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Giving up Caffeine | The best decision I ever made...

by - Sunday, March 10, 2019

Quitting the Caffeine

Back in October, I made the decision to cut out caffeine from my diet with the view of improving my health. I would generally have a cup of tea or two a day, the occasional coffee and the occasional can of coke. I would find that if I didn't have my cup of tea with breakfast of a day, I'd get a splitting headache that wouldn't subside, even with caffeine or painkillers. So whether I wanted a tea or not - I'd always have to make sure I had one for fear of developing one of those stubborn headaches.

And for this reason, I know that giving it up was one of the best decisions I ever made.


It wasn't the easiest thing to do, oh no - I had a fortnight of very painful headaches and had to stay strong and not reach for the teapot for a day's relief - it really was a cold turkey situation that quickly made me realise how dependent I'd become on caffeine. No surprise really, as I'd been drinking a minimum of one tea a day for the last 13 years. And then I realised that my headaches were because I was experiencing withdrawal, and that's really quite scary. 

As hilarious as the line 'reaching for the teapot to get some relief' sounds, it's not quite that funny... When you aren't a smoker, don't do drugs and don't drink much alcohol, you never expect to find yourself addicted to something. But now I know that I was, and kicking the habit has been totally freeing.

How I feel now...

Four months on, I'm super happy with my decision and don't have any plans to ever go back to my old ways. Yes, I will eventually decide to introduce the occasional coke or coffee back in to my diet, but when I say occasional, I really mean it.

To be completely honest, when it comes to tea, there's barely any taste difference between decaf and regular anyway, so what's the point in starting back again if I don't need to?

One side effect I never expected was having so much more energy and feeling far more awake throughout the day. Before, if I was having a laggy day at my desk where I couldn't keep my eyes open, I'd reach straight for the kettle. Yes, it would briefly pick me up but of course it would wear off a short while later. 

I couldn't definitively tell you that I have more energy in general, because you do get used to whatever becomes normal for you. But the main thing is, if I'm tired, I now know I need to get some more rest, not a big cup of quick-fix caffeine. It's all a bit more natural, and being in tune with my body, which is never a bad thing. 

And as I sit here reflecting on the past few months sans-caffeine, I'd say that there've definitely been less droopy eye moments at my desk and a wee bit more focus. Win win.

How to Quit Caffeine

So, my tips for how to quit the old devil bean are:

  • Ease in gently and don't go cold turkey if you can help it - given I generally had one cuppa a day, I couldn't exactly reduce that down gradually, and I think that's why those first few weeks were so tough. If you've been on the caffeine for as long as me, your body's going to need some time to adjust
  • Switch to a good quality decaf brand. There's no use trading in your lovely posh caffeine tea bags for some cheapo budget brand - you will taste the difference and may confuse this with the lack of caffeine instead. My favourite is Yorkshire Blend Decaf - I don't taste a difference at all
  • If you get withdrawal like I did, don't give up - it's only going to make it worse if you quit again later. My view was, if I'm going to suffer the side effects, I might as well get them out of the way now
  • Most cafes and restaurants offer decaf tea options, not just coffee. I'd never noticed decaf tea on the menu so figured I'd have to start carrying a supply of tea bags around with me - but I've yet to find a cafe that hasn't been able to do me a decaf tea which is wonderful
  • I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but hubby is. We've got a Nespresso machine and neither of us have noticed a difference when using the decaf pods over the normal ones - other than slightly less choice of flavours, but I can't say that's something I notice with my once-a-month coffee anyway!

The only thing I particularly miss is popping open an ice cold can of coke or Dr Pepper on a hot summer's day - there's just nothing quite like that taste! And I will, in future, allow myself to enjoy drinks like these that have caffeine in, but I just won't bring regular drinking of them into my daily routine - and for now, I'm sticking with my caffeine-free, artificial sweetener-free Appletiser!

So, if you're thinking of cutting back / quitting caffeine, I can tell you from experience that it's the best decision for not only your health, but your well being too. For me, letting go of all the dependency, the threat of headaches and regularly feeling shattered has had such a positive impact on my mental health and that's exactly the thing that makes it all worth it.

Of course, knowing that I'm looking after my body more and stripping my diet back to something a bit more natural is the greatest feeling of all.

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