90. The Decaf Coffee Bar

90. The Decaf Coffee Bar

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Decaf Coffee

Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.
 ~Jessi Lane Adams

My mother was diagnosed with diabetes when I was nine. The adjustment from an operative pancreas to a non-functioning one changed my mother’s life completely. A lifelong lover of sweet foods, my mother faced a constant battle against cravings for food she was not supposed to eat. At first she tried, so that nine-year-old me could enjoy cookies, ice cream, and candy at home, but it proved too much for her willpower. Boxes of cookies and pints of ice cream bought in the morning would be gone before I came home from school. She would be in tears from disappointment—over her own lack of control and for eating “my” sweets. I remember the day she announced that she couldn’t trust herself to have ice cream and cookies in the house anymore.

From the first time I got an allowance, almost every cent was spent on Skittles, SweeTarts, Swedish Fish, Life Savers, and Sprees. I loved chocolate too, but the sugar rush provided by a handful of gummy bears was tough to beat. Once I remember grabbing a handful of candy corn from a bowl in a doctor’s office, eating it on an empty stomach, and getting a sugar rush so powerful I had to lie down because the world was spinning so quickly. I never knew I could feel sick to my stomach and total bliss at the same moment.

You would think that the fear of getting diabetes myself would have curbed my behavior, but it didn’t. Eating that much candy did only one thing. It made me fat. By high school, I was 30 pounds overweight. The funny fat girl in a group of cool girls, I wanted so badly to look like my pals. Finally in my senior year I crash-dieted and lost the weight, getting voted in my high school yearbook as “the girl who was most likely to disappear” since I had lost 30 pounds in two-and-a-half months.

By changing my eating habits I was able to stay in a healthy range for years—until I got pregnant with my first child. Despite trying to remain in control, my hormones were stacked against me, and after my daughter was born I held on to an extra 20 pounds. Atkins brought me back down before I became pregnant with my second child. After my son was born and the terrible twenty was back, the battle began again. I needed a long-term plan—one that did not include artery-clogging and crash diets.

Complicating the battle of the bulge were my two beautiful children, who, like most children, wanted dessert that was not fruit, peanut-butter chocolate-chip granola bars, not the boring oats-n-honey flavor, and a candy bar, lollipop, or piece of gum every time they saw one. Believing that denying my children might create even-worse sugar addicts, I have opted to have some sweet foods in the house and to limit the amount they can eat. At some point they will confront the ability to eat whatever they want, and hopefully helping them make smart choices now at home will help them make smart choices later by themselves.

To lose the 20 pounds that remained after my son was born I cut out bread, pasta, and desserts. Along with exercise, it took six months of chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit, water, and no dessert to lose it—a fine lifelong plan, except for the dessert. A lifetime of no dessert would never work for me. I had to come up with a solution. It came in the form of a decaf coffee bar.

Every night after we eat I give my kids some sort of dessert. While they attack it like pit bulls, I open my decaf coffee cupboard and chose between regular, hazelnut or vanilla coffee beans. I grab my single-serve brewing filter and fill it full so that the coffee is strong and flavorful. Once brewed, I open the fridge and chose between milk, hazelnut-flavored milk, or vanilla-flavored milk. Finally I pick out a sweetener packet: pink, yellow, or green. Every night my options seem endless. Every combination tastes just a little bit different, takes about a half hour to drink, and the sweetness of it consistently curbs my craving. I love the fact that I get to make choices and my sweet tooth is tricked. I have managed to keep the extra weight off for five years and counting. Now, even when we got out to dinner I opt for decaf instead of dessert—unless, of course, they have bread pudding.

~Jennifer Quasha

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