outdoor adventure, travel + healthy living


Living Without Coffee—Quitting Caffeine

June 12, 2014

Living Without Coffee—Quitting Caffeine

Those of you who know me, know that I’m kind of a bit of a coffee addict. I love my full French Press in the morning. I love crappy diner coffee. I love coffee at 11 p.m. in whatever “media center” we’ve set up. I love coffee mid-afternoon, I love bike rides to coffeeshops, I love talking about fancy roasts. I don’t drink instant, but that’s more a texture thing: the crystals dissolving sort of gross me out for some reason. But barring that, no coffee is too fancy or too basic, I’ll drink it.

2In fact, true disclosure time: while I don’t drink it much anymore, I also secretly/not-so-secretly love soda. The worst, lowest form of cheap calories. This caffeine/sugar addiction has been going on since I was in preschool. This was before people knew soda was really, really bad. And it got worse over the years. I drank a ton of it. In fact, the coffee thing started strictly to get away from it, without losing the caffeine. I’d quit for a day or two, but headaches and thrown off digestion would send me back. So what I’m trying to say is that in the past 23 years or so, I’ve never gone more than a day or two without caffeine. Until now.

I’d all but kicked the soda habit, but the coffee thing was growing exponentially because of that…

But 11 days ago, I had a stomach bug that pretty much knocked me out for two days. I think I drank a bottle of Gatorade the first day, and had a bowl of soup the second. That was about it. It wasn’t pretty. But one really good thing came from it: for those two days, and the day after, the idea of coffee was absolutely repulsive to me.

I didn’t want to even think about the smell—normally my favorite part. So, when Day 4 rolled around, I thought, “What the hell?” and skipped the morning coffee I was still craving. Because I’d started “detoxing” while I was sick, I actually wasn’t dying from lack of caffeine. The headaches were already over, and since my stomach was already wrecked from being sick, the digestion issue was sort of a moot point.

I thought be Day 5, I would be exhausted. Imagine my dismay when I was still up at 6 a.m. with no lingering fatigue.

By Day 6, I was sure the headaches would be back. But when 4 p.m. rolled around migraine-free, I was also shocked that despite a solid workout, I had no desire to take a mid-day nap. Normally, I don’t get to nap, but around 3 p.m., I usually really want to.

I kept waiting for the crash to come, but it hasn’t yet.

The weirdest part of it is that while I miss making coffee and sitting sipping it, I don’t really find myself missing the caffeine aspect. Maybe all the years of drinking so much of it in different forms made it so that it was barely impacting me. Maybe my adrenal glands are healing without it, and that’s why I feel fine. In fact, I feel better.

I sort of hate when doing something good for me, but less fun, actually feels better…

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be drinking coffee again, for sure. But I think for a while, I’m going to stick to decaf most of the time, and tea more often than not.

I’ve always tried to quit caffeine in the context of a diet: you know, the bold “I’m throwing out all the processed sugar” kinds of diets. They haven’t worked for me yet, maybe because I’m trying to do too much at once, and after a day, I’d be feeling miserable and deprived. I think that’s a big part of why the no-caffeine thing is working now. I wasn’t stopping for a diet, I was stopping because I was sick. And even after I got better, I wasn’t trying to quit everything at once: just trying to not drink two things that I normally love. It’s a little easier to give up coffee when you can still eat the coffeecake, so to speak.

It’s been 11 days and I have to say, it doesn’t suck. Nothing is really changing. I’m not super tired, I’m not grouchy, I’m just feeling normal.

That said, next up: tackling sugar. I’m working on it by degrees, but that’s not one I’m ready to jump into just yet. I think I’d need the plague for that.

Have any of you stopped drinking coffee? Were you surprised by your body’s reaction?

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  1. Molly I quit coffee in January and didn't drink any through about Easter (not because of Lent, but because I take meds for reflux and wanted to cut back on that.) I've realized that I really like and miss my coffee routine! I never drank a lot of coffee (compared to the average coffee drinker.) Just 3-4 cups (8oz cups that is) per day on average. I do find I get tired by about 2pm and a little coffee always seemed to help. So I've found myself buying a cup of coffee here and there while I travel for work or on my way home. That's coffee isn't nearly as good as what I make in my French press and it's more expensive! I'll probably cut back on the caffeine by using a blend of decaf and regular, but I'm going back to my morning cup.Brian

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