I’ve been addicted to coffee for years. I probably haven’t had a break from coffee for over 5 years. Even when I travel, I’m sick or when coffee is inconvenient, I find a way to get caffeine in my system before starting my day. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up. I do it because I enjoy the process of making my strong ass coffee in the morning. I also enjoy the taste of coffee and I know that if I don’t have my coffee, I will eventually get a major coffee headache. I also enjoy the mental clarity, focus, and energy that the caffeine provides me. I also consider myself health-conscious and most of the long-standing research about coffee doesn’t have much negative news about caffeine and coffee. On the contrary, it seems to be quite positive. So why did I recently decide to wean myself off coffee?
Caffeine High Loses Its Effect
Despite my love for the flavor of coffee and the ritual of preparing it in the morning, I’d be lying if I said that my primary reason wasn’t for the caffeine high. The problem with being addicted to caffeine is that like so many other drugs, the more you use it, the more you have to use it to get the same effect. This is very annoying, especially on the road where I would need to get a quadruple shot of espresso just to start my day. Even more annoying is if you’re at a conference and all they have is regular coffee. Downing multiple cups just to “wake up” is very inconvenient and bad for my bladder. After a while, the amount of coffee you are using just to bring yourself to a normal state of wakefulness in the morning didn’t seem reasonable.
Finally Quitting Coffee
Despite knowing that caffeine was losing its pleasurable effect and the inconvenience of having to hunt down and consume strong coffee every day for 365 days a year, I still continued the same pattern of getting hold of coffee every day. That was until I was struck with some random flu this year and was incapacitated and in bed with a fever. The first day I woke up after the fever I had no desire to make or drink coffee. I did, however, make myself some green tea with 3 teabags so I could stave off the caffeine headache that was sure to come. Drinking the green tea helped slightly but I could still feel the headaches coming. The next few days were tough. I had major headaches that mimicked the migraine headaches that I’ve heard about. These symptoms would persist for at least 3-4 days. After the headaches subsided, I decided to not drink coffee the next day and see what happened.
Doubts about Quitting Coffee
Another concern I had about quitting coffee was how I would perform at the gym. Oftentimes before morning workouts, I would drink a strong dose of coffee. The adrenaline and extra alertness would make me excited about going to the gym and kicking ass. I was worried that quitting coffee would prevent me from enjoying the gym and performing at my best, especially since many studies tout the benefits of caffeine and performance when exercising. Luckily, after quitting coffee and breaking the habit of drinking it daily, I feel my performance doing hard CrossFit workouts has remained relatively the same.
Benefits of Quitting Coffee
After breaking the addiction and habit of drinking coffee daily, there were definitely short term and long term benefits I noticed. The main benefit is the fact that the cognitive and physical benefits of how you feel and perform when you’re brain is on a caffeine high will be effective again. You can use these benefits when you need that extra boost. This could be before an important meeting, long work session, or strenuous gym session. You just need to break the habit of using caffeine as a drug every day so when you do use it, you will actually notice the positive effects.
Without coffee, your mental state throughout the day is more steady. I also find it slightly easier to fall asleep (and I only drink my strong coffee in the morning). Not having to worry about the next caffeine fix or headache you may experience if you miss your dose is also a plus.
The Negatives of Quitting Coffee
Quitting coffee hasn’t been all roses. I do miss the ritual of making coffee, smelling it then downing it. I’ve replaced this with a lower dose of caffeine in the form of Matcha Green Tea. I also think that caffeine helped me with my morning bowel movements but maybe it just made me have to go sooner with a sense of urgency. The extra boost that coffee gave me in the morning was pleasurable as well, but it was losing its power and its effects were short-lived.
Future Benefits of Quitting Coffee
Quitting coffee requires a bit of discipline. After weighing the pros and cons, I realized that I didn’t really have any logical reason to continue drinking coffee the way I did. A large part of this bad habit was based on my addiction to caffeine which I continued to justify despite the cons.
After seeing that I can function with coffee just as well as I functioned without coffee, I realized that breaking bad habits and instilling new less harmful or even beneficial habits carry over to other aspects of life. Whether it’s business or training, breaking bad habits and instilling good ones will always be useful.
The next bad habit to break, drinking alcohol.