“I like cream in my coffee. And I like to sleep late on Sundays. And nobody knows me…”
While those things are both true, they’re also lines from a song – can you name it?
About five years ago, when I hired my first coach to help me with both nutrition and exercise, I got pretty strict with my diet. I practiced intermittent fasting, (click here to understand more of what that is about), counted out my calories for every meal, and measured all of my macronutrients.
It was the most time and effort I'd ever invested in my nutrition, and I learned a lot during those first few months. Tracking food intake, measuring portions and learning to measure those portions based on macronutrients changed the way I ate, and it helped me get myself back on track after being laid off from my full time job.
It was also during that period that I started to drink black coffee. (And asking the kind people at Starbucks to put ice in my coffee so I could drink it the same day because nuclear).
I continued drinking black coffee for the next year or more, indulging in half n’half only on the occasional weekend or when I went home to visit my parents, because my mom makes the best coffee ever. It’s Maxwell House, she makes it with a Mr. Coffee pot that she bought for 50 cents at a yard sale and it’s the best. Coffee. Ever.
Gradually, I started putting half n’ half in my coffee, not just on Sunday’s, but on Saturdays too. Then on Fridays. And then finally, I realized something:
My life is too short to drink black coffee. Black coffee is ok. And by ok I mean disgusting. Like eating coffee grounds. Probably. Not that I've eaten coffee grounds. Except that one time when I was desperate.
Have you ever read about natural highs? Waking up two hours before your alarm goes off and realizing you can nuzzle under the covers a bit longer, the feeling of brand new squishy socks, and for me, my first cup of coffee. With cream in it.
After suffering through black coffee for a few years, I finally decided that cream in my coffee is my non-negotiable.
Every day I have conversations with clients about nutrition, and I ask them to do the same things I listed above – track food – measure portions – and that information is often eye-opening. If you’re trying to stay at 1600 calories for the day and you’re putting 300 calories worth of sugar and cream in your coffee, then that is certainly something to pay attention to. But once you’ve educated yourself on where your calories are coming from – once you’ve begun to measure your salad dressing and servings of almonds and the tastes you take of everything while you’re cooking, it’s important to parse out what you truly enjoy.
I can forgo a second tablespoon of olive oil on my salad, I can be content with one small piece of dark chocolate - I'm willing to make other concessions. But not with my coffee.
Be honest with yourself about your quality of life - about the things that are important to you and that you truly enjoy - and, within reason, let yourself have it.
Because life is too short to drink black coffee.