“But, why?” That was the typical response when I told people that I would be removing caffeine from my diet for five days. This was probably because I am a not-so-anonymous coffee addict, basically always carrying some form of coffee throughout the day. Not to mention, the idea of dropping one of the most popular sources of caffeine during a hectic week of college seemed absurd to others.
Either way, I was determined to try it and find out how my body and mental health would respond to less coffee pumping through my bloodstream. It was partially for Spoon research, partially because I wanted to walk through the halls and cafeteria and have students and professors think, “See that girl? She’s a fighter.” I didn’t quite get those admonishing responses—people just looked at me like I was crazy for taking on the challenge or concerned because I looked as if I was in shambles.
One of the most daunting parts of restricting myself from caffeine, and more specifically coffee, would be giving up the ritual that comes with a morning cup. I really enjoy the initial smell and cradling a warm cup, and breakfast doesn't seem to taste the same without a mug full of coffee. But maybe the potential headaches and constant exhaustion would be worse.
So, here we go I guess.
I spontaneously decided to start one Monday morning without mentally preparing myself before. Noon came around and my hectic morning hadn't allotted time for a coffee. I turned to my friend and announced that I would be going coffee-less this week (because it’s not official until you have people to hold you accountable). Needless to say I started to cry knowing I wasn’t going to be able to drink a cup of Joe for five days—and this is not an exaggeration, sadly.
Before my next class, I was grabbing hot water for some tea and telling everybody about my trial of the week (remember: I wanted to seem like a warrior). Tea is not my cup of… well, coffee, but I like the idea of holding and sipping on something warm. Immediately somebody stopped me and said having tea would be cheating because of the caffeine. I agreed and started to tear up—again.
I work at seven on these mornings. By the time I got to class at 12:45, I felt like I had been up for two days straight. Words were impossible and walking straight was rough. Maybe some lemon water will perk me up—turns out no.
Starting off with pastry lab in the morning was quite a hurdle. Coffee is always flowing on these mornings and the fact that it was hump day didn’t make it any easier. The pastry chef kept asking me how my “ailment” was because he and his wife are concerned for me. Do I really look that bad?
We made tiramisu in class that day and I couldn’t even taste it because of the whole lady-fingers-dunked-in-coffee thing. That was resistance and strength at its finest. I’ll pause for applause.
Another day, another dollar in my pocket that I didn’t spend on coffee. Luckily for me, I usually just have it black, so my coffee bill was never outrageous and the sugar load was not a problem. Still, Thursday seemed like it would never end.
My day starts at seven am again and goes straight through four pm — very daunting without coffee as a crutch. As the day went on, people became more impossible to deal with and coffee seemed like a distant memory.
The finish line is in sight, now it's just the final push and I had to give it everything I got. To be honest, it was probably one of the easiest days of the week. Maybe because my schedule is usually more relaxed on these days, or I have practically removed caffeine from my diet—definitely the former.
On Saturday, I woke up and treated myself to a classy latte at a local coffee shop. Because of the withdrawal, I could feel the peak of caffeine in my system was stronger than ever.
The most surprising result of the experiment was the lack of "caffeine headaches." Going into the week, I was convinced I would have at least a couple of headaches from not getting my daily fix. They've even been known to reduce headaches for some so I thought for sure they would occur, luckily not.
Did I accomplish the "that girl's a fighter" vibe I was shooting for? I sure did, in my head. Turns out that people didn't really care that much and enjoyed taunting me with their drinks more than they enjoyed cheering me on—go figure.
Not much has changed in my life post-experiment since I still drink coffee daily. Now that I know it's possible for my body to live without it, I have been cutting down to 1-2 cups per day. Well, okay, sometimes I do.