Three years ago this week I gave up caffeine. I used to drink more than any human should, and stopped it dead, cold turkey. You can read about how and why it happened in these posts: 1, 2. You can even read my two years after post. Go on, I’ll wait for you.
Three years in and I’m still off the caffeine bus. I haven’t climbed back on once. But do read this post to the end.
Honestly, I haven’t been temped, except for one small thing. My body and mind are thoroughly conditioned to associate caffeine with gut-boiling agony, so the scent of Turkish coffee no longer makes me desire it. Tea shops honestly make me a bit nervous now. Sodas (Mountain Dew was my preference) are less appalling in that BF Skinner way, but their extra dental damage keeps me safely away.
That small thing? Chocolate. White chocolate I can do, which is fine. But I do miss dark chocolate. It’s not the caffeine boost, but the taste. I am tempted to nibble when I see people chomping on the glorious stuff, but I make myself remember the threat of digestive horror, which helps keep me away.
My routines have successfully changed. I’m writing this with my now customary morning drink, a mug full of very hot water. Making and drinking it is part of my wakeup routine. I turn to hot water at different times of the day, some of which were when I used to drink coffee or black tea: after dinner, coming in from cold weather, during a mid afternoon bout of yawning. With meals I drink simple glasses of water, maybe with ice, which is fine, and helps me focus on the food a bit more.
I still make morning coffee for my wife every day, and happily brew coffee or tea for visitors. Being good to my wife – well, that doesn’t need explanation. Being hospitable to guests is something I enjoy, the more so as I get older. Those positive feelings easily override any disgust I experience over making something which could maim my guts.
My energy levels are good. I wake up well. A little physical activity, like some neck or torso stretches or a quick pull-up, brings me fully alert. The only times I feel tired enough to yawn (for reasons other than bad presentations) are when I’ve had very little sleep (<4 hours) the night before, which makes sense; I bull through those times by force of will, or a spot of exercise (walking, chopping wood, kettle bell routine, etc).
Overall, I have not lost productivity due to going off caffeine. Like I wrote last year, I work 60 hour weeks at a minimum, which can involve extensive global travel and running a small business. Not to mention parenting two children, being a husband, working a homestead, and so on.
I still don’t feel an evangelical desire to help people get off of caffeine. My own habits were pretty extreme, and I suspect the biological effects were unusual. But I do support people when they come to me and ask for help because they’ve decided to decaffeinate for whatever reasons of their own.
So far so good! There is life after caffeine, a life as fine as the one before, but with better breath and cheaper drinks.
However, a fly has appeared in the decaffeinated ointment. Please feel free to stop reading if a) you don’t want this picture spoiled, and/or b) you don’t like personal health details; TMI.
Starting this summer my gut pains returned. Not so horrendous as before, but noticeable and regular: pain and/or nausea every morning, like clockwork. Changes in waking hours, diet, sleeping habits, location, time of year had no impact.
So I went to the family general practitioner, who changed up medication: no effect. Then it was back to our excellent digestive specialist. More pharmaceutical modifications: no dice. Plenty of blood work: nothing appeared that could cause these effects. An endoscopy had a spectacular, accidental impact, but revealed nothing that could be causing pains and nausea.
We’re stymied. It may be that my body simply prefers to experience gut pain in the morning. It might be time to try some radical diet and/or lifestyle changes.
If folks are curious, I’ll blog further.