August 30

Why I Quit Caffeine: Lessons From My Caffeine

Filed under Caffeine and Stimulants by Frederic Patenaude

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I’m going to be frank and honest with you, in a way that many “gurus” of raw foods and natural health never are. I’m not perfect with my diet and healthy lifestyle. Who is, anyway? But I am very committed to improving myself all the time, and learning from my mistakes, but also sharing the results of my experience with my readers.

So today I want to tell you about my “experiments” in the wonderful world of coffee and caffeine over the past years and especially of last year, and why I’ll never put that stuff into my body again.

My Little “Caffeine Background”

Growing up, I was never a soda drinker. My mom didn’t buy sodas, and when I did drink it, it was generally the brands that didn’t contain caffeine.

After high school, I enrolled in music school, and noticed that most of my friends in college started to drink coffee. I remember to give it a try one day, thinking it would improve my concentration while practicing.

Since I was not used to drinking coffee, it gave me an instant buzz. My heart was racing, and when I sat down to practice the guitar (I was practicing 5 hours a day at the time), I noticed that my hand was shacking! I certainly couldn’t practice like this, so I didn’t try coffee again.

Later a friend of mine told me that some Flamenco players drink a lot of coffee in order to be able to play in a very fast, jittery style. I remember thinking, “this doesn’t make sense! I couldn’t even play a arpeggio right when drinking the stuff!”

Later I got into raw and healthy foods, and so I wasn’t enticed to drink coffee (even though I met many raw-foodists who were fond of black espresso coffee).

I eventually slipped off when a girlfriend introduced me to the wonderful world of gourmet coffees: lattee (you could even order it with soy milk!), capuccinos, espresso, mokaccino, and so many more delicious combinations.

I instantly became a coffee fan. So I drank it occasionally for a number of years, but eventually gave it up, as I realized the stuff wasn’t doing me any good.

But for some reason last year, I started drinking coffee again. The old addiction came back! One day I woke up, had a cup of black coffee, was instantly hooked again, and drank it every day for months in a row!

I loved the buzz of caffeine, the taste of coffee, the so-called “enhanced mental clarity” and basically everything about it.

But as I quickly realized (and actually already knew, but I was fooling myself)… the “energy” you get from coffee is actually false energy. It’s sort of like borrowing from the bank… you later have to pay it back, with interest!

Little by little, I was drinking more coffee, and the negative effects showed. I was no longer waking up in the morning “happy and ready to meet the day”.

Rather, it was more that I was half-somatic until I put some java in my system again.

Even though coffee can make you very “active” and productive… like all stimulants, they lead to a crash. The subtle symptoms are depression, “the blues”… and just not feeling like yourself anymore.

I tried to blame it on stress.

I tried to blame it on a lot of stuff… because unconsciously, I’d love the idea that I could somehow still drink my morning coffee and be okay. Everything in moderation, right?

So I decided to give it up… for good! I had done that before, but this was the first time in my life that I was definitely drinking coffee on a regular basis.

I did the transition gradually, using Teeccino (a wonderful replacement you can find at: www.teeccino.com), but I would say it took me about 2-3 weeks to come back to my “normal self” with natural energy. That’s one of the reasons why people are NOT able to give up coffee: because of the withdrawal symptoms.

Of course, the system has to adjust. But there is no doubt that I DO feel much better now, without any caffeine in my system.

Now, let me answer a few questions you may have:

Why did you drink coffee? I thought you were an advocate of raw foods and good health?”

Everyone has different things they “compromise” with, wherever they are in their path to health. I’m not going to judge anyone for that. It’s perfectly normal and human. I’m open about my own process so to me saying that I was drinking coffee even though I am advocating a mostly raw diet is not dishonest. I know plenty of so called “raw-foodists” who drink espresso coffee. I won’t name anyone but some are pretty big names in the raw-food “business”.

“What are some of the negative effects of caffeine?”

There are so many. Most people are familiar with the “caffeine headache”, but the list is actually much longer, and includes depression (which is contradictory but makes sense once you think about it).

For the full details, check out the article I published in my magazine Just Eat An Apple, “Coffee, the Great Energy Sapper”, where you will learn more about caffeine side effects and caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
http://www.fredericpatenaude.com/articles/coffee.html

“If I go raw or go on a cleanse, should I also quit coffee?”

Yes! But not cold turkey. That’s a recipe for disaster. Do it gradually over three weeks, using the program at: http://www.teeccino.com/quitting.aspx

“If I have just one cup of coffee a day, is it still okay?”

I suggest you read the book “Caffeine Blues”. You’ll realize what negative effects a “cup” can really have on your system. I believe caffeine is best left out of the diet entirely. Try it for a month, and notice the difference (but give it at least a month!).

What about the caffeine in green tea?”

Depending on the method of preparation and the type of tea, green tea can contain very little caffeine or actually quite a bit. If you prepare it from loose green leaves, and let it steep in near-boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, the caffeine content is small (about 15 mg. per cup, versus 80-140 for coffee).

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4 Responses to “Why I Quit Caffeine: Lessons From My Caffeine”

  1. Becky says:

    Coffee puts the system under the strain of metabolizing a deadly acid-forming drug, depositing its insoluble cellulose, which cements the wall of the liver, causing this vital organ to swell to twice its proper size. In addition, coffee is heavily sprayed. (Ninety-two pesticides are applied to its leaves.) Diuretic properties of caffeine cause potassium and other minerals to be flushed from the body.

    Get the real scoop on coffee at http://www.CaffeineAwareness.org
    And if you drink decaf you wont want to miss this special FREE report on the Dangers of Decaf available at http://www.soyfee.com

    [Thanks Becky for the worderful resource website!]

  2. Lorin says:

    Thanks for the article. I have been a coffee afficianado since I was very young. I ‘quit’ coffee a couple months ago mostly due to the affects I know it has on women, leaching their bones of calcium as your body fights the acidity of coffee. Plus, it was just becoming a pain in the @#$ (and expensive) to bring my organic, fair trade coffee into work every couple weeks, and have the community fridge stocked with some non-dairy milk. I still love the smell of coffee, and maybe one day I’ll have some, but for right now, I know my bones are thanking me for it- and I love having my fruit smoothie in the morning instead. The biggest short term benefit (beside having to bring in all my supplies) is the difference I see in my skin. It is much less dry and blemished- apparently skin likes water and not coffee 😉 Also, I disagree that one can’t go cold turkey. To my knowledge, there are no major medical problems with withdrawing from coffee- and I think it’s worth it. I had 2-3 days of off-and-on headaches/crabiness, but it was worth it. I kicked my habit in 3 days. Best of luck if you’re trying to break a coffee habit- you can do it!

  3. Marsha says:

    Great article, Frederic! I appreciate the honesty you bring to your writing. I, too, quit coffee after drinking it for nearly 20 years. I wouldn’t have known if I had bad withdrawal as I quit coffee after experiencing a nasty 3-day ‘flu. That was at the end of December and I haven’t had any coffee since (ok, I did sneak some coffee ice cream this summer). I feel pretty good. Does it sound strange to say that I feel more “real” since quitting? Maybe “grounded” is a better word. A big change since quitting is that my husband says I’m much easier to be around! He says I’m more calm and even-keeled. He’s my #1 supporter now – lol. One thing that I experienced after drinking coffee was huge thirst! I was surprised, as I thought quitting coffee would mean that I’d be less thirsty. This big thirst lasted about 3 months or so and then tapered off. I wondered whether my body had been severely dehydrated from the coffee and was making up for lost time or, rather, water. For now, I drink organic caffeine-reduced green teas as well as non-caffeinated herbal teas. I really don’t miss the coffee – it’s absolutely worth it to quit.

  4. Mia says:

    Hi Frederic, thanks for an interesting and honest article. Stopping the caffeine addiction can be really tough. It actually was my first step on the path to a healthier lifestyle. (Or the second, after giving up smoking.) The first few times when I tried to give up coffee I was totally knocked out, lying in bed with a headache and very painful muscle cramps, even waking up at night with cramps in my legs as if someone was pulling a thread through them. Awful. Six years ago I was finally able to give it up for good. One of the ‘not so nice’ side effects of being caffeine free is that I feel my physical boundaries much clearer than before. I used to break through all my barriers when I drank coffee (= from age 7 to 30), work too long and too hard, and I simply can’t do that anymore. The nice way to put this is that I’m more in touch with my body.
    You can see some interesting pictures of the effect that caffeine and other drugs have on spiders’ webs (research done by NASA) on http://www.caffeineweb.com/?p=15 .

    [THanks Mia, I agree. It can actually take around 8 weeks for the body to be free of caffeine and for the stress hormones to be back to normal. That’s why I say you have to give it a try for at least that long.]

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