Sunday, June 14, 2015

I Quit Starbucks - Part One





Shortly after becoming a mom of 2 I began the slippery slope of drinking coffee "to function".  But it wasn't just any coffee. I don't like the taste of black coffee. We never had a coffee machine because I had this notion in my early adult life that that would get us hooked on caffeine. Turns out you don't have to have a coffee maker in the house in order to become addicted. Yes, I said addicted.

Definition of ADDICTION:
the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is 
psychologically or physically habit-forming 
as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

Caffeine is quite addictive. Caffeine withdrawal headaches ring a bell?

Sugar is quite possibly the most addictive stuff on the planet. I dare you to calculate all the added sugar you consumer on an average day.

The combination of the two makes it harder to quit.

Something else that makes it harder to quit.... it is the social gathering go to.
1. "Let's grab coffee"
2. "Can you meet for coffee?"
3. "I'd love to take you to coffee sometime."

Starbucks shops probably host more meetings and interviews each year than any other company. Just stop and think about how many times you've met up with someone to talk shop or over heard an interview taking place when you went in to grab your caramel latte.

AND then there's the Starbucks gift cards which has probably become the most common gift to give a friend, teacher, neighbor or co-worker. Sure, I loved receiving them. But now that I think about it, it was often used to just make grabbing a gift easier and less thoughtful. THEN they started that rewards program. I don't know the ins and outs of how it worked because I never got into it. In my heart I knew I didn't want to be rewarded for consuming something that wasn't actually good for me and keeping up a rewards program helps justify the habit  addiction.

As I said, I don't like plain black coffee. The coffee just had to be sweet enough for me to have a craving develop. Have you seen the sugar content in many of Starbucks most popular drinks? My drink of choice had to be accessible enough to get when I was out and about. And if you haven't noticed, those bottled frappacinos are everywhere! Or convenient and cheap enough to pick up in bulk quantity. I'd stock up when they had the coupon for $3 off at Costco. Sometimes this was after I'd made it 4 or 5 days without and was trying to quit.

And that is exactly what Starbucks wants.

You get motivated to quit and then their incredible marketing strategy works and pulls you back in.

My very first experience stopping in at a Starbucks was when I was still in high school. I was on a date with my now husband and we stopped to get hot cocoa. That's what my girlfriends and I would get when we hung out at a small local coffee shop and listened to live music or when we went to a diner and chatted for hours. I even once broke a record of downing 10 cups of hot cocoa in one extra long chat session. Not proud of it, but it was a one time occurrence. I never developed a hot cocoa habit. Back then Starbucks hot cocoa was very bland and quite frankly it was unpalatable so I drank less than half before tossing it. I commented that it was nuts how people were buying into the hype of Starbucks. At that time they were beginning to pop up everywhere.

Then one day we were waiting for our show time at the movie theater in the mall. Our friends wanted to grab a Starbucks. I went on about how I didn't understand why it was all the rage. And then my friend had me try a sip of the brownie frappacino. Oh. Em. Gee. It was so incredibly good. I had no concept of the sugar content. I only really looked at calories. But, this was at a time when restaurants did not have to share nutrition information. And my fondness for frappacinos was born. It really was the occasional treat.... maybe once a week.

And then I had 2 kids under two. Having kids is no joke. It is work. It is lack of sleep. It requires mental acuity. It requires loads of energy. Caring for multiple children at times means you do what you have to do to get through the day. That was the story I told myself. Justifying my bottled frappacino consumption. I mean addiction.

It wasn't until recently that I realized it was the combination of the sugar and coffee.... and maybe even the milk that was causing me to fail at breaking what I deemed a bad habit. I tried kicking "the habit" 8 different times over the last 3 years. EIGHT times I tried. And failed. My youngest was no longer nursing and interrupting my sleep so I felt like I should be able to function without being dependent. I had no idea that it would be a 2 year long journey to be able to say "I made it 30 days without a Starbucks".

There are times where I tried to go more on the cheap and get the 99 cent coffee at 7-11  (you know they have pumpkin spice latte in the fall too). If I didn't make it to Costco to buy the more affordable bottled mocha frappacinos I would stop at the corner store and buy one. But, because of the "better value" I would buy the bigger size. And then that seemed to be what I needed. 13oz instead of 9oz. And sometimes I had one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Do you know how many grams of sugar are in those? 45 grams. Multiply that by 2 for my tougher days. Yikes!

I read recently that consuming sugar in beverages is even worse for our health. Oh, boy. This made me realize even more that I needed to make a change. There wasn't a specific declaration of a Day One this time. It was sort of by chance that the day before Mother's Day I had not had a Starbucks drink and decided for Mother's Day I might just try to go 2 days in a row without my treat. Now the 3rd or 4th day is when I would encounter the withdrawal headaches. This time I did not. I suspect it was due to the fact that I had been going through a weaning process over the course of 2 or 3 weeks prior. When discussing with a friend how hard it has been for me to quit sugared up caffeine drinks she recommended I try weaning. That was the last time I tried to quit and I didn't take her advice. So this time I figured it was worth a try. I switched from the mocha frappacinos to the iced coffee beverage and it has roughly half the sugar. Also half the calories. Once I got used to this I skipped a day here and there. This wasn't the only thing I did differently. But I'll share more in Part Two.

Motherhood for me is no longer fueled by coffee. Just because it's on a meme doesn't make it true.