Want to listen to the article? Great--listen here!

This is One Thing, a column with tips on how to live.

I didn’t drink caffeine for the first 30ish years of my life. I began when I started writing my dissertation for my Ph.D., and started frequenting local coffee shops, where I’d do my work. I’d have two lattes in succession—sometimes with four shots of espresso each. The boost helped my work. Words flew; I felt brilliant. But then I’d crash. I also started getting anxious from the very high amounts of caffeine.

One day, after I’d graduated, I had to get my blood drawn. My doctor advised that I couldn’t drink my now usual coffee with cream and sugar beforehand. I had a horrible headache, and knew something had to change. I hated being dependent on an elaborate confection to function. I decided to quit caffeine cold turkey.

Everything in my life suddenly grayed, and it felt like I had nothing to look forward to—no morning coffee shops, no bursts of creative energy in a cup. Maybe this was a sign I really had a problem with coffee. But I wasn’t ready to quit. I went back to my lattes.

Here’s what eventually worked, years later: an extended off-ramp from fancy, rocket-fuel drinks. I got the medical advice that I actually could have black coffee on blood-draw days, so I aimed to be satisfied with just that. First, I stopped putting any sweetener in my lattes. Then I started ordering drip coffee so I could monitor the amount of creamer. Eventually, I got down to not needing any sweetener, and very little creamer. Then one day, I took the plunge and had my coffee completely black.

The first few days were awful. The first week was awful. But by week three, life became less awful.

Now, I love black coffee. Not only that, but I’ve weaned myself off the caffeine part, too. I began having ¾ caffeine, ¼ decaf. I did this for months. Then ½ caffeine, ½ decaf; ¼ caffeine, ¾ decaf; finally, 100 percent decaf. I’ve been drinking decaf coffee for about six years. I keep a tin of Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Organic French Roast Decaf at my house, but I usually go out and order drip coffee with free refills.

I come from a fairly ritual-less family, but this is one I’ve created for myself—my morning coffee, which I drink while I write like a maniac. Decaf coffee has a touch of caffeine, plus I enjoy the smell and taste; it’s a signal that it’s time to start the day and work. Now, I can effortlessly go for blood tests, and I’m also able to do intermittent fasting, something I’ve been doing for years, too. Drinking black decaf coffee allows me the positive aspects of coffee while keeping my body grounded. It doesn’t hurt that it saves me a little bit of money, too.

Link to original article