Cutting Caffeine: The Agony and the Benefits

When I told my husband that I was planning to stop drinking caffeine in addition to not eating sugar and flour, he looked at me in horror and asked, “Are you on a mission to suck all the enjoyment out of life???”

My husband really likes coffee and carbs.  :)   Neither substance affects him much one way or the other.

I, on the other hand, was getting into a bad caffeine cycle. I’d have a cup of coffee to start the day.  Or maybe two if I was really tired.  Then tea mid-morning, and more tea during the kids’ nap time.  Or maybe two cups of tea during naptime.  I was just so tired all the time, you know?  I’ve never been a great sleeper, but I was really not sleeping well and always felt about to collapse from exhaustion, so I drank more and more coffee and tea.  The downside of that is that although it doesn’t impact everyone this way, caffeine makes me jittery and sets my stomach on edge a little.  I used to combat that by eating carbs while I drank it, to sort of buffer it in my stomach, but without carbs that wasn’t working well.

Then I read this interesting post on Cheeseslave (which, if you’re into natural eating at all, would be a good blog for you to read) about how and why the author gave up caffeine.  I decided to try it.

Cold turkey, because that is how I roll.

The first 37 minutes of the experiment were great!  Actually I did fine until about 10am on the first day.  Then the headache set in, and got worse and worse and lasted over a week.  It was pure agony.  I kept feeling like giving up, but then I would remember that I had already put up with this vicious, brutal headache for this long, so I might as well push through it.

I’m glad I did.  After that first week, I have experienced a lot of benefits from giving up caffeine, including:

  • I’ve actually had fewer headaches than usual.
  • I have a lot more energy, even on nights when I don’t get much sleep.
  • And speaking of sleep, I’m sleeping SO much better without all that caffeine in my system all the time!
  • I even drove eleven hours in the car alone with my kids to the east coast without caffeine and felt great, or as great as you can feel when you’re stuck in a van for eleven hours with three bickering kids. :)

It’s pretty freeing actually.

I might have some caffeine from time to time if I feel like it or am out with friends, or I might not.  In any case, now I can choose one way or the other.

Note: This is not to say that everyone should give up caffeine!  It doesn’t affect everyone the same way.  I’m just tossing it out there as a personal experiment I undertook, since I’m talking about other health-related topics this week on the blog.

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7 Responses to Cutting Caffeine: The Agony and the Benefits

  1. Heather L. says:

    I too can not tolerate caffeine and it still makes me sad thinking about it. i’m not a coffee drinker, but good tea is a passion of mine, and it just doesn’t come in decaf. Michael can drink pots and pots of tea all day and not be affected, but not me. :( oh well. The health benefits are so stark that I put up with it.

  2. Thanks for the link to Cheeseslave — what a great blog! And totally up my alley…appreciate your series this week. Motivating!

  3. Bethany says:

    I was going to send this as an email, but I couldn’t get your address to pull up, so I am leaving it as a comment.

    I do the no sugar/no grain diet and have been on it most of the time since last August. I do occassionally fall off the wagon, but I get back on because it is so worth it for me on many levels. Does it bother your husband that you eat like that? Are you able to find some dishes at some restaurants that you can eat or do you avoid going out to eat? Going out to eat can be what causes me to fall off the wagon (since I’m an abstainer!). Do you worry about hidden sugar, say in salad dressing when you are out? Also, what is your plan when you go to someone’s house for dinner? Would you make the exception there, for the other person’s sake? I’m just curious how other people do it.

    • It doesn’t bother my husband. Most of my cooking is meat or other protein plus vegetables over rice, so instead of rice or pasta I eat mine plain. I don’t make a separate dinner. I add flavor with spices, not with carb or sugar based stuff, so there isn’t a big problem at dinner. When we go out to eat, which is rare, I usually get something like fajitas that I can just eat without the tortillas and rice, or ask if I can substitute vegetables for the starch. If we ate out more, I might worry about it more. At other people’s houses I can usually find a way to take the protein and vegetables and leave the carbs, but I wouldn’t make a big deal over it because it’s more important to have good fellowship and if my eating gets in the way of my relationships I feel like that is a problem. Most people are very understanding and not offended if I don’t eat dessert or whatever.

  4. a. borealis says:

    Cheeseslave is great. :)

    My husband has the same issue. If he doesn’t have his morning cup of tea by a certain time, he gets a headache. Talk about slavery! He loves coffee too, but found that coffee sets him on edge and gets him all riled up (not to mention some nasty poop blow-outs). And without it, the headache was almost debilitating. Who needs that??

    But he makes a wicked cup of Earl Grey and, just within the last month, has been making me a cup along with his every morning. It. tastes. so. good. But I’m starting to fret over addiction, wondering if it will affect me horribly if I drink it every morning vs. every-so-often. Like this morning, when I felt a little funny. But then I ate a snack of cheese, raisins, and a pickle (yumola) and I felt just fine. Whew! I may resist the delight just to continue to be my own woman.

    Caffiene is a nasty thing. Way to battle through the week-long headache to rid yourself of the habit! That takes some steel ovaries.

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