Towards the end of July I decided that I’d go caffeine free for the whole of August. This was partly inspired by Dee removing processed sugar from her diet for July, and partly from January this year when I went without alcohol for the month. I reckoned missing caffeine would be more difficult than missing alcohol – and I was right! It wasn’t about just not drinking coffee, but not drinking or eating anything with caffeine in it, so “normal” tea and energy drinks like Red Bull were also off limits.
Normally I drink a lot of coffee, and I don’t drink the mild stuff. Dee calls it “rocket fuel”, because I probably have 4 or 5 mugs a day (on average) of the strongest coffee I can find, always black and always without sugar. I don’t use a spoon to measure it out, just pour it in the typical Norwegian way. Having spent a week in Norway towards the end of July, where everywhere gives you unlimited refills, I was probably as caffeinated as I’ve ever been.
August 1st brought such severe headaches and flu like symptoms that I had to go to bed immediately after dinner. The headaches and symptoms faded over the next few days, but I probably only felt well after about a week or so. I also felt permanently tired and worn out for the first couple of weeks, though perked up a bit after that.
So what did I drink instead? It’s been quite warm so I had a lot of squash and / or fruit juice. I also bought a number of speciality teas – I quite like the options provided by the Yogi brand – so had a lot of spiced chai, mint tea, fruit teas, that sort of thing. I enjoyed them, but probably not as much as coffee.
I made it to the end of the month in one piece, and hadn’t touched caffeine at all. I’m very pleased that I managed it, despite strong temptation from time to time. Did I feel the benefit? Honestly, I’m not sure. The headaches had gone, and some of the cravings had also gone, but I love the smell of coffee so stopping off in a cafe while shopping was tough. I’m sure that my heart was glad of the break: I probably should have checked to see what my resting heart rate was at the beginning of the month and at the end.
During August I treated myself to a coffee grinder (I have always wanted to grind beans myself) and a cafetière, so I got up a bit earlier than usual on September 1st and set to work making my first “real” drink for over a month. The image in this post is of that first cup, and it was worth the wait. What I hadn’t bargained on was the headache that followed, and the feeling of being spaced out for several hours afterwards! I only had one coffee that day, and only one yesterday, and am having one as I write this: whether I go for two in a day remains to be seen because I’m still getting a bit light headed as the caffeine hits me. I’ll still drink the “special” teas as well though, because I did enjoy them.