Like most western people I am guilty of having a dependance on caffeine. A couple months ago I decided to cut it out entirely in order to help me reach my weight loss goal. I am a wimp with black coffee and I always add honey or sugar to my tea. So in order to cut down calories, I cut out caffeine.
Was it easy?
Not at all. My head ached with a dull and persistent heartache for days. I craved iced coffee more than I ever had before in my life. I was outwardly very moody and I felt mean during the first three days. I felt finicky with my moods and couldn’t focus on anything for the first while. Considering how bad the withdrawal was perhaps it was a good thing I decided to remove it from my diet. It’s been months and I’m still getting used to the fatigue I feel in the morning. The fatigue isn’t new, but without coffee and tea to dull it, it’s much more difficult to ignore and work past when I’m already grumpy first thing in the morning to begin with.
I still find it difficult to avoid drinking coffee as my fiancé drinks it every morning and for years he’s been bringing me coffees to cheer me up on bad days. He knows I am avoiding it so he doesn’t bring me treats which is good for my diet, but I do miss the little things like a coffee or a Thirsty Buddha that showed he was thinking about me. Getting an apple just doesn’t feel the same.
In a way it’s good I did this during a non-social time, as we aren’t going out for dinners with friends or having get togethers at home, as the temptation would be much stronger if we were. I do wonder if my resolution will hold when the world re-opens.
How have I been dealing with it?
A lot of water. Hydration helps reduce fatigue, not to mention just about everything else in your body. Now I do not love drinking water all day so I use Mio to flavour my water when I can’t stand the idea of drinking it. I love the lemonade and black cherry flavours. I’ve tried flavouring water with fruit but since I always use my Contigo water bottle (as seen below) having the fruit can gum it up. I have also taken to drinking a glass of Tonic Water before bed even though I cannot stand the taste of it as it can reduce leg cramps. I often wake up very dehydrated after a long night of sleep because I can’t sleep without a blanket over me, so I sweat out all night. Due to the dehydration my legs often feel cramped in the morning. I have found the glass of tonic to help reduce the discomfort until I can rehydrate.
Better nutrition has also done a lot to help me keep me energized. By changing my diet and cutting out junk foods I have had more energy. I’ve switched to a lower calorie diet with a lot of chicken for protein and rice for carbs. I’ve found that by reducing my sugar and fat intakes I don’t have sugar crashes, which has made it a lot easier to stay productive throughout the day and avoid reaching for a tea to perk myself back up.
Going for a daily walk has also done a lot to keep me going. It’s no surprise to anyone that daily exercise helps improve mood, heart health and reduce the risk of a lot of diseases, but I’ve also found that the walk helps me refocus and gives me an energy boost for a couple hours. I find the actual walk to be helpful to give my mind time to wander. I think in giving my mind time to relax for a half hour or so helps me refocus with more motivation.
Baking has also helped me a lot. While I am choosing not to eat bread, my fiancé loves fresh buns and I really enjoy making babka and buttered buns. The exercise of kneading bread and scrubbing dishes also increases my daily activity which is good for me. I think taking the time to do something I really love also helps keep me sane during this time.
I have also been following the mental health recommendation of daily bathing. I usually shower every two days, but I’ve switched to daily baths. I find taking the time to soak in the warm water while I do my skin care routine helps relax my muscles and unwind. I sleep better after a nice long bath and I feel healthier for it.
On that note, sleeping more! I used to sleep around six hours a night but now that I am not relying on caffeine I am sleeping between seven to eight hours a night. My theory is that with the increased physical activity and lack of caffeine combined with sticking to a rigid wake up time, my body is settling into a better sleep routine.
Would I Recommend It?
Yes I would. While it’s an uncomfortable transition, I believe it is worth the discomfort. While caffeine has been proven to increase the basal metabolic rate of adults and can increase muscular strength it does have some less than lovely side effects. It can worsen the symptoms of asthma, negatively affect gastrointestinal processes and in the case of postmenopausal women, it can rapidly increase bone loss. Not to mention the increase in dehydration by drinking diuretics.
I think kicking caffeine has improved my quality of life, but I don’t know if I will remain caffeine free forever. There is a time and place for everything, and should I really need to stay awake, I know it’s there. I don’t think returning to a dependance on caffeine would be the healthy choice for me so I hope to continue with this lifestyle.
I won’t claim to know more than medical professionals and caffeine has been proven to help with certain medications, so if your doctor recommends you use caffeine, please follow your doctors counsel.