Caffeine Free

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Two weeks ago, I started talking about some parts of my eating habits that I didn’t like: one of the big ones was how much coffee I was drinking. In the last few months, I feel like it’s gotten a little out of hand. I’ve been a coffee drinker for YEARS, but since September I’ve gone up from one cup per day to about three. For me? That’s a LOT of caffeine. Some days I’ll have even more than that. There are so many reasons that so much coffee isn’t good for me. The biggest reason is that I put tons of sugar in one single cup. Like, 3 or 4 sugars usually. It’s pretty bad.

When I started writing about health once a week, I received a lot of comments about my coffee intake and most of you related to it, which I think is totally normal. Coffee is the most widely used *drug* in America, and apparently 450 million cups of it are drunk every single DAY. That is crazy, am I right? I knew that for my own health I needed to start cutting down on coffee, I just didn’t know how to go about it.

That first week, a lot of you mentioned cutting it out of my diet completely. I knew this sounded like a great idea, but realistically that just did not feel possible for me. Instead, I tried cutting one cup out of my diet per week. It worked pretty well, except I was cheating more than I would have liked. Whenever I was hungry and didn’t know what to eat, I just grabbed a cup of coffee; whenever I was feeling the least bit tired at school, I grabbed another cup. I think my addiction may have gotten WORSE- not better- since starting to keep track of myself.

On Thursday, I was back up to my third of fourth cup of the day, and I knew I’d just had one too many, but I just went with it. By the end of that last cup, I did NOT  feel good. I spent the rest of the evening out with friends and felt sick the WHOLE time. Like really, really sick. I’m about 90% sure that coffee was the culprit- my true love! How could it do this to me?

Anyway, the whole ordeal left me feeling sick up until Friday morning and I realized I needed a nice day off from caffeine. It wasn’t so bad to start; I replaced my usual two-three mugs of caffeine with hot chocolate- but the whole day I was just too tired to really move. I spent more time in bed than out of it, and I had the worst headache all day. Bright side? I wasn’t SICK. Also, I wasn’t craving coffee AT all. The hot chocolate that I had was perfect and I didn’t even think of coffee until I started falling asleep everywhere I went.

I woke up this morning and realized that my caffeine headache was back. I also realized that I was one day into a *caffeine detox* if you will, and I figured why not try one more day? So today was my second full day without coffee, and I have to admit it’s not the worst thing ever, but it’s definitely hard. I have a constant headache, I’m always sleepy, and my mood is all over the place.

I’m going to see how long I can go without caffeine. I’m still not CRAVING it- I know that it’s  more of a comfort to me than anything, and by substituting with another hot drink I get the same satisfaction. Now, if I can just find a way to get out of this withdrawal stage, that would be great!

I’ve read that caffeine withdrawal can be as tough to get through as with any other kind of drug because it affects your central nervous system; your sense of well being and your energy, in very much the same way. Even though I didn’t REALIZE I was addicted, I definitely still was. I have all the symptoms and all I want to do is have a cup of coffee so that I don’t feel this way anymore.

Some tips I’ve read that may help:

1- Drink lots of water to fight off the headache
2-  Take an over the counter painkiller (also for the headache, they get really bad!)
3- Take a nap to fight the fatigue (recommended is 20 minutes, I took a 3 hour one, but anyway…)
4- Try yoga, meditation, or some other kind of activity to help you relax!
5- Give it time. After a few days of intense headaches and annoyances, they’ll decrease in intensity. (That’s not super helpful for right NOW, but it certainly makes sense)

Finally, here are some good articles on the topic that I read! I particularly enjoyed this one. Apparently it’s not good to quit cold turkey, but since I’m not planning on quitting forever, I don’t think it’s too bad!

What do you do to fight off caffeine withdrawal? How do you cut back without cheating? 

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9 responses »

  1. While we were young PhD students we learned that caffeine causes birth defects in babies. So, the father to be should avoid caffeine a few months before he “donates” the sperm. Then his job is over. The mom to be has to avoid caffeine for a few months before she plans to get pregnant and then during pregnancy and through breast feeding.

    A dilute cup of coffee a day was acceptable, I guess because most of our colleagues could not get through the day without the one cup and our babies are alive and seem fine. None of us took more caffeine when we were considering parental breeding obligations.

    One thing all of us worried about is the spike in severe autism. There is some connection of severely autistic kids being born to “geek” parents in USA. Well, our colleagues qualified as geek parents. So, we are terrified when breeding. Our “geek” friends and colleagues in India do not have severely autistic children. What are the “geek” Indian parents doing differently or what lifestyle element is different in USA that is creating an autistic baby?

    I am not suggesting caffeine is an agent. I am simply wondering, what factors are leading to a very different life style choice with an effect in new babies.

    keep smiling but keep thinking for all of us.

  2. I have no answers because coffee has been my constant companion the past 7 years 🙂 I don’t really drink soda anymore, but I love my coffee. I never have had a reaction to caffeine (even when drinking multiple cups on an empty stomach)…but I’m sure I’d be unpleasant withdrawaling ha! Good luck!

  3. Lol sweety you always make me feel so bad! only joking but my diet coke addiction is completely out of hand, I literally can’t get out of bed without downing a litre. My boyfriend hides bottles all over the house to stop me drinking it, i’m like a smackhead lol!
    Good for you trying to cut the caffeine, once you get past the headaches you’ll be fine, and feel much more energetic!

  4. I don’t drink coffee at all, just don’t like the taste, but I do drink diet coke. For some odd reason, I don’t think the caffeine has any effect on me though. I have tried cutting down on the amount of diet coke I drink, so sometimes I will have one bottle a day (about one quart), and then I won’t have any for a few days. I don’t get tired or headaches from it, though. I can also drink diet coke and go to sleep right afterward.

  5. I think research is very divided about caffeine – some studies say a cup of joe per day is actually good for you.

    I didn’t drink coffee myself until I was 25 and then I started to drink it with lots of milk and sugar. I wasn’t so much worried about the caffeine, as I was about the added sugar… so I gradually cut out the sugar and these days I drink my coffee without sugar…. but it’s still half milk 😉 (when the coffee is strong even more milk).
    Have you tried to just get off the sugar and try to drink “café au lait”?

    In regards to feeling sick after drinking coffee, I have that effect once, but only if I drink more than three (milk-diluted) cups… so I guess my stomach is not too sensitive to it (but I know people who are very sensitive to any caffeine – black-tea included).

  6. Ugh you poor thing. I can relate! When I was at university I developed really bad insomnia – for a year, I didn’t get more than four hours’ sleep a night. One of the lifestyle changes I had to make to try and get some sleep was to cut out the caffeine: I used to have 6-7 cups of coffee a day! God, those headaches. There’s nothing like them huh! If I can offer you words of encouragement, it’s worth it. The headaches won’t last long if you stick to your guns. I was a bona fide addict and my headaches didn’t last more than two weeks, growing less every day. I used to drink herbal tea and even Ecco (blech) to substitute for the habitual comfort of coffee. Nowadays I never crave coffee. I only have it once a week or even less, and then I order half strength. And I don’t miss it at all. You will get past this withdrawal phase and then you’ll feel better, all the time. Promise.

  7. I really wish I had a problem with drinking too much coffee. I think it’s the better of the two caffeine addictions (soda). I am ADDICTED to soda, though. And I know how terrible it is for me, yet I still can’t get off it. I just love it so much!

    I’m thinking of using the new year to cement the end of my soda addiction: cold turkey! It’s scary, but when I did it before, I found out I was more into the comfort of soda than the actual caffeine. It is just normal for me. I think your fifth point is spot-on: you just have to get over the withdrawal hump. And once you do? Cravings go down and you feel so much better, not just because you’re not drinking soda/coffee – but because you DID IT! We both want that, right? 🙂

    Proud of you for doing this!

  8. Good luck lady! I’ve never been a coffee fan at all but giving up anything you’ve come to rely on can be very difficult. I wish you all the luck in the world! 🙂

  9. The best of luck to you! How long do you plan on going without caffiene? When I first gave up sodas, I was definitely lethargic and having withdrawal headaches too! But I substituted redbull and coffee.. Now I can’t go without a morning cup of coffee, but that’s about it…

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