I have never been a daily coffee drinker. However, I did have a two to three cup-a-week habit. I love the smell of coffee. I enjoy a hot cup of joe on a cold winter morning and the jolt of caffeine pulsing through my body. And, I won’t pretend I don’t relish the sugary taste of a white chocolate mocha. Yet, due to being pregnant, nursing and my son’s reflux disease, I was somewhat forced to give up caffeine. Going caffeine-free wasn’t easy, yet there were some benefits. As a result, I have a love-hate relationship with my new caffeine-free lifestyle.
Caffeine while Pregnant and Nursing
While pregnant and nursing, I decided to give up my caffeine habit. Although WebMD says that moderate caffeine intake is “ok” during pregnancy, I never wanted to have to worry about how much caffeine was too much. Also, some babies may be sensitive to the mother’s caffeine intake. In the case of my son’s GERD (reflux disease), I pretty much wasn’t given a choice. Caffeine, carbonated beverages, dairy and a multitude of other foods caused my son discomfort. Thus, since he was essentially eating what I was eating, I had to make sure my breastmilk wouldn’t make him sick. I even had to give up chocolate (oh, the horror).
It’s hard to stay away from something when you can’t have it. The smell of coffee or chocolate gave me bad cravings. Since I couldn’t have fried foods, pizza and other comfort foods, the cravings were even worse. In addition, ordering a caffeine, dairy, and chocolate-free coffee didn’t really sound like much fun. Then, after awhile, the cravings subsided. I replaced coffee with caffeine-free iced tea. I found some really great vegan oatmeal cookies. Furthermore, I started reaping the benefits of going caffeine-free.
Going Caffeine-Free Helped Me Lose Weight
I know some people may drink their coffee black. However, I always liked milk and sugar in mine. And even though I have never been a soda drinker, I had to completely swear it off. Take away brownies and chocolate chip cookies and I was eating less sugar. As a result, I was able to lose weight. And, each time I watched other people drinking and eating things I couldn’t, I silently thanked my son for helping me go caffeine-free.
Other than helping me slim down, going without coffee helped me get more sleep (at least as much sleep as one can with a baby). Instead of relying on caffeine to wake me up in the morning, I went to bed earlier. In the past, having some coffee in the afternoon caused me to stay up later. Caffeine can disturb your sleep patterns. According to healthyeating.sfgate.com, it “can produce irritability, restlessness, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure.” For some, it may “also produce heartburn, rapid speech, incessant thoughts, sweaty palms and rapid and/or impulsive speech.” And, if you’re not careful, drinking too much caffeine can dehydrate you. Thus, make sure to drink plenty of water.
Benefits of Caffeine
Like many food and drink products, for every bad effect, there seems to be something good. For instance, caffeine consumption has been shown to prevent things like dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Yet, according to a New York Times blog, it’s “unclear whether caffeine by itself provides the benefits associated with coffee drinking or if coffee contains other valuable ingredients.”
Testing the Waters
My son’s GERD has been improving. While I haven’t had any coffee, I have had a little chocolate and just recently, a brownie. I suppose I can’t say I lead a completely caffeine-free life any longer. However, until I am done nursing, I’m not going to be having any coffee. As for now, I no longer feel the need for caffeine.
More from Melissa:
Saying Goodbye to My Fast Food Lifestyle
Health Benefits of Cinnamon: It’s Not Just a Spice After All!
Eating Organic Food Doesn’t Make You a Snob (Unless You Act like One)