It made me think that maybe I should give up coffee. If my body is that addicted to caffeine, is it really good for me?

I prefer it sweet too, but force myself to drink it black. I hate the taste. I drink it for the energy I get. Its sort of like legalized speed.

I'm still on the fence about quitting it. Maybe now is the time since I have one day caffeine-free.

I'm curious what you'll do.

Just read Wishful Shrinking's comment. I tink Ill quit. :)

Anonymous said...

I went my whole life without coffee but always put milk in my tea. In the last few years I started having coffee in the morning with half and half, no sugar, due to all the "good press" about coffee. I think having some fat is good for you, it helps keep you fuller than everything skim. I don't drink enough of it to worry about it I guess.

PaulaM

Jennifer said...

Hey Lynn :) on a weightloss journey myself and usually a total lurker..but I went through the same dilemna recently trying just to eat healthy whole foods and stay around 1500 cal. a day..nothing artificial or overly processed. I did give up diet sodas entirely but I feel the exact same about coffee as you do so I have it..a few times a week..1 tbsp. 1/2 and 1/2 and 2 truvia packets. I didn't like stevia at all until I tried this brand..it isn't bitter...so many other things in life to fret about..a little freshly ground antioxidant rich coffee shouldn't be one of them I think :) thanks for sharing your life with us..looking forward to your new meal ideas and this different chapter in your life :)

Bunpoh said...

Ooh, I know it's late to way in, but I have to say, coffee's been one vice I am still allowed. 2 cups or one double americano a day. I, and lots of scientists disagree on the statement made above that caffeine is bad for you, and it's not just the antioxidants. It may head off brain and nervous disorders, too. In any case, I believe moderation is the key. Also, I drink my coffee with a splash of full fat whipping cream and some honey or xylitol which is pretty natural and innocuous compared to aspartame or sucralose. I've lost and kept off 125 pounds or so now, so I must be doing something right. And again, I sleep just fine as long as I limit it to two cups or two shots. Good coffee is worth it's weight in gold, and tastes kind of naturally sweet, too...NOT Starbucks, small independent coffee shops and roasters make amazing coffee. Up with the bean! :) Anyways, best, love your new farmer's market bent!

Bunpoh said...

Did I really write "way in" instead of weigh in? Whoops, must be late! :)

Werner said...

I started off with tea when I was a kid (mom's a Brit), but when I got a night shift job my life-long love affair with coffee began. I go to coffee is Colombian Supremo. I drink 2-4 cups a day. We make our own - it saves major bucks doing so. It really helps to tame that hunger beast between meals.

Anonymous said...

If you can stick to 1 cup of coffee with no added sugar and some sort of dash of cream, I really don't see any big compromise with that. I think since you're sugar sensitive, keeping the sugar out is the biggie. It won't cost you much calories at all, and I think you'll learn to appreciate the nutty roasted flavor sans sugar. If not, no big deal, since you never really seemed to get SUPER into it to begin with...not Like some do.

Tally said...

Lurker coming out: I just quit coffee (decaf) because it triggers my cravings and I can't find balance for long with it in my acceptable possibilities. Once I get rid of it, I am fine. Even though I drink decaf, I just made it through the worst coffee withdrawal I have had. It may be because I was also coming off of other addictive junk foods, too. I agree with the other commentator: given what you write about your relationship with coffee, it's the sweetener you are addicted to and not the actual coffee. I fought giving up coffee for so long but all it's done is send me in circles. For me, even with decaf (some decafs have almost as much caffeine as regular coffee), I was addicted to the jolt from caffeine. But, I was less worried about the caffeine than the food triggers/cravings the coffee was causing.

TXwife said...

I love coffee and could easily drink a pot a day. Love the sugar free flavored creamers, DaVinci SF syrups, and half and half.
That being said, I am one of the rare people who is caffeine sensitive. It makes my blood pressure skyrocket to amazingly unhealthy levels (think 210/114)! So I abstain out of purely health reasons. I don't even drink tea, sodas, or decaf.
Sometimes you have to decide what you're willing to live with and what you can't. I don't want to be on blood pressure meds forever and so no caffeine and losing the weight. It's working but I do miss coffee above anything else.

Diandra said...

Do you really feel you have to "be good" all of the time? Coffee is one of my favorite indulgences, and I drink it with plain milk. I used to add sugar, but with the right kind of coffee, that's not necessary. I think the "coffee without" thing is something you get used to.

(Every once in a while I buy some sweetened evaporated milk, like "dulce di leche", which I enjoy with my coffee. That is, like, one a year.)

Lyn said...

Diandra~

no, in fact, I don't think eating any particular thing is "being bad". The coffee thing, for me, is about my desire to stop eating artificial sweeteners which I don't think are good for me. But sugar makes my arthritis hurt.

I might try a cup with a teaspoon of local honey and see how that tastes. Local honey is what I use for my seasonal allergies anyway.

Karen said...

Lyn, you sound so upbeat and positive and that gives me help and encouragement too. I really believe all those whole nourishing foods are what we were MEANT to eat and someday I hope to be able to follow your lead. Right now I need the crutches of Slim Fast shakes, Splenda sweetened ice tea, those 100 calorie packs of snacks, and some frozen Lean Cuisines, but I am doing this in baby steps. Step one is to stop with all the candy, chips, chocolate milk, and ice cream!!!

Katy Olson said...

So you are consuming 2 cups of a coffee a day and with your 15 calorie sweetener, an additional 30 calories. I don't think it's that big of a deal but I've never been one to restrict my foods when I diet. I can't be successful if I completely cut out everything that I like. Of course, I've not been real successful at all in the last 8 months but I can't imagine cutting out my coffee...although I've done it before. It's up to you. Good luck!