A Comprehensive Guide to Quitting Caffeine
You don't have to be a slave to caffeine to get through your day.
Please note, I am not a physician or medical professional. The information provided here is based on my own experiences and research.
I quit caffeine 10 years ago. I didn’t do it intentionally though. My husband had gone out of town and left me with only Diet 7-Up to drink when I had previously been drinking caffeinated Diet Pepsi. Since there’s no caffeine in 7-Up, my body started to detox.
That week was hard. I felt dizzy and had headaches. But once I got past the withdrawal symptoms, I felt great, and my health improved because of it.
I would recommend quitting caffeine to anyone who thinks they have a problem with it, but I would not recommend doing it the way I did. Here, I’ll talk about who should quit caffeine, and how to do it without severe withdrawal symptoms.
Who should quit caffeine?
If you use caffeine to do certain things or have certain thoughts about caffeine, you should consider quitting caffeine. These include:
- Using caffeine to make an activity easier. These include waking up, working out, or having a bowel movement.
- Feeling tired in the early afternoon, or having sugar cravings because the caffeine “high” has worn off.
- Getting irritable, or feeling headachy or floaty if you don’t get a caffeine fix.
- Struggling to fall asleep and getting a good night’s sleep so you can wake up feeling refreshed.
- Using caffeine to intensify the effects of other substances, like nicotine, alcohol, or sugar.
- Worrying that your social routine will suffer if you don’t drink caffeine.
- Thinking you can’t live without caffeine.
If you’ve done any of those things or had any of those thoughts, you should consider quitting caffeine.
So how do I quit caffeine safely?
For most people, the easiest way to quit caffeine is to gradually reduce it. Coffee drinkers can drink a regular cup of coffee to start the day. For their next serving, they could pour a combination of half decaf and half regular coffee. Any ratio will work though, as long as you continue reducing the amount you use methodically.
If you only want to cut back, stop stepping down your caffeine consumption at any point that feels good to you. If you feel comfortable having one cup of regular coffee and one cup of decaf coffee, keep it there.
If you continue reducing your caffeine intake, you will notice withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling depressed.
- Low energy
If you notice any of these symptoms, hang in there. Withdrawal symptoms are at their worst in two to four days. Even if you quit cold turkey, most withdrawal symptoms go away after a week of being caffeine-free. If you have headaches, supplement with extra vitamin C, take regular breaks, drink plenty of water, take walks, and go to bed on time.
One complication of quitting caffeine is that you can find it in certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Over-the-counter drugs that contain caffeine include Actamin, Anacin Maximum Strength, Asprin-Free Excedrin, Bayer Select Maximum Strength Headache Pain Relief, Dristan, Goody’s Extra Strength Tablets and Headache Powder, Midol Menstrual Maximum Strength Caplets, Midol for Cramps Maximum Strength Caplets, NoDoz100 mg, and Vivarin.
Prescription drugs that have caffeine include Cafergot Suppositories, Cafergot Tablets, Darvon Compound, Fiorinal Capsules and Tablets, Fiorinal with Codeine № 3, Norgesic Forteand Norphadrine Forte, Norgesic, and Triaminicine with Codeine Tablets.
If you’re taking any of these over-the-counter drugs, switch to non-caffeinated options. If you’re taking any of the prescription drugs, talk to your doctor about switching to something without caffeine in it.
It can also be associated with smoking and nicotine. If you also smoke, you may benefit from counseling and medical assistance.
After you quit caffeine completely, you may need more support. This is because your liver breaks down caffeine to eliminate it from your body, which can affect liver function. These supplemental nutrients can help improve liver function:
- B vitamins
- Milk Thistle
You can reduce the extra stress on your liver by eliminating foods that have toxins or allergens. Common toxic foods include:
- cherry pits
- apple seeds
- raw kidney beans
- rhubarb leaves
- bitter almonds
- star fruit
- raw cashews
Foods that usually contain allergens include cow’s milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, soy, and fish.
What if I don’t have any of these allergies?
If you know you don’t have any of the food allergies listed above, you could also eat a more alkaline diet. This type of diet provides minerals and antioxidants that help clear out reactive debris created when your body detoxifies from caffeine.
Foods you can eat on this diet include fruits and vegetables, soybeans, tofu, and some nuts, seeds, and legumes. You’ll want to avoid acidic foods like dairy, eggs, meat, most grains, and processed foods like canned and pre-packaged snacks and convenience foods.
Also, make sure you get enough protein and fiber because your bowels can slow down during caffeine withdrawal. Fiber also promotes bacterial balance in the digestive tract. This helps nutrients absorb better.
What can I do to boost my energy in the morning while I’m quitting or cutting back caffeine?
One of the best things you can do when quitting is to drink a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea as soon as you wake up. Then eat a protein-rich breakfast as soon as you can. After that, if you still want to have caffeine, go ahead and have it.
You can also check out alternatives to coffee. Grain coffees are well-known substitutes. They’re made from grains like almonds, malted barley, and chicory. You can also try decaffeinated teas made from dandelion root, peppermint, sassafras, ginseng, ginger root, comfrey, lemongrass, and red clover.
What happens after detoxification
If you’re worried you might not be as productive without caffeine, remember that your body and mind aren’t meant to be on all day. The body works best when you respect its natural cycles. Rest when your body needs rest, and be active when your body wants to be active. The rest period is when your body repairs and detoxifies itself.
Respecting your body’s natural rhythms will ensure that you don’t go back to caffeine and further damage your body. By being gentle on your body when you detox, you’re ensuring it can happen without additional stress.
If you want to read about my experience going through caffeine withdrawal click here.
About the author
I started writing in elementary school and haven't stopped since. I love to write about my life experiences and the hard lessons I've learned from them, as well as some of the life hacks I've discovered. I love tips for great work.