How to Quit Coffee and Caffeine
January 24, 2019 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on September 10, 2020
One of the goals with my blog is to start talking more about my health and wellness journey.
It’s something I’ve shied away from in the past because it didn’t fit into my very “How To” style blog.
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But, the fact of the matter is I started cutting out plastic and living a zero waste lifestyle because I was trying to heal myself. I was trying to balance my hormones.
Plastic is known endocrine disruptor, but plastic isn’t the only thing that interferes with our hormones. Endocrine disruptors can be found in our beauty products, cleaning products, furniture, and even our diets can interfere with how the body regulates hormones.
I try to approach zero waste living through a holistic lens taking into account the body and personal health.
Today I’m talking all about how I quit coffee… and eventually caffeine.
my relationship with coffee:
I still remember when I had my first taste of coffee. I asked my dad for a sip of his coffee at Barnes and Noble when I was around eight.
He was drinking a Cafe Americano black, and my face puckered in pure disgust at the bitter flavor.
Fast forward to high school. I had to have been a sophomore, and we just got our very first Starbucks in North Little Rock, Arkansas. It was an exciting day, y’all.
I went with a friend and ordered my first coffee… probably a soy caramel macchiato. It was tasty, but I still remember how miserable I felt.
I was so jittery, shaky, sick to my stomach, cold sweats…. caffeine and I did NOT get a long.
Fast forward to college and we had a Starbucks on campus that I probably ordered coffee at mayyyyyyybe three times. I just wasn’t into coffee or caffeine.
Fast forward to working full time, working as an actor full time, and just starting my blog. I started getting pretty sleepy, and the coffee machine at work called to me.
We never had milk or sugar on hand at work so I just started drinking it black.
It started with an occasional cup only on the days that I was tired. Then it turned into a daily cup.
It was more than just a cup of coffee. It was like an afternoon ritual. It was my escape and a few quiet moments of peace and relaxation.
Then it went from one daily cup to two daily cups….
And, then it became three.
Then around this time last year, there were a couple of days I was so busy I didn’t have time to get three cups a day. I was lucky if I could squeak in one.
I also started noticing recurring headaches, and that’s when it hit me… I was totally addicted to caffeine.
why I did it:
I didn’t want to be addicted or dependent on anything:
Feeling those headaches scared me enough to decide to stop drinking coffee right then and there.
I do not want to be dependent on ANYTHING to “function.” I don’t want to feel bad because I didn’t give my body enough of a substance.
It’s just not in my nature.
my skin was lackluster:
After switching from a pretty caffeine free existence to two years of just drowning in coffee, I noticed some major differences in my skin.
My skin was dry and I was dealing with a lot of under the skin congestion that just hadn’t been a problem before.
I’ve always consumed a lot of water at least 64 oz a day but closer to a gallon. So, it wasn’t that I wasn’t drinking enough water, the caffeine was just counteracting a lot of the water I was drinking.
adding to my stress:
When you’re working a lot of hours and juggling a lot of problems, you can get stressed. Caffeine raises your cortisol levels which can keep your body a constant state of stress.
The last thing I need is for my stress to feel more stressed.
not great for hormonal issues:
Too much caffeine makes it difficult for the endocrine system to do it’s job by flushing magnesium and b vitamins both of which I struggle to get enough of!
It also increases the development of Benign Breast Disease… which is something I struggle with.
So at the end of the day, for my personal health issues it really isn’t something I should be consuming a lot of.
I think this post written by Alisa Vitti a functional nutritionist and women’s hormone expert to be very eye opening.
how I did it:
finding my root cause:
First I started asking myself, “Why do I drink this much coffee?” If you go back an read the story you can probably pin point a few reasons.
I like the ritual
I like drinking something warm
I like the comfort
fixing the problem not the symptoms:
Then I started trying to work on fixing the problems instead of the symptoms by asking myself why I’m those things.
I’m tired because I’m working too much, I’m not sleeping well, I’m not exercising enough
I like my designated coffee breaks. I like that decompression time.
I really like warm drinks (don’t think that one needs too much explaining)
It’s so comfy to hold a warm drink and take a few moments to relax!
actually fix the problems:
Then I started actually fixing the problems.
Implemented a strict bedtime and spoiler alert… not drinking coffee improved my quality of sleep!!
Instead of sitting on my lunch break, I started walking outside to infuse more exercise and more time being outside which makes you happier and refreshed.
I still took coffee breaks but instead of getting coffee would make a hot cup of water or herbal tea.
I really just like hot stuff. So, putting hot water in a mug and decompressing created the same feeling without actually drinking coffee!
I will say, I would occasionally have a cup of black tea, green tea, or matcha, but it wasn’t an every day thing.
I am sleeping better and my quality of sleep has improved. My anxiety and stress levels are more even and easier to manage.
My skin congestion has cleared up wildly!
The overt redness in my skin has disappeared and I can actually feel the heat in my face when I consume caffeine and when I don’t consume caffeine.
I mostly drink herbal teas now, but earlier this year I started doing one cup of matcha every morning for a couple of months, but the high levels of caffeine in matcha still triggered my skin.
So, now matcha is an occasional treat!
I don’t think cutting things out of our diet builds a healthy relationship with food.
So, I don’t beat myself up, I don’t harp on good vs. bad, and I listen to my body and allow myself to make the best decision in that moment.
Maybe, I’ll have an afternoon matcha or a cup of green or black tea. Hell, someday I might even have a cup of coffee.
At the end of the day, I’m no longer addicted to caffeine. It’s not something I HAVE to have.
But, if I want it, if that day comes, I’m not going to hold myself back from experiencing and enjoying it.
favorite herbal teas:
I love herbal coffee teas! Great if you love the flavor of coffee and the ritual of coffee.
Arbor Teas has one and I LOVE them. They’re such a sustainable company!
I wrote more about them on my post about making iced tea from loose leaf.
There’s also an herbal coffee tea at my local spice shop Oaktown Spice which I love too. Their jars are so beautiful.
Turmeric tea has done wonders for my skin.
The turmeric really helps to reduce inflammation and further brings down the redness in my skin.
I also really like this caffeine free chai. It’s recommended that you add black tea to it, but I just skip that step so it’s like a cup of Christmas!
If you know me, then you know I love a good challenge. So, I think you should challenge yourself to give up coffee for two weeks.
The first week is the hardest, but by the second I bet you’ll feel great!
Have you done a coffee or caffeine free challenge? How did you feel afterwards?
Hi! It seems like perhaps you were only able to view the abstract and not the full paper for your BBD link. If you’re interested, I can send it to you so you can examine more!
As a heads up: the BBD article you link to concludes "To our knowledge, ours is the first prospective study to evaluate the relation between caffeine consumption and diagnosis of BBD and our data do not support the hypothesis that caffeine intake influences risk of BBD overall." Their highest "caffeine use" group drinks more than 4 cups of coffee a day, and the lowest group still intakes about 2/3 a typical cup of caffeine a day. Even the association that they do find with the very specific type of BBD examined, atypical hyperplasia, and caffeine is not significant when you’re examining caffeine intake among women in the study. The only significant variable associated with BBD was high intake of vegetable fat (shortening).
I hope this helps! Let me know if you want me to send you the PDF.
Regardless, glad to hear that reducing your caffeine intake has helped you personally!
This is a really interesting blog post – I didn’t know caffeine could have an impact on your skin. I’ve been pals with coffee for about 15 years now. I’ve never really felt the caffeine buzz, I’ve never felt like it picks me up or that I need coffee when I’m feeling tired, I just love the taste of it. Over the past couple of years though, I’ve noticed that when I’m drinking more coffee it makes me feel more anxious – maybe that’s because I tend to drink more when I’m sitting at home all day doing work on my laptop, so perhaps I’m a bit more stressed than usual anyway. Last year when I was revising for an exam I was drinking a lot of coffee and I felt so anxious and nervous about this exam – more than I ever have in my life, and it freaked me out. I cut down after that and don’t even drink it every day now, so I’m going to keep an eye out for my skin improving – that would be a nice side-effect!
I had a somewhat similar journey. Coffee tended to make me feel kind of sick to my stomach, shakey, and in the long haul made me a lot more anxious, but I liked other things about it. I gave it up at the same time I chilled out my alcohol consumption for the same reason (anxiety management). I eventually gave up caffeinated tea as well. It has made a world of difference for my overall happiness.
Tried switching to green tea every morning (for my half hour out-of-the-bed chill)… The taste just didn’t work for me after a while. But lunch coffee break doesn’t take long to quit indeed 🙂
Just curious : don’t you get fresh turmeric in the states? It’s a got a lot more taste to it when just chopped (and a twist of black pepper to "activate" it), plus A LOT cheaper.
My no – caffeine winter fuel : probably two daily litres of fresh ginger turmeric lemon hot water x) haven’t had a flu in three years!
This is why I don’t drink coffee daily. And plenty of decaf. Don’t want those caffeine headaches.
That’s probably going to change when I go to college though…
For people considering to completely quit caffeine I found a very useful Quit Caffeine app, which is a great tool for the start – informing you about the health benefits of quitting, achievements and tracking all your statistics (how much you saved, how much caffeine you avoided etc.). I definitely recommend it! Also it is a nice source of motivation. its here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.michaljanecek.quitcaffeine
Yes! I had always loved tea but upped the ante to espresso in grad school, just my days on campus, twice weekly. But it was around that time that my occasional headaches started worsening, sickeningly, and getting more frequent. My doctor prescribed Fioricet with Codeine, which I took for years. Then I needed more Rx and more often, as my headache problem continued to get worse. Finally, after a decade of suffering, I had an integrative MD who guided a headache elimination diet and nixing the caffeine and Rx. Turns out I was getting rebound headaches from the withdrawal of each every couple days; it was a vicious cycle. No foods were the culprit (although additives sometimes are), and I enjoy a wee bit of chocolate daily, but I no longer drink caffeine. I am still a tea lover, however, loving adagio.com’s huge selection of loose-leaf. If only I could get my snoring, apnea-inflicted, restless-leg insomniac husband to get on board!