The perks of going caffeine-free

Since this is National Women’s Health Week, I thought I’d take the time to convince you to give up that cup of joe everyday.

Sure, for every report or research out there that says coffee or caffeine is good for you, there is another one that pops up saying why they are so bad.  I’m not going to go point-counterpoint on this topic; that is a zero-sum game.  Instead, here’s what to expect if you do decide to give up caffeine (and coffee) entirely – based on my own 18 months of abstinence.

I’ve long been soda-free, for the better of 8 years since I gave it up to lose weight.  Coffee was a harder vice to abandon.  Getting to caffeine free was a gradual process – one which my husband carefully orchestrated every morning mixing regular coffee grinds with decaf until I was weaned off of it.  And once I was fully decaf, I gave coffee up entirely.  It felt pointless drinking it and I found just as much satisfaction in changing up my morning breakfast to include water, milk, or decaf hot tea.

First, the switch to decaf coffee is a pretty atrocious one.  If you’re a true coffee connoisseur, I highly recommend only drinking high-end decaf coffee, as in Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.  I spent many mornings forcing myself to drink Folgers decaf and trying to get the taste of ashtray out of my mouth.  Yuk!  Save yourself the torture and go gourmet.

Second, be prepared to have more lasting energy without caffeine than with it.  A little after I became de-caffinated myself, I noticed that I would come home from work with energy – raring to go.  I wasn’t exhausted every day.  I wasn’t losing steam at 3pm.  I wasn’t falling asleep after eating my lunch.  What was this strange new feeling?  Nothing else in my routine had changed – not my exercise, not my stress level, not my diet – except for caffeine.  Score!  You wouldn’t think that giving up caffeine – the same one you turn to for that 3pm slump – would prevent the fatigue that you treat with caffeine…  But it does.  I promise.

Third, you’ll have to find another use for all that over-the-counter pain medication you have, because you won’t be taking them for headaches.  I used to get headaches fairly frequently – enough to keep a stash of ibuprofen in my work bag, my purse, and my car.  I can’t tell you the last time I had to refill any one of those little containers.  There are only two conditions that give me a headache anymore: dehydration and getting Aunt Flo.  No more random headaches in the middle of the day.  I can’t control Aunt Flo, so if I get a headache it’s my own damn fault for not drinking enough water, which brings me to my final bonus for going au natural

Get ready to have a little extra spending cash from not getting that coffee, latte, diet soda, or energy drink “just to get you through” whatever you have to do.  Water is free.  Even if you get a water purifier, the cost is significantly less than the $1.50 they’ll hit you up at the vending machine or the $2.50 in a restaurant.  Your body is made of 60% water; your nervous system relies on the conductivity of water for all its little messages to get where they need to go quickly (including the brain, which is 70% water).  Coffee and soda are both diuretics, depleting your body of the water it needs to function at its peak with every swig.  Do what’s best and go get a nice cold glass of H2O.