For as long as I can remember I’ve been a caffeine hound. Like, literally thinking back to when I first experienced the uplifting jolt of caffeine? I had to have been in like 11th or 12th grade – when Red Bull and other energy drinks gained popularity.
I distinctly remember being on campus freshman year of college and other teens promoting Red Bull by giving away free cans and T-shirts… so I was at least as young as 17 or 18 when I first bit the bullet. And I’ve literally been consuming caffeine in various forms ever since…
Up until now.
That’s right, after at least 20 years of caffeine consumption, I’ve finally chosen to quit.
In future posts I’m going to go into much further detail about all things caffeine addiction – from describing caffeine withdrawal and how I survived it, to how caffeine and alcohol addiction recovery collide, to intermittent fasting for weight loss and quitting caffeine.
But today I want to keep it cute and simple, and shed a little light on why I chose to quit drinking caffeine in the first place.
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A Typical Day Of Caffeine Consumption
Just for sake of conversation, I think it’s important to share how much caffeine I would drink on a daily basis.
On any given day I’d have a 12 ounce serving of Keurig coffee from home (140mg of caffeine) and one 12oz sugar-free Rockstar energy drink (160-240mg of caffeine). So, really no more than 380mg of caffeine in a 24 hour period.
According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 400mg of caffeine daily is considered safe.
It appears that I would have actually been “okay” had I continued along this path. So why quit?
7 Reasons Why I Quit Caffeine
1- It was out of my control/Felt addictive
Honestly while it probably wasn’t an insane amount of caffeine I was drinking, I’ve known for a while that I was behaving like I was addicted to caffeine.
Since quitting alcohol 14 months prior, I’d become acutely aware of what cravings felt like. And what it felt like to mentally desire to avoid the substance, only to wind up drinking it anyway.
I’ve said before that you don’t quit alcohol by just “quitting alcohol”.
A huge part of alcohol addiction recovery is improving across multiple areas of your life – and that includes eventually getting all your other bad habits and addictions under control. Being free of alcohol addiction and then behaving like I was addicted to caffeine just no longer sit right with me.
So, I quit caffeine.
2- I was using it for everything
Maybe along the same lines as feeling like it was addictive (but a bit more specific), I found myself absolutely needing it to function.
Like, I’d get out of bed early and go straight to the fridge and grab a Rockstar – before even considering what I wanted my day to be like or before using the restroom.
Even if I’d already had caffeine earlier in the day, before going out for the afternoon or evening, I’d habitually grab a cup of Keurig coffee as insurance to keep me awake and motivated for whatever activity I was going to.
Or for working out. I literally NEVER exercised without drinking an energy drink or having some coffee first. Never. When I asked friends if they caffeine boost before exercise – everybody said “no”. It was just me.
I felt like this just wasn’t right.
So, I quit caffeine.
3- My sleep had been poor for a long while
While my body had grown quite acclimated to caffeine and I honestly could get to sleep at any point after consuming caffeine (even if I drank caffeine at 9pm I could still go to bed at 10). I had increasing problems with sleep quality.
Unable to stay asleep the entire night, I’d often wake up really early in the morning and get started for the day, but, again, go straight to the fridge to get my caffeine fix! I was never, ever truly rested. Ever. And I wanted to experience a truly energized body for once in my life.
So, I quit caffeine.
4- I was always anxious and irritable
I’d gotten so used to the feeling of being constantly “alert” and on-edge, so this feeling became my normal over time. But I noticed that I was pretty much always slightly jumpy, a little bit stressed, and quite irritable.
For example, I’ve always had a hard time with having my e-mail attached to my phone, since my last job was a huge source of e-mail pressure… like we HAD to have it linked to our smartphones and if we missed anything it would come down on us later. So ever since, internet or e-communication has been a huge source of stress for me.
Well, since leaving that job I don’t have that same set of mandatory outside pressure anymore, but I noticed as soon as I got my caffeine fix for the day (which was immediately upon waking, mind you) everything became SO important.
I was constantly just wired to the internet and compulsively checking social media and always on my phone, responding to every message I got on any channel.
I just couldn’t unplug and stop feeling like I had to do and be everything at every moment everywhere, and I felt that was so unhealthy.
So, yep, I quit!
5- I wanted a better mind/body/spirit connection
As I discussed in my one-year sobriety update, though I chose to quit drinking without AA, I tried a plethora of self-care activities to help me stay quit. Many of these, such as meditation, visualization, breathwork and yoga were dependent on a strong connection between mind, body and spirit. Something that I felt caffeine was probably getting in the way of.
I know meditation takes some practice and the whole “let your mind go blank” thing is hard for any newbie. So, the fact that I couldn’t really achieve that straight away wasn’t problematic on its own.
But I suspected that the racing mind, racing heart and just general inability to sit still long enough to even really try to get into meditating was probably due to my daily caffeine consumption.
So, I quit.
6- I wanted to gauge my true hunger levels
So, a huge part of what I’m doing lately to manage my weight is intermittent fasting. It really is so easy to use the hunger reduction from caffeine to your advantage in this case. Drinking caffeine first thing in the morning curbs hunger until noon at the earliest.
I’ve been a HUGE promoter of this, as it really works! It was SO EASY for me to wake up early in the morning, down my caffeine and get the day started.
Oftentimes I’d be so involved in my work from the insane focus caffeine provides, that I’d forget to eat until much later. Like sometimes over 20 hours!
Don’t get me wrong – this is a great trick for intermittent fasting. And I still think anybody who doesn’t feel they have a caffeine problem should use the black coffee method to get them to where they want to be.
But for me, it felt so artificial. I just wanted to see where my appetite was really at. And what my body felt like it really needed in terms of nourishment and fuel throughout the day.
So, I stopped drinking caffeine.
7- It wasn’t part of my desired self-image
Last but definitely not least, I have to say that I think whether you’re recovering from alcohol addiction or not, it’s so insanely beneficial to keep a solid vision of who you want to be – who you’re evolving into.
Because whether you do it intentionally and with purpose or not – time will pass, life will happen to you, and you’ll change and grow.
If you visualize nothing and aim for nothing specific, 2 or 3 years from now you’ll probably look a bit different.
You’ll have picked up or dropped some new habits. Your outlook on life and the world may differ. You may have gained or lost a few pounds. But you will not be the exact same person as you are today no matter what you do.
So, I choose to get in front of these life changes and actively select who I want to be by visualizing the ideal Allie!
What does she look like? What does she eat? What’s her energy level like? Etc…
When I selected who I ideally wanted to be, she was just naturally youthful and energetic. She didn’t need any outside substances to get her there.
She’d wake up without alarm clocks at 6 am or so ready to take charge and excitedly face the day, create new things, and spread light all around.
She was just… internally and naturally vibrant!
How exciting, right?
But with that, I knew that caffeine just didn’t play a strong role in my future plan. I knew I’d have to make some serious changes, so I committed to getting the ball rolling in that direction.
And, I quit caffeine.
Caffeine Is Really Not Bad At All
After all that I feel the need to include a disclaimer. I do NOT think caffeine is at all bad. And I’m also not saying I’ll never have a sip of any caffeine ever again in life.
Multiple studies have shown that caffeine does have multiple benefits –which I can attest to (and sometimes, honestly I do miss).
So please believe that I’m definitely not saying at all that caffeine consumption is a problem in general.
BUT… you have to decide what’s right and what’s wrong FOR YOU.
And figure out what you do and do not want in the ideal life that you create for yourself.
For me it was just time to try quitting caffeine for a while and see how I fared.
So that’s what I did!
In the next several articles I’ll go a bit deeper into all aspects of quitting caffeine, but for now, it’s over to you…
Can you relate? Do you think you drink too much caffeine? Share your thoughts in the comments below!