Coffee free living – a follow up

by Paul Goodchild on June 9, 2010

The delicious caffe latte

A few days ago I wrote a short article about caffeine and addiction to it – a story that many people share.  5 days ago I had my last cup of coffee and I’ve been attempting a caffeine-free life since.  It’s actually difficult to not take in drinks that contain caffeine if you have poor discipline in your diet (which I do it seems).  This article is a brief overview of the impact that caffeine-withdrawal has had on me so far.

Energy up and energy down

Caffeine has the almost immediate effect of giving you an energy boost.  You think more clearly, you feel that you can do more for longer, but it’s only temporary.  Once the effect wears off, you will reach for another hit, either in the form of caffeine or sugar, or both.

Why do we need another hit?  Because our body has just been pushed into fight-or-flight mode with the forced release of Adrenalin and when this high wears off, we feel fatigued and irritable.  What to do other than get a boost somehow, or have a nap – and a nap in the office, or wherever, isn’t usually appropriate.

Soda drinks are excellent examples of this quick hit – high in sugar and caffeine both.  I’ve had to be conscious of this during the last few days because I’ve noticed myself gravitating to them to fill in some energy slumps.

Since coming off coffee, in terms of energy alone, I have had highs and lows.  Yesterday I slept for over an hour from 4p.m., after only waking up at 11am that morning, and I never take naps in the afternoon.  In general however, my mental clarity and energy is greater and seems to be improving.  Far less often now am I finding myself needing to resist the urge to drop soda drink, or get a coffee.

To mitigate the effects of swinging energy levels I’ve also been trying to take at least 2 or 3 fresh fruit juice smoothies a day – at the moment they’re typically a mix of watermelon, melon and banana that provides me with healthy, natural sugars that are released in varying time frames – according to my rudimentary nutritional understanding.

This is also an important point to note: when hooked on coffee/caffeine, and I’m faced with a choice of a healthy fruit drink or a cafe latte, invariably I choose the latter, even though I know the fruits are tastier and better for me.  And that’s where in-part my point in the last article about choosing your own destiny comes in – if we’re being controlled by physiological drivers that will override our rational common sense and desires, then we’re going to make very sloppy decisions.  These poor choices are cumulative and cascade to impact our lives in ways we cannot appreciate.

What is the health cost over the past 9 months of me choosing cafe lattes over fruit juices?  I may never know.

Appetite UP!

For the past 3 or 4 days I can hardly stop eating.  It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like this and I know it’s down to the withdrawals.  I had noticed recently that I was substituting proper breakfasts and other meals by taking a cafe latte instead, with perhaps a croissant thrown in for good measure.  This works since the caffeine (and milk) provide the energy I need for a short while, but it meant that often I would crash and need a top-up that usually came in the form of junk food and/or soda.  Doing that almost daily means I’m persistently starving myself of proper foods.  Poor diet equals poor health, and I’ve been cheating myself in a bad way.

I think now that I’m eating proper meals more often and relying on them to sustain me as I come off the caffeine I’m eating more – even today however I can feel the balance returning and I’m not eating quite so much.

Peace of mind

There’s a certain peace of mind that comes with, for me at least, knowing that I’m doing something that has far-reaching health benefits, and that I know frees me from making poor (at the very least dietary) decisions based on what my body is craving.  I know that during this period I’ve been very easily irritable and I haven’t been enjoying myself quite as much as I could/should have.  I feel quite a bit lighter and a lot freer – perhaps it’s a little psychosomatic, but I’ll take it.

Like I said in the previous article, your mileage may vary, but I challenge you to give up coffee, and more importantly give up caffeine (and sugar) highs completely.  These can also come from many sources such as drinking soda/soft drinks like cola, teas, coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, pain killers… the list goes on.

Are you addicted to caffeine?  Have you broken the habit?  Any advice or experiences you want to share?  Please feel free to do so below – all comments and feedback are welcome.  You can even share this article in Facebook simply by clicking the button below!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Leisa March 26, 2011 at 08:24

Hi Paul,

I am just starting my caffeine free life – 2 days into it and its been hard. My head is pounding and I am craving the coffee in a big way. My appetite is going up which is good because when I had to do the food diary when joining a gym I was surprised I didn’t eat as much as I thought which was down to the coffee. I have just had a one and half hour nap due to tiredness, I don’t feel as refreshed as I want to yet but it is early days still. I am determined to make it this time after realizing due to my coffee habits I was becoming increasingly fatigued and sick which is no life at all.


Paul Goodchild March 26, 2011 at 15:59

Hey Leisa,
Congratulations! The first couple of days are definitely the hardest… isn’t it crazy how much effect it has on your body?!

I wish you all the best with sticking to it. I’m still partial to the odd latte here and there, but I’m much more in control and it’s nothing like before. Thanks for sharing and I hope you discover a whole new lease of life once you’re over the worst of it 🙂

Good luck!


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