Caffiend No More

In late January, I read an article in Outside magazine about various relatively easy ways to improve your overall health – get more sleep, exercise more frequently, improve your memory, and so on. One of the items in the article described a straightforward way to cut down or eliminate caffeine consumption.

This struck a chord. I know a few people, including a close friend, who go without caffeine, and more personally I’ve been seriously dependent on caffeine – mostly via god’s own beverage, coffee – for at least ten years now, going back to when I was writing my dissertation in grad school. Over the past few years, I’d “cut back” to two big cups of regular coffee a day (or the equivalent: I love americanos more than any other coffee drink), but even being an hour or two late with the first cup – much less not having any coffee at all – would bring on a raging headache that often lasted for days.

I knew this wasn’t good, so I was pretty open to trying something like the Outside plan: over the course of a month, gradually alter the mix of regular and decaf coffee that you brew so that you move from 100% regular to 100% decaf. On February 1, I bought a half pound of regular espresso beans and a full pound of decaf espresso and filled my coffee tin with a mix that was more or less two-thirds regular, one-third decaf. When I used up that mix, I made a blend that was pretty much half and half, and when that was gone, I dumped the small remaining amount of regular into the decaf and brewed my daily fix from that – probably 90-10 decaf. Just last week, I went totally to decaf.

I was amazed to find that I did not have a single withdrawal headache. Even stranger, until I thought about it, my daily energy level went up significantly – at least after the first sleepy week. It’s stayed up quite nicely ever since. Not only is my overall level of energy higher, I don’t have those up-and-down energy swings that I’d accepted as “just the way things are,” and I get sleepy at what are for me early times in the evening. I guess I was more drug-addled than I thought.

Plus, decaf tastes just as good as regular, and when I do want a hit of caffeine, it sends me flying, like the performance enhancer it is. Rocket science, right?

2 thoughts on “Caffiend No More”

  1. I found the same thing. Gave caffeine up for this, my second pregnancy. Because I had an ultrasound during the first pregnancy right after a latte and the little guy was going nuts in there. This time I just phased it out over three days. And I have a lot more energy off the caffeine. And go to sleep at a more reasonable hour with less trouble falling asleep. I’ll probably go back to the coffee (and the wine!) eventually, but I love not being a slave to the caffeine. I save a lot of money, too, because now if I ever get something in a cafe, it’s by choice, not compulsion.

  2. I did this in a “backing off” sort of way — not total withdrawal — back a few years and, yes, it worked without any major headaches or anything. I think I’ll do it again — motivated by you, bro-in-law! I’ll do it over the course of Lent. I was just noticing, too, that I have managed to (inadvertently) stock up on decaf beans, while I only have a couple 12-oz. bags of caffeinated coffee left. Coincidence?

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