Kicking Caffeine to the Curb

Posted on October 19, 2011

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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
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