mum life, Mum time

April challenge: the results

In April, I set myself the personal challenge to cut down on my caffeine intake. Note, not completely cut out caffeine, just cut down. This was a big step for me as I basically live on caffeine to help plug the gaps in sleep lost thanks to the joys of a newborn (I wouldn’t change it for the world).

I realised something probably had to change as I was getting headaches or would find myself being overly tired if I hadn’t had a particularly strong coffee or two. Plus, most of the time, I was accompanying my coffee with a biscuit, pastry, cake or something else I probably didn’t need to eat. So for the sake of my waistline, not to mention my wallet, I decided to start weaning off the coffee.

My aim was to trim down to just a couple of cups of instant coffee a day, and easing my bank balance by purchasing just 1 or 2 strong barista coffees a week. Here’s how I got on:

Week 1 (Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th)
I started off lightly in week one, trying to limit my coffee intake at home first. On a normal day I would have 3-4 cups of Azera, in addition to any barista coffees and cups of tea, so my first aim was to knock those down to just 1. I’m happy to report that I pretty much succeeded from this week onwards. By starting in good stead, it became easier later on. There was one day (the Saturday) which I was particularly struggling with lack of sleep from a bad night with the wee fella, so I did have more than one coffee that day. But in all, I made a good start to the challenge.

Week 2 (Monday 9th to Sunday 15th)
Week 2 was all about tackling the stronger coffee. At one point in the winter (the long, never-ending winter) I was getting coffee at cafes or takeout from the likes of Costa at least once a day. Partly to warm up, partly to wake up thanks to an unpredictable newborn, I ended up drinking a lot more caffeine and spending a lot more cash than I probably should on something that last for about 7 minutes. I knew this new habit was going to be hard to break, but that it would be worth it in the end. I definitely found myself wandering aimlessly around shops to avoid going and getting coffee, but I also noticed I had more cash in my bank, and we all know that every little helps when you’re on maternity leave!

Week 3 (Monday 16th to Sunday 22nd)
This week, all Travis classes started back after the Easter break, and we started swimming lessons for the first time (see April firsts for more on that) so I was worried I’d need more energy to get by. Did someone say caffeine dependency? In actual fact I found that because we were always busy in the day, I didn’t have time to go out of my way to get a takeout coffee or even really to think about coffee too much. I’d say this was probably my best week challenge wise, despite having more on and a more unsettled baby this week (he had a bad cough and cold which was tailing off and leaving some nappy issues!).

Week 4 (Monday 23rd to Sunday 29th)
I’d say this was where things started to get difficult again. I’d been on my best behaviour when Craig and I were away for the weekend, even opting for tea after a wee trek up the Nevis Range, but I somehow started to falter a bit. I was trying my best not to get takeout coffee but I most definitely didn’t manage to get down to just 1 or 2 a week. One thing I was proud of however, was returning to work on the Tuesday for a keep in touch day, and managing not to have a single coffee all day. I think it probably played havoc with me though – that and a sleepless night with Travis before work meant I slid rapidly downhill as the week progressed. By the Friday I’d had about 3 coffees (2 barista ones) by lunchtime.

I may not have gotten completely to the target is set myself for my April challenge, but it’s clear I was consuming too much caffeine beforehand and I’m glad I’ve managed to cut that down quite substantially. I found that not only did my bank balance take kindly to the less frequent coffee stops, I also found myself losing more weight than I had done in any month since having Travis. In fact, since my exercise stayed the same (if not less) in April as in previous months, and since I made no conscious effort to make any other changes to my diet, I can only assume it was the lack of caffeine that contributed to the weight loss. With the lighter nights coming in and warmer days, I doubt I’ll crave coffee as much, as it’s not my go-to for a cool-down drink. That said, I did just purchase my first iced latte of the year today so hopefully I manage to keep a reign on that!

food

Nescafe Gold – a pregnancy treat with no need to cheat

Caffeine (or lack of) is one of the first things mentioned by a midwife, well-meaning mother, and even complete stranger when it comes to pregnancy. Whilst it’s preferable to scale back the shots and dial up the decaf, us preggos are still allowed a little bit of caffeine in a day.

nescafe-gold-caramel-latte

And what better treat to enjoy on occasion than Nescafe‘s new Gold range?  I was given a variety of these for free to review and report back on – the unsweetened cappuccino, the caramel latte and the double mocha. Admittedly, it’s no Costa or independent roasted coffee, but a girl will take what she can get within the 200mg limit. Plus, we all need treats to brighten up the work day and what better than one which can be made quickly and easily in the afternoon tea round?

 

DIY flavoured latte

The instructions on each are pretty simple – boil the kettle, let it cool to about 85 degrees (or, like me, wing it after about 5-10 mins in absence of a thermometer) and pour the boiling water over the pre-portioned sachet of Nescafe Gold. The perfect caramel latte it seems is simple; stir vigorously for a minute or so, wait 20 seconds then go back and stir some more. Leave to let the milk settle and there you have it, a quick, easy, homemade latte fix, right?

The good news is that it definitely didn’t taste as awful as some of the other powdered or packet coffees available. In fact, after a couple of tries, it’s actually pretty good! Once you get the stirring action, consistency and standing time right, you feel like you’ve made your own shop-bought latte!

nescafe-gold-mug-latteThe caramel latte was without a doubt my favourite from the bunch that I was given to try. Don’t get me wrong, the unsweetened cappuccino was a great quick-fix and something I could see myself drinking regularly throughout the day (when allowed higher daily doses of caffeine!) but for a real treat, the caramel latte was a winner. The double mocha was certainly an indulgence, but not something I’d probably go back to until the wintry weather kicks in and I’m in need of both a heat and a chocolate fix.

The new Nescafe Gold range is definitely something I’ll be going back to buy again, especially now my trips to Costa and other coffee shops will be few and far between with a newborn to look after soon!