A reader astutely noted that I drink a lot of coffee and asked about it. He said that green tea is probably healthier if I believe in caffeine, and caffeine is a mixed bag anyways isn't it?
Fact is, I have very few vices or addictions, but caffeine is one of them.
I think there's some metabolic benefits and if used correctly, you can better performance out of it. But I don't necessarily recommend it. Indeed, green tea is probably healthier, but I already don't eat carbs, don't eat mammals, don't drink/smoke/do drugs/etc, and otherwise live a pretty intense life. Coffee is a vice that I might quit eventually, but for now it's one of the chief vices I've got. I do enjoy a good tea as well, but coffee moreso.
In any event, I'll seriously crunch the benefits/drawbacks at some point and likely quit coffee. But it's key to not do too much at once and I've already got a lot of health and other goals/projects in process.
Earlier today, I was trying to write some automation processes for someone I'm consulting for. I was stuck while trying to define what the goals are behind any particular action and the evaluation criteria for which process to choose - and I was just useless and dragging.
Then I realized I hadn't had a coffee. Caffeine up, and then BAM, I quickly crank out a thorough four page document and we get a job description up in a fraction of the time since I'd been dragging.
So yeah, my name is Sebastian Marshall and I'm a caffeine addict. Nice to meet you.
Let me sign up for this meeting as well...
I think coffee / caffeine is a relatively benign addiction and there is much more benefit to be achieved in breaking other more harmful additions like alcohol, tobacco, sugar, white carbs... I haven't seen any literature espousing caffeine as having a negative effect on health in small (2-3 cups per day) doses. There does seem to be some slightly positive effect (metabolic), if any.
Coffee has a lot of health benefits. I'm sure that when you make your pro/con list, you'll realize that, ceteris paribus, you'll probably both live longer and be more productive if you continue to drink coffee.
Be careful not to convince yourself you _need_ coffee to function properly. This psychological aspect of addiction is much harder to kick than the physical part. It's the same problem with smoking, at some point you persuade yourself that you need that coffee/cigarette otherwise you'll feel like crap. The funny (or sad) thing is that it's exactly the opposite, that cigarette will make you feel like crap, that coffee will just make you feel normal.
Yes, that boosted, awake state you feel after that coffee is in fact the normal state of a non-coffee drinker.
In some ways the big scare about quitting (smoking especially but caffeine too) is a self-fulfilling prophecy, we fail before trying thinking it will be awfully hard when in fact it's not.
That said I do enjoy coffee quite a lot, I wouldn't stop now, but I did completely before and the difference is shocking. Now I try to be careful not to drink it too much.
I eat pretty well and take pretty good care of myself. But it's taken quite a while to get here - before 2006, I had a pretty standard American diet. Lots of pizza, junk food, fast food, liquor, soda, sweets, etc. I smoked cigarettes, cigars, sheesha, and other kinds of tobacco.
Since then I've refined my diet and I eat pretty well. I have more energy, feel better, look better, and God willing, I'll live a lot longer as a result. It's a gradual process though, and I'm still improving. There's a few things I use to do it:
First, I'm all about incremental improvement - I think trying to crash change your diet is unlikely to work unless you have immense amounts of willpower and self-discipline. If you do have these Herculean amounts of will and discipline, you know who you are and don't need my advice. If you're more mortal, then you'll want to pick one or two things to be refining in your diet at a time.
Second, there's two ways I quit food or habits I don't like - "hard quitting" (cold turkey) and "soft quitting" (gradually reduce my consumption and eventually eliminate it). I pick which of these routes to go based on how convenient it is to quit something outright and if there's any detox process. If there's detox (like there was with nicotine), I think it's better to just get it over with once instead of constantly feeling deprived as your body re-adjusts to its new biochemical levels. The most successful method for quitting smoking is cold turkey, isn't it? Something like 80% of successful attempts to quit smoking are cold turkey? I don't have the statistics onhand, but that's the general idea. Quitting something like sugar, bad oils, or excess salt might be easier to do incrementally, since you need to replace the consumption with something else.
Which brings us to third point - I actively introduce new good behaviors before and during the time I quit something. Now, I don't know if the following is a good strategy, but it's what I did - when I started cutting down the sweets I ate, I increased my consumption of the kinds of salty foods I already ate: Chips, french fries, nuts, etc. Later I cut the salt content back. I don't know if that's a good habit, but it's worked okay for me. I also try to actively introduce fruits and vegetables before I quit something - it's hard to go from no fiber food that's highly processed to stimulate you immediately to fruits and vegetables. Fruit tastes bland compared to ice cream. So I introduce fruits and vegetables first, get comfortable with them, then increase my consumption of them as I decrease or eliminate bad consumption.
A little while ago, I read a post on Sebastian Marshall's blog about cutting caffeine, in which goes into the benefits and a method he uses for quitting coffee. He suggests cycling off it to reset your tolerance every so often. I figured that was a really good idea since I'd gotten to the point where in the morning I needed a coffee to feel normal, it was a good time to do something about it.
Sebastian's method I found a little extreme. There's a certain aesthetic to drinking coffee that I really enjoy and trying to replace it with green tea and pills wasn't going to work. Sebastian may have a mental strength I simply don't possess so I needed to offset the caffeine with altering the experience much.
I also don't really need to be incredibly specific about the mg doses of caffeine I'm giving myself, this seemed like a needless complex way off essentially weaning, so I figured I come up with more maintainable approach.
My solution was pretty straight-forward. Simply wind down the amount of caffeinated coffee you drink.