Happier & Healthier Living - Giving Up Caffeine

February 26, 2014

I've done a video on this topic, you can watch it by clicking here.



But, if you'd rather read about this topic then please see below.

I am currently caffeine free, I have been since summer last year. I did some posts about it back then but I wanted to cover it again as I feel it is important.

Caffeine is, essentially and in my opinion, a socially acceptable drug. It alters our bodies and our state of mind but it is legal and not extreme so it is socially acceptable, it's even a proud 'addiction' to have - look at all the memes on the internet about 'Don't speak to me until I've had my coffee' and so on.

Let's look a bit more at this:


Facts:
  • It is a drug
  • It stays in your blood for 4-6 hours
  • Increases the release of acid in the stomach 
  • It is a diuretic
  • Only small amounts are considered safe during pregnancy
  • You can develop a tolerance (then require more to get a 'hit')
  • Hinder absorption of vitamins and minerals 
Possible Effects:
Caffeine can...
  • Raise heart rate
  • Make you feel 'jittery'
  • Make it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep or have good quality sleep
  • Cause an uneven heart rhythm 
  • Raise your blood pressure
  • Dehydrate you
  • Make you feel dependent or reliant on it
  • Possibly reduce fertility (in women)
  • Cause headaches
So you're thinking about cutting down or cutting it out? What can happen if you do?
Common & possible symptoms while detoxing/withdrawing from caffeine:
  • Sleepiness
  • Lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Struggle to concentrate/focus
Having said that, these are only temporary. The effects of caffeine will last for as long as you keep consuming it, the detox will only last 1-2 weeks.

How to quit your drug habit:
  • Think about all the benefits of quitting, maybe even write them down.
  • Anticipate, expect and be prepared for the worst... anything less will be great!
  • Be prepared for up to two weeks of hell, anything less will be a bonus!
  • Keep up your water intake to help flush out the toxins, reduce your headaches 
  • Reduce GRADUALLY, cold turkey can be brutal
  • Before you start - find a good replacement, something you will enjoy drinking in place of your favourite caffeinated beverage.
  • Find other ways to pep you up - a brisk walk, a dance to a lively song, etc.
  • Don't let one slip up make you stop trying altogether. 
  • Get a 'hit' from a green juice instead
The 'social' side of things:

One of the things I found difficult about 'quitting' tea and coffee is, what do you drink when you are visiting people or out with friends? I am (mostly) a stay at home Mum (I work part time) so most of my activities are in the day time (instead of evenings) and we normally drink tea or coffee. 

With close friends and family members I would bring over my own tea bags so that when offered a drink I would be able to accept without awkwardly asking for herbal or decaf tea. 

With other people I was not so close with I wouldn't go into any detail or mention anything - if I was offered a hot drink I would politely decline.

Luckily if you do go out with friends (or work) to a cafe or coffee shop most (if not all) places offer decaf and herbal options. 

Missing your favourite drink

Some people drink coffee or tea because they need a coffee 'hit' but a lot, myself included, drink it because they enjoy the taste of it. I also love the physical side of cradling a hot mug of tea. 



Before you start to 'detox' or reduce your intake find yourself a great replacement drink. If you're like me then this is not going to be easy! I find that a lot of herbal tea just tastes like dirty or ever so slightly flavoured hot water! It has taken me over a year of trying and testing to find some drinks I not only like but actually love. Now, I do not miss my sugary and milky cuppa, I actually chose to drink something else and really enjoy it. This did not happen over night, it took a good few months but it is worth it. I tried a cup of tea the other day and just didn't enjoy it at all! I used to live for my next cuppa and when I first 'quit' I really, really missed it... craved it, mourned my loss even.



Obviously taste is a very personal thing but here are some of my favourites to get you started in your search. I am not normally an advocate for 'expensive' brands, I do not usually believe that you get what you pay for but I have found that this is generally true with herbal teas. Almost all of the ones I enjoy are from the more expensive brands and the worst ones I have tried have been super market own brand, cheaper options.

I fundamentally disagree with the idea of paying more than you have to for something so this is hard for me to write! I can only tell you what I have personally experienced, which is that you seem to get what you pay for. I personally do not like any of the Pukka teas I have tried. Having said that make sure you give lots of different brands a try to find what is best for you.

Yogi Tea is probably my favourite brand, as they do my favourite ever tea! This is such a treat tea but still healthy and natural.

Tea Pigs are also a great brand - if you can afford them as an occasional treat I certainly recommend them! Sorry to be a typical  blogger cliché... but they are a cult product for a reason!

Twinnings are a good brand and easy to get hold of as they are in most supermarkets, I am not their biggest fan in the world but they are worth a mention.

Taste is such a personal thing - you need to find what you like and then use it to wean you off your caffeine habit!

I hope you've enjoyed this post, sorry it is so long but it is a big topic to cover! 

Do you consume caffeine? Have you ever thought about or tried to give it up? Let me know! I'd love to hear your story.
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8 comments:

  1. I'm SO glad you did this post - like sugar, yes caffeine is actually a drug. I have been caffeine-and-sugar-free for over a week now, I never had that much before anyway but I feel so much better for it! It had been on the cards for a while, and they are SO bad for you. I have been drinking dandelion and peppermint tea, and getting lots of juiced fruit and veg down me. Thanks so much for sharing :-) *runs off to watch ur video* xx

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    1. yay! good for you! Out with the bad and in with the good :-) hope you like the video hun, lovely to hear from you and good luck with your continued detoxing success xx

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  2. I quit caffeine once before and it was so hard but in the end I felt so much better and less tired. I found a love for tea only 6 months after that and then went back to coffee. Thanks for the product recommendations, I am going to try them out!

    http://amber-allnaturallybeautiful.blogspot.ca/

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    1. Lovely, hope you like them too! :-) It is hard to quit caffeine and it does sneak back in again every so often somehow! I've been 'clean' for a long time now though :-) haha! xx

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  3. I've been caffeine free for years because of how unwell it makes me feel. It makes me shaky and dizzy and it can give me palpitations. At work they're used to me. I just take my own teas and just make my own cuppa. Recently, I was diagnosed with a dairy allergy which has made going to places like Costa difficult as I used to drink hot chocolate (just a babycino as anything bigger than that gave stomach upset - now I know why). Their herbal teas are not very nice at all. However, my local tea shop sells tea pigs teas and they're lovely. Also, if you like the taste of coffee Barley Cup is a good substitute. Of course, it doesn't quite taste the same but it's quite similar.

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    1. I find that it affects me badly now as well, I was never able to have more than a few cups a day anyway but since cutting right back i feel ill if I have any now.. I wanted to have the odd cup of green tea here and there (maybe three times a week) but I couldn't drink it because of the caffeine.
      I agree the herbal drinks when you are out are awful!
      I'll have to look into Barley Cup.
      Thanks for reading!
      Rach xx

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  4. Yep, at my highest point of my caffeine addiction I was going through up to 24 cokes a day (I don't like coffee and energy drinks hadn't really hit the scene yet.) weaning off wasn't too bad until the end,going from 5 a day to a couple a week gave me heroin like withdraw symptoms for a week. I have ADHD, so my brain needs extra stimulants to put it back into balance, I wasn't on my meds so that made my addiction worse because it is useful to me in smaller doses. I still drink some,but it gives me a migraine so not too much now. I tend to stick to water.
    Sarah

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    1. woah sounds tough! Well done you for powering through and quitting! I think a small amount is sensible and okay for most people but my body seems to struggle with it so I have to avoid it.
      Thanks for reading and commenting - so interesting to hear about your story.
      Rach xx

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