Sunday, January 20, 2013

Giving Up Coffee

I mentioned in my last post that I had given up coffee as part of my “cleaning things up” program. If you are like me a few weeks ago, you’ll probably think, “That’s nice for you, but that’s not something I’ll ever do.” And that’s fine. In fact, I have been drinking coffee for 25 years, and it has never occurred to me to give it up completely.

I have successfully cut back to drinking one small cup a day several times over the past 25 years, but giving it up completely was never on the agenda until recently. Coffee has reported benefits, and I actually think drinking it in moderation (like most things in life) is fine and can even be beneficial.

When I was drinking one cup a day, I didn’t see a problem with it. The problem started when I increased my coffee intake more and more. Somehow over a stressful period in my life, I had increased it to up to five, or even six, big cups a day. I know. Not good.

How did I give up coffee?

Over the holidays, I had already cut back from five cups to about three cups, but I still needed those three cups desperately. When I decided to let go of coffee completely, I did it rather quickly, and I did have very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Here is what I did:

  • Day 1: Cut back to 1 cup of coffee – I had a bad headache all day and was in a daze
  • Day 2: 1 cup of 1/2 coffee 1/2 decaf – Again, I felt miserable
  • Day 3: 1 cup of black tea – You guessed, it, I felt miserable
  • Day 4: No caffeine at all – I didn’t feel great, but I had learned that going for a walk helped a lot

What helped when giving up coffee?

  • Finding other warm beverages I enjoy helped a lot – I now start my day with warm lemon water and love it. If you had told me this a few weeks ago, I would have laughed. I also enjoy all sorts of herbal teas. I had known for years that one of the draws of coffee for me was the ritual of sitting down with a warm beverage. Other warm beverages work just as well as coffee for the ritual.
  • Going for a walk really helped with headaches.
  • I realized that the headaches would eventually go away, and things got a lot better on the second day without caffeine. By the third day without caffeine they were gone.

How do I feel without caffeine?

I am amazed by how well I feel without caffeine, and I truly don’t need it at this point. In fact, I don’t even want it anymore! In the past, I would stumble out of bed and make some coffee right away. I needed that cup so desperately, and if I didn’t get it, an ugly headache would soon rear its head. I was truly dependent on it, and I couldn’t imagine getting out of bed or functioning without it.

Now I wake up ready for the day, and I am much more alert right away. No more crawling into the kitchen, unable to function. I really like that feeling. The alertness also lasts throughout the day, which is wonderful.

Will I drink coffee again?

I don’t have plans right now to getting back to coffee. I don’t like the idea of being addicted to a substance that makes me feel so miserable if I stop drinking it. I also love feeling so alert throughout the day. Never say never, but at this point, I don’t have any plans on drinking coffee again.

Questions: Do you drink coffee? If so, how much? Have you ever given it up or thought of giving it up completely?

Be well,