Caffeine has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. In fact, I starting drinking coffee on an almost daily basis at just eight years old. I am not a doctor and have not done any research, but I’d like to share my experience with caffeine. Specifically, how I turned what was a personal crutch into a tool. Today I drank a strong green tea – my first significant caffeine intake in over two weeks. After going through caffeine withdrawal and getting used to life without it, the one cup had a significant impact.
In the 20 years that I’ve enjoyed caffeine on a daily basis, I wasn’t always super dependent on it. It was a habit to drink a cup a day in the morning. If I skipped it, I was usually just fine. If I drank two or three, I didn’t feel any different. This changed when I moved to America and got an office job in NYC. My life began to revolve around coffee. I would drink a large cup first thing in the morning. Then first thing in the office. Then I’d refill my cup two, three or even four times. It became like water to me.
I wasn’t craving the caffeine as much as taking a coffee break became a way to socialize with my colleagues. Even after I switched to working remote, I kept up my caffeine habit. I was drinking at least two cups a day but now I’d get a headache in the evening if I didn’t have the second or sometimes third cup. This didn’t scare me because there aren’t actually too many coffee-related health problems that concerned me. I could drink a cup of coffee at 6PM and sleep like a baby at 9PM. I embraced my love for coffee by trying different kinds. I even sampled weasel poop coffee in Vietnam and Bali!
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Why Did I Give Up Coffee & Caffeine?
There was no pivotal moment that made me think, ‘oh wait, I am addicted to caffeine.’ I decided to take a break from coffee when I bought a coffee alternative called MUD\WTR. It tasted amazing and only had one seventh of the caffeine. I made a video, reviewed it and loved it. But I didn’t replace my morning coffee with it; I was drinking it in addition to my coffee because of its shroomy health benefits. At the same time I was writing articles about coffee alternatives on Youth Time Magazine.
One day I simply thought, why not try what I’ve been preaching? And so, I skipped my morning cup of coffee. By noon I had a crippling headache that had me laying uselessly on the sofa. I wouldn’t have been able to get through a work day. Day two wasn’t much better. Now I was worried… how had I become this dependent on coffee? And why? Coffee never gave me that much of an energy burst, at least not one that I noticed. So how did I start drinking 5+ cups a day?
Caffeine as a Tool
By day three, I felt better and I even ran a virtual 5k race. Although I love MUD\WTR, two weeks in, I still don’t feel a huge energy burst. But I never consciously felt one from coffee either. Since I’m trying to have a dry January and coffee was off the table, I filled my cabinets with teas! Yesterday afternoon, I unknowingly drank a cup of very caffeinated tea. I felt the effects immediately. My heart rate sped up, my entire body felt warmer and apologies for the TMI, but I had to poop immediately.
I actually felt the boost of energy that my daily cup of coffee was supposed to give me. Riding the caffeine-induced energy wave, I ran a 5k and felt the urge to be extra productive. Even now, three hours later, I feel extremely alert. I wasn’t planning on drinking much of any caffeine at all, wary of it becoming a crutch for me. Instead, I discovered that if I don’t enjoy it every day, it can become a powerful tool when needed.
I’m not suddenly an anti-coffee person, although I don’t plan on drinking it regularly. Unknowingly, I discovered how to make the most of a caffeinated beverage when I need it. It makes a lot of sense in hindsight that indulging in caffeine every day lessens its impact. Just like any other drug or substance, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Giving up coffee didn’t make me like it any less. On the contrary, I have never appreciated a cup of coffee more than I do today. I just need to stay mindful about how and when I use it so that I can reap the full rewards that caffeine has to offer.
Disclaimer: Please speak to your doctor before making any extreme changes to your diet. This article is just based on my person experience and giving up caffeine entirely and using any alternatives may effect everyone differently.