Are you always tired, feel drained, or can’t seem to focus on any one thing? It may be because you’re drinking too much coffee.
by Kimberly Pangaro | Kimberly is a mom of four daughters and the owner of the lifestyle parenting media company Atomic Mommy. When she’s not running her company or momming all day, she’s writing about family life. She’s been featured in Parents magazine and Voyage Savannah magazine. She’s considered to be an expert in parenting and entrepreneurship. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @atomic_mommy.
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Drinking coffee is as normal as breathing to many people, and it’s not a surprise. The caffeine inside of coffee is what people use to function properly each day. Without it, you can turn into a moody soul, anti-social, or even angry.
But much like any stimulant, coffee is also addicting. And the more of it you drink, the more of its stimulant you’ll crave. How do you know if this is you? Well, if you are the type of person who needs a cup of coffee in the morning or you can’t function, and then another one in the afternoon, then you may be addicted to the caffeine.
Caffeine in high quantities can have terrible side effects on the quality of your life. Too much of it can cause irregular sleep patterns, all-out insomnia, the inability to hold objects steadily, an irregular heartbeat, quick highs and faster lows, dehydration, indigestion, anxiety, and even depression.
So with all of these side effects, why do so many people still drink tons of coffee? Because coffee companies and ad agencies know how to market to the masses. And when you see people everywhere, every day, all around you, with a cup of coffee in hand, the message becomes ingrained into the social culture– there is no way to survive life without a daily dose of coffee!
What Made Me Quit Coffee
After 12 years of being a coffee drinker, I quit because it no longer helped. When I first started drinking coffee, I always opted to drink it light and sweet, but when my metabolism took a hit and I was diagnosed with a metabolic disorder, I decided to lower my sugar intake. I then began drinking coffee with milk and just 3 teaspoons of sugar.
After six years of making my coffee like that, I noticed my weight had continuously fluctuated. My joints were suffering from inflammation, and even my kidneys were having issues. That’s when I opted to start using organic coffee beans, coconut milk instead of regular milk, and only 2 teaspoons of all-natural sugar in my coffee.
Even with those changes, the list of side effects kept growing. I was losing my ability to focus. My memory was slowly decaying. I felt a constant sense of brain fog. After each morning’s coffee, my energy never improved, and at times, even seemed to fade. Eventually, I began falling asleep mid-mornings, just after my morning cup of coffee.
That’s when I began drinking my coffee black, with no additives. I thought if there was no sugar and no other ingredient in it, I could reap the benefits of the caffeine and my metabolism would go back to normal. However, the positive boost from black coffee only lasted until the early afternoon, which would then cause me to need a second cup.
My body continued to feel all of the symptoms listed above, and after six more years of trying everything under the sun to reclaim my life, I got fed up. Realizing that nothing the doctors were instructing me to do was actually working, and with other doctors diagnosing me with more metabolic disorders, and also trying to big-pharma-me into submission, I knew there was something in my diet that needed to go bye-bye. So, three weeks ago at the ripe age of 38, I removed coffee from my diet completely and did not replace it with anything else. Here is what I learned.
The Benefits of Quitting Coffee
It’s been three full weeks since I completely abandoned coffee. Days 1, 2, 3, and 4 were extremely hard. I went through severe withdrawal symptoms, and the cravings for sugar were unreal. A flu-like sickness came upon me in those first few days, and when I wasn’t feeling sick, I felt extremely fatigued, unable to fully function, lost, and fell into a weird sadness. But on day 5, a miracle happened.
As a little child, I used to wake with the sun. That ability was lost in adulthood, until I quit coffee. The miracle that occurred on day 5 was utterly shocking. I rose with the rising of the sun that morning, and I did it without an alarm. Not only did my body do that naturally, I also woke up feeling refreshed, as if I had the best sleep of my adult life.
Unfortunately, my afternoon still felt sluggish and the cravings for coffee were still very present. Later that evening, I got sleepy much earlier than normal. Usually, I put the kids to bed at 8:30pm and I would stay up until 1 or 2am without a sleep aid. On the night of day 5, I started falling asleep around 11pm, without any sleeping pills.
Days 6 thru 9
As it happened on day 5, days 6 and 7 gave me more full nights of sleep without any sleeping pills. In the mornings, my eyes were thrust open just as the sun was rising. Day 7 was when I woke before the kids woke up.
As a night-person whose spent most of her adult life as an insomniac, these feelings were new and unusual. Further than that, my afternoons also had energy to go around. The early evenings is where I would feel depleted and I’d want to go to bed earlier than normal. Normal bedtimes for me before quitting coffee were usually midnight or one in the morning, with the morning alarm going off at 7am forcing me out of bed. But on these nights, I was hitting the sack at 10 and 11 without any assistance from OTC medications.
Days 8 and 9 brought a new feeling. For the first time in years, I had full clarity of my surroundings, my tasks, and the future. It was like the foggy vail had been lifted completely. I was getting things done on my to-do list from the decade prior, in just a few hours. More than that, my energy level was fully replenished, a fact that my children greatly benefited from.
Days 10 and 11
When days 10 and 11 rolled around, my heartbeat began normalizing– a fact I felt at night during my newly acquired glorious sleep. I was no longer waking up in the middle of the night with chest pain or the sense of impending doom for forgetting to do something, like pay the bills. Additionally, my daytime anxieties lowered. I wasn’t worried about the small stuff, because I knew I had the energy to get to them. I was also more forgiving of myself at this point, because I was realizing that what I was going through before all of this was what really caused my lack of function. And then there was the renewed sensation of thirst– for fresh, cold water!
During my coffee years, drinking water always brought with it acid reflux, so I kept away from it. Without the coffee to bog my digestive system down, I was able to drink so much more water without experiencing acid reflux.
Days 12 and 13
On these days, I could see the difference that quitting coffee did to my skin. My face stopped looking dull. The acne breakouts were gone. My skin began having a youthful and natural glow. Even my urine was healthier looking and smelling (gross, I know, but true)– it was practically clear! My kidneys felt rejuvenated. I used to suffer with severely cracked heels and flaky dry skin, but by this time, both skin issues were becoming alleviated. Turns out, I didn’t need the fancy lotions, dermatologist recommendations, or topical steroids.
Days 14 thru 21
These days were really the best! In just three weeks of being coffee free, there have been some positive medical updates. My anxiety was completely gone. All of the withdrawal side effects were non-existent. I lost ten pounds, my face was no longer puffy, I didn’t have any under eye circles, my energy levels had me back to feeling like I was a child, and I could get through my days and family obligations without any loss of sleep and with zero stress.
On Days 25 thru 27, The Cravings Returned
On day 25, the mental craving returned. I don’t know if it was because it was back to school season and I was surrounded by other moms who brought their coffee to school drop-off. Regardless, one whiff of coffee had me feeling like a drug-addict!
The withdrawal symptoms came back and unfortunately, I fell off the wagon. Day 25 is when I had my first cup of coffee in over 3 weeks. And then, on day 26, I had another. On day 27, all the symptoms I had worked so hard to get rid of came flooding back with a vengeance. And that’s when I knew for certain, coffee was a major culprit affecting my health.
Days 28 To Present Time
Kicking the coffee cravings a second time was a lot easier than the first time. Now that I know what coffee does to my health, I know to avoid it. And because I know my that the smell of hot coffee messes with my head, I make sure to preoccupy my mind with other things if I happen to be around it, like at school drop-off or at play dates.
If you feel like I used to feel, then take a look at your diet. I’m not saying that coffee is the culprit in your diet, but it might be. The only way you’ll know for certain is if you make a real attempt to find out. Be strong, be brave, and be ready to work at keeping the coffee cravings at bay. And just remember, the benefits of quitting coffee far outweigh the taste and flavor of coffee!