How I Overcame Caffeine Addiction
For years, I have loved waking up in the morning to the sound and aroma of hot coffee dripping in my kitchen. I couldn’t wait to sit down and sip as I started my day, my husband and daughter Emma still fast asleep.
It was my time to enjoy every drop of delicious freshly brewed organic coffee with my homemade almond milk. As soon as the coffee would hit my tongue, I started to perk up.
That morning buzz lit me up and electrified my energy like a light switch! I don’t drink alcohol, so coffee was the one beverage I LOVED and craved. It’s a nootropic. It’s been shown to have many health benefits in moderation. Yet for me, I wasn’t fully accepting the reality of what it was doing to my health.
Those glorious mornings with my cup of joe started to wreak havoc on my system a long time ago. It became something I couldn’t ignore. For one, my adrenals were spent and my cortisol ran high. I would feel exhausted by 4pm, crashing from the swing in energy. My PMS included feeling very emotional and the food cravings were miserable. The constant “jolt” of coffee each day was negatively impacting my natural cycle.
Intuitively, I knew caffeine was the culprit. I’m sensitive and needed to honor what my body was telling me. I was dreading saying goodbye. Until a voice inside me said “I know there will be a bright light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to start.”
I planned it a month in advance. I chose the follicular phase of my cycle so my hormones and my mood would naturally be in a better place for detox. I took 4 days off of work and life. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel and I enlisted my tribe for support and accountability. I also decided I needed to go cold turkey. I had failed at weaning countless times prior, plus I knew there was no escaping the feeling of true withdrawal…so I just went for it.
After just 1 week off caffeine of any kind, including coffee, I started to see the light and felt the veil lifting. It’s still hard! I am still craving and missing it, but I can already see the difference it’s making.
I’m restoring my body’s sense of natural balance and calm without suppressing my ability to feel tired and without igniting my nervous system with the artificial jolt. I’m feeling more grounded, at peace, and sleeping better. The acid isn’t taking its toll on my insides either. Remember, I’ve experienced the pain of stomach ulcers!
Here are my steps to help YOU if you are finally ready to let go of caffeine addiction! You are not alone – I’m here for you and would love to support you on your journey. I help clients successfully build new relationships with what they consume all the time and it’s the most rewarding work we can do for ourselves. 🙂
Step 1 – If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Plan out when you’re going to do it, take some days off of work (or schedule the initial few days for the weekend when you can nap), order healthy caffeine substitutes like herbal/adaptogenic tea to have in place of your ritual, and have plenty of your favorite healthy meals and snacks you know you love at the ready. Caffeine tends to suppress cravings and appetite, so I knew my cravings might rebound and needed “win/win” options.
I also grabbed supplements and ramped up my vitamin shots to aid in detox and neurotransmitter support. Self-care tools like cryo and infrared sauna were also a must for me (Restore Chelsea offers both in NYC and you can get 20% off with code NAO), and a list of good TV to watch or books to read for some good distraction. I planned for the worst and I am so glad I did! If I had just cut cold turkey without any self-care plan, it never would have worked.
Step 2 – Be gentle with yourself and reach out for support. The first day, I allowed myself to stay in bed. I felt ALL The sensations from brain fog to headaches to extreme fatigue. My body aches got so severe on the 2nd day that I couldn’t sleep. It felt like a really bad flu without the fever. The body aches started to become more manageable at day 4 and 5, but still continued intermittently. I took a little bit of Advil to mitigate the aches and pains but otherwise, I made it through the worst of it.
This isn’t to scare you, just to prepare you. I had been using caffeine for many years, so I knew withdrawal might be tough for me. My colleague, who also quit caffeine at the same time, didn’t experience it the same way I did. She had already weened down to less than 200mg of caffeine a day so she felt tired and the initial neurotransmitter shifts that occur, but only a minor headache for a day. I wanted to make mention that your unique body may respond differently but you still need to give it time and prepare regardless! I coached her and she’s SO glad she too made a game plan like I did for extra naps, rest, and healthy foods.
My friends and family kept cheering me on and checking in on me – I’m so grateful. It kept my spirits up and gave me faith that this too shall pass. It gave me the strength to keep going and not give in to temptation.
Step 3 – Listen to podcasts on addiction and read supportive books. POWERFUL. I learned so much about the brain in this process, and it’s comforting to know I felt so emotional and depressed in withdrawal because of the “dopamine deficit” that occurs. Dr. Anna Lembke who wrote the book Dopamine Nation shared that it takes 14 days for the brain to start repairing itself and to feel good, but it takes a good 30 days to feel fully better when you are letting go of any drug. This is definitely the case with caffeine as well. Knowing that time frame set my expectations up for success rather than hoping it would be gone in a week.
Have you ever given up caffeine? I’d love to hear what your journey has been like. And if you are needing help, contact me! I’m determined to help others with this through my own journey of kicking caffeine.