For the past two weeks, I have been 100% caffeine-free. I've had digestion issues for a while, so I decided (at the recommendation of a friend in medical school) to try eliminating one potential aggravator at a time to see if I notice any changes. I thought I'd start with something "easier" than dairy or gluten, so I picked caffeine.
Some things, like soda and energy drinks, would be easy to cut since I don't drink those anyway. But then I realized that I will need to eliminate some of my favorite things, too. No coffee. No earl grey. No chai. No green tea. No other caffeinated teas. No chocolate! (Elie told me to be really strict about this) 😱 This was going to be harder than I thought.
I just finished the last day of my two weeks without the nectar of the gods and wanted to share what I noticed. Please note that I am not a scientist, doctor, or nutritionist, and none of my conclusions are backed by studies. These are just my own observations of my personal reactions to a lack of caffeine.
Caffeine withdrawal sucks, but I no longer have cravings.
I'd heard about the withdrawal headaches but had never experienced them myself. They kicked in on the second day, which just happened to be the Monday I returned to the office after a work conference, so I had to play catch up with emails and work from my days out of the office. Advil didn’t help. It was rough, but once I powered through it, I was fine. The headaches eventually stopped, and so did most of my cravings.
I saved a lot of money.
As a fan and former employee, I love my Starbucks. I also frequently take trips down to the Pret a Manger just outside my office. I put a decent chunk of change into my caffeine fixes. I didn't realize how much that was until I was no longer spending it.
I get tired more easily, but I'm sleeping better.
The afternoon slump was a difficult hurdle to jump over this past couple weeks. I've been going to bed a lot earlier, too. However, I have been sleeping a lot better. I wake up less frequently in the middle of the night, and I will often be fully awake before my alarm goes off. Physically getting out of bed before my alarm goes off is a different story.
I have better focus, but worse productivity.
Whether it was at work, doing a creative project, being out with friends, or just hanging out by myself, I was able to concentrate better. I was less distracted by wandering thoughts or external stimuli. At the same time, I wasn't as productive. It was more challenging for me to move from one task to the next.
I have been eating and drinking more frequently, but it has generally been healthier options.
In an effort to experience a placebo effect, I drank a lot of herbal tea and sparkling water which didn't help with the tiredness, but did help with cravings. I noticed that was getting hungry earlier in the day and eating more frequently - instead of my afternoon coffee, I would have a snack to combat the afternoon slump. I have also been making healthier choices overall, eating healthier foods and exercising more. This is a mindful change which may not be directly related to eliminating caffeine but is welcome anyway!
And finally, while caffeine may slightly affect my digestion, my issues remained over the past two weeks.
So, I will optimistically go back to consuming caffeine without worrying about messing with my system too much. Yay!
After this, I do plan on cutting down my usual caffeine intake (Elie is happy about this; she likes to remind me that dependence on anything is bad and that I shouldn’t be a slave to the covfefe). But that doesn't mean I won't enjoy a Starbucks or piece of chocolate every once in a while.