29. Cut Out Caffeinated Beverages
Posted Monday 11.Jul.11on:
The last thirty days, I made a commitment to myself to significantly reduce my caffeine intake. This was a goal on my list of 101 things in 1001 days. I added this goal knowing that caffeine was affecting my body in negative ways.
I was having major and frequent migraines that would last a full day, or even several days. I didn’t realize what was causing the headaches at first–I thought it might be my eyesight, or the long hours in front of the computer screen and reading, or not enough sleep. Before and during college I would drink cups of coffee, tea, and soda, and fall asleep seemingly without any disruption. And even until a month ago, I didn’t drink caffeine heavily–typically only one or two cups a day, so the thought that it might be a dietary problem didn’t even occur to me. But after tracking my diet and habits in relation to my health, I realized it truly was a caffeine problem.
The migraines were completely debilitating. [Anyone who thinks they’ve had a migraine, hasn’t. You know when you’ve had a migraine.] What I didn’t realize, was that my body ached from what I was consuming. Now, I have some joint issues–have since high school–but my muscles, my breathing, and my heart were being significantly impacted by the caffeine intake. This is not to say I didn’t expect some effects, since caffeine is a stimulant. I just didn’t realize how much it had been affecting my system until I cut it out. My body certainly felt the effects of withdrawal.
With all of this in mind, I spent the last two months reducing my caffeine intake, and the last thirty days not drinking regular coffee, caffeinated sodas, or tea. I allowed myself decaf coffee about three times and mate once, which many argue technically isn’t completely caffeine free, but the caffeine is negligible and I didn’t notice any physical effects.
Overall, it was probably one of the most life changing goals I’ve accomplished. I’m less anxious, more even keeled. I feel healthier and more controlled–I don’t wonder whether I’m going to have a good weekend. I’ll probably continue drinking decaf coffee, because I like the taste of coffee and because coffee has antioxidants and nutrients that have health benefits, but keep the caffeine out. I’ll be glad to add tea back in, I’ve missed that more than anything, and it also has various health benefits. I don’t think I’ll add much of the soda back in that I cut out. I don’t miss it, and don’t crave it. If it’s served to me I’ll drink it, but likely won’t seek it out. Honestly, a lot of popular caffeinated beverages have sugar, syrups, or extra calories that are also unhealthy. So cutting out, or at least limiting, these types of beverages probably has hidden benefits as well.
This is such an exciting change, I’d recommend anyone who has health issues, even seemingly minor aches and pains, cut out caffeine for a while to help determine whether that might be a contributing factor. But do your research, and make sure you “step down” from your dietary habits. Don’t cut yourself off “cold turkey”, since that can be difficult on your body.