Last fall, I decided to fast from coffee. Initially, I considered this fast from coffee out of a desire to see if it would have any kind of affect on my gut health. But, as I started thinking about it, I knew I had a strong addiction to coffee. I was very surprised to actually find that the best effects from this coffee fast were on what this change did for my spiritual relationship with the Lord.
I am not sure when I started drinking coffee, but I think it goes back to my college days when I was working at a bagel shop, opening up at least 3 days a week at 6:00am. At some point, I became dependent on those freshly brewing pots of coffee to keep me going on those 6.5 hour shifts. I know that I started working there in 1999, so that's about 20 years.
So, you can imagine this was not the easiest feat, but when I began seeing it as an addiction, and one I probably had for more than 20 years, I was even more determined to fast from coffee for some time.
I never thought that giving up coffee would be so difficult. Getting over it physically was the easiest part! I quickly cut my consumption, then replaced caffeinated coffee with decaf, and finally was off of it completely in less than a week with no headaches or other side effects. But, the mental and emotional game and the change of routine it brought was the hardest part and the biggest eye opener for me.
Physically: Not drinking coffee really did change my sleep patterns--when I went to bed, when I woke up, and napping. I definitely got more hours of sleep when I was fully fasting from coffee (5 weeks all together). I wondered, "If coffee is what really wakes me up and keeps me going, when is this going to catch up with me? When I am older, I do not want to be tired because I missed hours upon hours of sleep that my body would have taken and needed if I wasn't relying on coffee to wake me up or keep me going."
I did not really see any change in my digestive or gut health that I had hoped for, but I did read a good bit during this time about the good and bad effects of coffee. I am a little more cautious about drinking coffee on an empty stomach now, and I have changed my routine up for sure.
I also noticed that when I wasn't drinking coffee, I did not have the afternoon slump that I had for many years. It was harder to get going in the mornings, but once I was going, my energy was more consistent throughout the day.
Emotionally: I am an early riser and love to have some quiet time with the Lord before my kids wake up. The battle to wake up was HARD when I didn't have my hot cup of coffee waiting for me. Some days I was actually super sad about it. Some times I was frustrated, and then I just felt silly or even angry because of all of this over coffee! It was definitely an emotional experience for me to fast from coffee, bringing a lot of emotions out during those weeks.
Mentally: It was for sure harder for me to focus most mornings as I woke up. However, I will say that about a week after I was off of coffee, my ability to focus all day long was more regulated.
Spiritually: Because for more than 15 years, I have read my Bible, journaled, spent time in prayer, and sat with the Lord with coffee, it was such a strange thing to meet with the Lord without coffee. This was surprising to me, and it actually was the best and biggest effect the fast had for me!
When I was doing something new and changing up my habits of the time and way I was meeting with the Lord, it was like a fresh change. Doing something different really brought a freshness to my relationship with the Lord! This was the biggest surprise and blessing from my coffee fast!
So, I challenge you and ask you, are you in a monotonous habit of meeting with the Lord? Change it up! Do something different. You don't have to give up coffee, but maybe you could try a different time of the day, a different medium (app or regular Bible), a different version of the Bible, or even try giving up your cup of coffee too! Little or big changes might just bring a freshness you need!
For those who may be wondering...I definitely drink coffee now! Sometimes right when I wake up; most of the time a little later in the morning. Some times I have two cups a day, rarely even three, but most of the time just one cup! But, even now, months after this fast, I try to keep that changed up so that I am not quite as dependent on it as before!