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Why I Completely Quit Drinking Caffeine

A couple of months ago I sat next to a woman who told me that she had completely quit drinking caffeine. She wouldn't even drink a cup of tea.

When I asked her why, she told me that as she had gotten older that caffeine had started making her irritable and generally unpleasant to be around. Her husband had told her that she wasn't allowed to have caffeine anymore. She said that after she had cut out the caffeine, all of the symptoms she had been experiencing completely disappeared.

I thought that was all very interesting, but didn't think about it too much because I didn't think it really applied to me. I am not a coffee drinker, so I didn't think I had a problem with caffeine. I also wasn't irritable or have problems with mood swings. It wasn't until later that I quite by accident discovered that caffeine DID have a hold on me that I never realized.

I have never been a coffee drinker, but in recent years I have become accustomed to have a Pepsi (or two) every day. I wouldn't call this excessive by any means. I knew it wasn't good for me. As I get older I know that I need to take better care of myself, and I know that the chemicals contained in colas in particular rob your bones of necessary calcium. Women have a hard enough time as it is keeping their bones healthy as they age. It seems silly to purposely be consuming something every day that would put my future health in jeopardy.

cutting caffeine

Recognizing the Addiction

Another reason I decided to stop drinking soda is that because over time I realized that I "needed" to have a Pepsi every afternoon, much like many people need coffee every morning. I grew to look forward to it every afternoon. Eventually I started to not feel well when I didn't have one.

That is when I realized that I was addicted to soda. After awhile it started to irritate me that I had let myself fall into this bad habit. I decided to try to stop.

Quitting Cold Turkey

Many people will tell you that you shouldn't use the cold turkey approach to cutting caffeine. Not being the patient type, I decided to quit cold turkey anyway.

When you stop drinking caffeine, you will likely feel okay for the first twenty-four hours. The second day and third days are the worst, and after four days most people will start to feel the pains of withdrawal going away.

Remember I didn't think I was addicted to caffeine. It was during the withdrawal period I realized just how addicted I was to the caffeine in the cola.

For the first seven days or so I felt like death, at least during the second half of the day. When you cut out caffeine, you will likely suffer the worst withdrawal symptoms during the time of day when you normally consumed it, which for me was in the afternoon. So from about 2:00 p.m. until about 7:00 p.m. every day I had a migraine and generally felt like I wanted to die. It was really that bad. And the caffeine in soda isn't really that addictive, right!?

After about a week I started feeling better, although it took about a month for all of the effects to wear off.

Although I only experienced headaches during my withdrawal period, other people have reported fatigue, anxiety, irritability, nausea, and even depression.

Many people say that you can cut out caffeine by reducing the amount you consume slowly, say 10% every two weeks. Lowering caffeine amounts in this way can possibly eliminate or at least reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Does Caffeine Really Give You Energy?

Many people believe that caffeine gives them energy and the ability to better focus on the task at hand, but many people who have cut caffeine have reported that they were actually calmer and more focused without the caffeine.

People who are caffeine free also report to sleep better at night, so that they feel more rested and awake in the mornings, eliminating the need for coffee to wake them up.

In fact, coffee makes many people irritable and jittery instead of giving them the energy they seek, but they drink it anyway, because their body is addicted to the caffeine.

Moderation is the Key?

After I got ALL of the caffeine out of my system I decided to see if caffeine was something that I could enjoy in moderation.

I tried drinking one soda and then I didn't have one the next day. I had no withdrawal symptoms and felt fine. About a week later I drank one Pepsi and the next day had one Pepsi. The third day I again experienced the withdrawal symptoms. No, I cannot have caffeine, even in small amounts, two days in a row.

Therefore, moderation is NOT key, at least for me. My body very quickly becomes accustomed to caffeine and will experience withdrawal symptoms without it. That's it, I'm done with it.

Keep in mind that some people are more sensitive to the affects of caffeine than others. I am apparently one of those people. I have noticed that the older I get (over 40), the more caffeine has a negative effect on me. Cutting out caffeine was a good choice for me. I haven't slept so well in years.

Copyright 2014, Creative Homemaking, LLC. This article may not be reprinted.

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Rachel Paxton
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