Health, Simplify

Giving Up Caffeine…for coffee lovers

How do you give up coffee when you love it, yet are extremely sensitive to its effects? I’ll tell you how I did it, but first a little background.

I love coffee. Seriously, it has been one of my favorite beverages for as long as I can remember.

My obsession began when I was just a little girl and my Grandma would serve me mini cups of coffee so I would feel just like the adults. No matter that my Mom didn’t agree. When I would stay overnight with my grandparents, in the morning my Grandma would serve me a child’s version of coffee, all kinds of watered down, and then lean in and whisper, “Don’t tell your parents.” And, of course, I didn’t. It was our delicious, fragrant little secret.

So I grew up secretly slurping coffee until I was a teenager and the love affair matured with the introduction to espresso. Oh, how I loved the zing of espresso. I frequented coffee houses and gulped down coffee drinks to stay alert and on task as I studied. Like many others, I drank coffee when working the swing shift. It didn’t take long until I was addicted.

And I fully embraced my caffeine addiction.

Well, until I started to notice some side effects. After much denial I realized that I needed to stop drinking so much of the stuff.

So I stopped cold turkey. After two days of caffeine headaches that felt like an ice pick stabbing my eye and a vice pressing my head, I slowly started to feel like a fully functional human being again. And I was completely caffeine free.

Yet when I don’t have coffee, I crave the taste and I linger over the smell.

After awhile, I decided to start drinking decaf to satiate my craving.

Some people can switch to decaf and call it good. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked for me because I am extremely sensitive to caffeine, especially after going cold turkey for a couple of months.

For those of us with caffeine sensitivity, which basically means that our bodies are slow to metabolize the stuff, after one cup or less, our heart rates increase, our anxiety intensifies and we feel as wired as people who drink multiple cups. I noticed this happened to me even when I drank a decaf coffee or espresso. It was no bueno.

I learned that I had to give up caffeine altogether, including decaf.

It wasn’t easy, but I made it through.

Are you interested in giving up caffeine? Whether it is because of a personal decision or for health reasons, it is possible.

Here are some tips to help you give up coffee:

  • Use the taper off method. If you drink a lot of caffeine, consider reducing your intake slowly. Drink fewer cups of coffee every day until you are not drinking coffee at all. You can even replace a cup or two with decaf and then slowly wean from decaf. This method also seems to eliminate or reduce headaches for most people.
  • Going cold turkey is best when you have a few days to focus on you. If you decide to go cold turkey, consider giving up caffeine when you don’t have big plans scheduled over the next couple of days. Especially if you are a moderate to heavy drinker, the side effects may interfere with your daily tasks. Allow yourself to slow down and take it easy.
  • Embrace peer pressure. Tell your family, friends and co-workers when you decide to cut out caffeine. You will be surprised how many people will be happy to be part of your support system. They will cut you some slack for your general malaise and keep you accountable so you are less likely to slip up. Peer pressure is powerful. Embrace it.

Giving up anything you love isn’t easy, so be kind to yourself. Because I love coffee so much, I find that I often give up coffee for several months only to find myself drinking it again.

I thank my grandma for my love of coffee when I am savoring a cup in moments of weakness. When my heart palpitations return—as they always do—I give up coffee again following my tips above.






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