I LOVE coffee. I had my first cup of coffee when I was about eight years old. We used to visit my grandma on Saturday mornings and her dining room table was always filled with fresh baked goodies, sugar cubes and coffee! I was fascinated by sugar cubes. I would sneak them from the sugar bowl and eat them like they were candy. One morning my grandma poured me a cup of coffee with creamer and told me to drop a sugar cube in it. I dropped that beautiful square into my cup and watched amazed as it melted away. My first sip was heaven! I fell in love.
I didn’t become an avid coffee drinker at the age of eight. My mother would not have allowed me to wake up at eight and pour a cup of joe to get my day started. But it was a treat I had on those Saturday mornings with my grandma and I cherish the memories of sitting around her dining room table and listening to the stories she told. My grandma had the best laugh. I can still hear it in my head as I type this.
I think my coffee addiction really took hold my senior year. I would meet with my girlfriends every Friday morning before school for breakfast at a local restaurant. They had a cappuccino maker and back in the 90’s it was the coolest thing ever. I would sit and drink cappuccino and think I was so fancy and cool. And I was AWAKE! Caffeine gave me a little extra push to get me through my day and I loved it.
Fast forward 20 or so years later, and coffee became the reason I got out of bed every morning. I would set my pot up the night before and the timer would go off at 5:05 am. When I woke up my brew would be ready for me to pour. I could stagger out of bed and walk blindly to the pot to pour a cup of fresh of delicious energy. But things started to change for me. I was struggling with some things in my life and my anxiety had reached peak levels. I knew caffeine could be a trigger for anxiety, but the thought of giving it up gave me another level of anxiety I don’t even want to get into right now. I met with a doctor about my anxiety and she told me flat out–give up caffeine. Well, I stopped seeing her. I wasn’t about to do that. No way could I live my life without caffeine. It just wasn’t an option. The anxiety didn’t go away though. I had cut out alcohol because even an occasional glass of wine triggered morning anxiety, or so I thought, but I slowly started to realize it was the caffeine. I would be ok right away in the morning, but by the time I got to work I would have the shakes. I would eat something to try to settle my stomach but I still felt irritable. I was also crashing hard in the afternoons. By 2:00 I was ready to lay down on my desk. When I got home in the evenings I was exhausted and just wanted to sit on the couch and rest. I couldn’t drink any coffee after 2:00 to give me a pick me up because then I wasn’t sleeping at night. I would lay awake and toss and turn and my mind would wander to places of worry I didn’t know existed. I knew I had to do something. I had to admit to myself that caffeine was not helping me anymore. It was waking me up in the morning, but it was also setting the tone for a not so great day.
So I reluctantly purchased a can of decaf coffee and went kicking and screaming into cutting out caffeine. I started out with half-caff. I still set my pot to brew at 5:05 am, and set my mind to giving this a whole-hearted try. The first few days weren’t bad. The only thing I really noticed was that I became extremely constipated! Caffeine stimulates your digestive track and makes you have to “go”. After a few days of that debacle I thought about thwarting my efforts and diving back in to my full-strength cup of bliss. But then I talked to a friend about taking probiotics. Activia is everywhere promoting probiotics and how they will relieve constipation and set your digestive track straight, but I’m not a dairy eater. Dairy triggers all kinds of bad things for me, acne being one of them. Yogurt also has a lot of added sugars and I didn’t want to rely on having to eat 1-4 Activia yogurts every day to stay regular. I went out and purchased a probiotic from a local health food store and started taking it at night before bed. There are so many different probiotics to choose from, but the gal at the health food store chose one for me that was reasonably priced. I purchased my first bottle at the health food store, but found them cheaper here. I am not an affiliate for this type of probiotic, I just really like how it has worked for me. I no longer needed caffeine to stimulate my digestive system because the probiotic worked like a dream. I took it at night so I didn’t have to worry about any unnecessary bloating and because I didn’t know how my body would react to it.
It has been about 3 months since I have been caffeine free. Some caffeine has slipped in along the way, like when I’m at a function that has dessert. If they don’t brew decaf I’ll take a small cup of regular coffee because I don’t like having dessert without coffee (thanks grandma!) Overall the experience has been amazing. I increased my water intake to about 80 oz per day and I drink decaf coffee in the morning and all day at work. I don’t need the caffeine to keep me going anymore. Drinking a lot of water also helped my energy levels tremendously. I had read an article a while back that said a lot of times when people feel tired in the afternoon it’s because they are dehydrated. It said instead of reaching for a cup of coffee, you should drink a glass of water. Whoever wrote that article knew what they are talking about!
During my journey of becoming caffeine free, I also discovered Thrive. I am a promoter for this product, but I wanted to mention it because it has been life changing for me. Thrive is a supplement that fills in nutritional gaps. I have always been a fairly healthy eater, but I wasn’t feeling as good as I thought I could. I had a friend who was using the product and her results were truly amazing. I wanted to have the energy and positive outlook she had on life so I gave it a try. I started out just wanting to have the product for myself, but once I realized how great I felt I wanted to share my experience so I became a promoter. Thrive does contain small amounts of caffeine, but not enough to make me feel irritable or shaky, and I don’t ever get the afternoon crash. You can read about my personal Thrive experience here.
In the end, giving up caffeine was one of the best decisions I could have ever made for myself. I no longer struggle with crippling anxiety. My hands don’t shake and I’m not irritable like I used to be. I no longer have those afternoon crashes and if I’m feeling a little sluggish I pour a glass of water instead of a cup of caffeinated coffee to get me through my day. And thank goodness I can still pour that wonderful cup of decaf when I’m having a craving for something sweet:)