Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kicking Caffeine to the Curb

My husband has been caffeine free for about two months now. It’s been a tough go – first with the very real withdrawal effects and then with developing new habits and overcoming the cravings. He reports his sleep quality is much better and he feels less anxious. I’m really proud of him!

I, too, drink coffee but have never considered myself dependent. I only drink about 8oz Monday through Friday and never crave it on the weekends. So when I made the decision to join my husband in his avoidance of caffeine, I didn’t think I would have any issues.

Ha!

I’m dependent. Soooo addicted.

Here we are two months after my first statement of solidarity and I’m only now ready to give up my cup of joe. 

Even though my usual intake is about 8oz and it's usually done by 9:00 AM, I find myself tossing and turning at 10:00 PM unable to fall asleep. I’m tense, jittery and end up exhausted leading right back to the java juice the next morning.

A moderate amount of caffeine is considered 200 to 300 mg daily which is about 2 – 4 cups of coffee. Drinking more than 600 mg daily, ie. more than 4 cups of coffee or other sources (check the back of that Red Bull!) can be harmful and lead to insomnia, irritability, elevated heart rate  and more.

Check. Check. And Check. I’m clearly a lightweight. The heavy caffeine intake symptoms are what I experience. Logically, why would I continue ingesting something that makes me feel so horrible? Not only that, caffeine is the arch nemesis of IBS. My stomach is usually in knots for the entire week. No thank you. I’m done.

In addition, caffeine can elevate blood pressure, lead to ulcers and dehydration (it’s a mild diuretic) and stimulate stress hormones. I certainly don’t need more cortisol coursing through my system.

I’ve gone cold turkey since I don’t drink that much a day to wean down. Today I ingested a lot of sugar but I know the cravings will pass. I’m working to get to bed early tonight and tomorrow start practicing walking outside, stretching, deep breathing and increasing my water intake.

If you’re considering quitting or cutting back – good for you! You may choose to decrease your intake by a cup daily, switching to decaf or mixing decaf into your regular brew. Also beware of other caffeine sources such as chocolate and certain medications.

No headaches so far. I'll keep you updated!

Are you a caffeine lover?

- Kareen, RD

7 comments:

Thandi said...

LOL.All the best!No, I'm not a caffeine lover.Being SDA,it was drummed into us from 'birth' that coffee is taboo.Strangely enough,it was only when I was in my late teens that I realised that Coke had caffeine too..so that left my diet.Then again I wasn't really into fizzy drinks anyway so I didn't have to deal with whtdrawal.Take care and your post just made me laugh!Thanks!

Naturaleza said...

Yes. I love a cuppa. But...I am not addicted. I was once the type who would take up to 3 cups some days, all by lunch. Especially when I studied in the U.K. ut, I slowly worked off of it. The smell alone would make me happy. But, with patience and time it dissipated. Now, I can pass coffee shops and the urge isn't there to partake. Don't even like Coke.
You two can do it!

FitandFabulous said...

Love my coffee, but I love sleep MORE. So, keep both caf and decaf and usually mix if I have to do the caf kind.

My preferred time to use the hard stuff is right b4 a workout. I need the extra beta-oxidation, thanks.

Have got back on the regular green tea program which has some, but much less caffeine. Trying to get back to the habits that had me feeling sooooo good that first couple years after surgery.

I'm excited to discuss our blendtec recipes soon......

Leslie R. said...

I gave up coffee about two months ago for a cleanse. It was so awful around day 3, and I've had a few cravings, but here I am feeling great 2 months later. I drink green smoothies and tea, and plan to keep it that way!

Also-Just wanted to let you know you get one of the Sambazon smoothie coupon packs on my blog. Please let me know your address. Thanks! :)

Kareen said...

@Thandi - I, too, was raised with a fear of caffeine in my SDA home. I didn't start until a couple of years ago after moving to Cali. So sad.

@Naturaleza - Thanks for the encouragment!

@F&F - Yeah, the caffeine is excellent for a workout boost. Definitely looking forward to sharing Blendtec recipes :)

@Leslie - Good for you! I'm planning a detox soon so I know the habit will be kicked soon! I'll send you my address - thanks!

Mizpah Matus said...

I was a serious caffeine addict and the only reason I was motivated enough to give it up was when I started experiencing severe arrhythmia.

Even still I was sneaking in half a cup here and there and pushing my limits because I loved coffee so much!

Now I stay away from it completely but still get a little caffeine from green tea and cacao every now and then, but they don't seem to have the same negative effect on me as coffee.

There are some of us who are more sensitive to caffeine. For me I was a heavy user for many many years and then I suddenly developed a sensitivity overnight. Many people also become more sensitive when they switch to eating raw.

Congratulations on your discipline and success!

Kareen said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, Mizpah. Congrats to you for being caffeine free. Glad to know I'm not the only one who is sensitive.