The Big Think

November 9, 2004

Caffeine Free!

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 8:16 am

One year ago today I had my last caffeine. I made it a whole year! I didn’t know it at the time, but that Pepsi I bought at the convenience store was my last one for awhile.
I didn’t set out to go cold turkey, but after watching my weight slowly climb up into the high one-hundreds after college, then cross 200, then push into 220 territory, then approach 230, I slowly realized that I wasn’t paying as much attention to my diet as I should. I also realized that I was becoming much too dependent on the artificial stimulant effects of caffeine to get me going in the morning. And I’m sure all the sugar that came from drinking a 2-liter of Pepsi every other day made me a good candidate for adult onset diabetes.
So I decided to give it up for a week, just to make my body less dependent on the stuff. After one week, let me tell you, I gained a whole new respect for people who try and quit harder habits like smoking or alcoholism. Not that what I went through is anywhere near as bad, but the headaches, irritability, shakes, lack of concentration, and horrible sleep patterns (which I have anyway), convinced me that my body was way, way, way too dependent on the stuff. So two weeks turned into three and I still felt like I’d been run over all the time, and the cravings were distracting. I found myself thinking gee, if my body is really this dependent on the stuff, what’s it doing to my long-term health?
So I kept pushing the end-of-experiment date back farther and farther, two weeks became a month, then two months, then six. Eventually I realized the headaches were gone, my concentration was back, I didn’t have the shakes, and my teeth didn’t hurt anymore (scary to realize they were aching a lot and I’d learned to live with it). Didn’t affect my insomnia a bit, though. Best of all, with just a little effort, I managed to drop over 20 pounds.
I’m now within a hairsbreadth of 200 lbs, and we’re back to counting calories and eating as healthy as we can. I’m determined to see my college weight of 185, and am proud of the fact that it’s been a whole year caffeine free. The only thing I really miss is my morning cup of Earl Grey loose leaf tea. I’m a bit of a tea snob and Erin’s mom gave me a nice Bodum tea pot a few years ago. If you like tea, you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted Earl Grey loose leaf. The decaf teabag stuff I’ve been living off the last twelve months doesn’t even compare. Those Brits really know what they’re talking about.
I’ll probably introduce my morning cup of real Earl Grey back into the diet; the no-caffeine restriction won’t become a lifelong habit, but next time I’ll watch my consumption a lot closer and get my fix with the high quality Earl instead of from all those soft drinks. I’m very glad to have tried this experiment. If you think you might be too dependent on the stuff, I encourage you try what I did, or at least cut back a bit.

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