Listening to the coffee maker whir to life as the aroma of the dark roast spreads throughout a home always creates a place of comfort.

More than half of Americans over the age of 18 start their morning by pouring themselves a cup of their favorite brew. Coffee (my go-to being Dunkin' Donuts iced with caramel swirl) creates a feeling of alertness which wakes people right up in the early hours of the day. It has become such a uniform part of our schedule that we have overlooked the idea that it may do more than just get our adrenaline pumping.

cream, milk, tea, coffee, ice
Alex Frank

I started drinking coffee when I was 13 years old. Every day since that first cup I ever crafted with 2 scoops of sugar and a splash of cream, I was hooked. Flash forward to 5 years later and I just made the unthinkable decision to cut myself off.

Like any other drug, caffeine has negative side effects. I had developed a tolerance which required more and more of the substance to spark the same level of alertness. Instead of buying coffee to wake me up, I began to buy it out of habit, and I found myself tired again shortly after that first cup. 

Increasing your tolerance can lead to a larger intake which, believe it or not, could lead to a possible overdose! Coffee beans naturally contain caffeine. However, large companies that we all know and love (many soft drink companies) have been adding synthetic caffeine in order to supply a cheap remedy that will guarantee the customers are awake and satisfied with their purchase. For all those believing they can avoid such issues with decaf...

Decaf still holds traces of caffeine because the beans naturally contain it!

I made the personal decision to quit when I discovered coffee has been linked to increased anxiety. With my anxiety, I was in a state of uneasiness and worry with symptoms such as increased heart rate, quickened breathing, sweating, shaking, and sometimes vomiting. I was victim to all of this, yet I did not understand why.

Many high school and college students face stress and start their days with coffee, so I did not even fathom the idea that my caffeine intake could be what was setting me over the edge. Coffee has been shown to cut blood flow to the brain and can be 2x as effective if a woman is pregnant or on birth control. Once it got unbearable, I did my research and discovered what was happening to me. I then decided it was time to make the life altering decision to cut my caramel swirl coffee out of my life.  

Oh. my. God. The withdrawals. You hear about people who do hard core drugs can get all itchy and pained after they're cut off and I never thought me, a girl who occasionally uses Advil, would have to worry about withdrawal symptoms.

Nope, I am not that lucky. My use of advil definitely increased shortly after because I had never experienced migraines that severe. Not only that, but at the time I had to wake up at 6:30am for my work shift, and I found myself fighting to stay awake by 8:30am. It took about 2 weeks to get through, and this was 100% the most difficult change to overcome.

mocha, milk, espresso, cappuccino, coffee
Amy Cho

I paint quitting coffee out to be horrible and scary, but believe me when I say it was one of the smartest decisions I have made. I no longer have anxiety unless some grade dropping final exam presents itself, and I don't rely on a drug to keep me awake. I wake up feeling refreshed and no longer have trouble falling asleep at night. I have started eating 3 meals a day where as when I drank coffee I skipped breakfast. I have lost weight and overall feel more productive throughout the day.

A myth about coffee is that you can lose weight from it because caffeine lessens the urges of hunger. People believe this is a great new trendy diet plan where they can drop those extra pounds by enjoying a good beverage in the AM. Unfortunately, the sugars and cream add calories and skipping breakfast actually makes you more likely to gain weight and increases likelihood of heart disease. 

Don’t let my bad experience fool you! Coffee actually possesses multiple health benefits that help many of its users.

It has been linked to help prevent alzheimer's, diabetes, dementia, liver disease, and oral cancers. Also daily consumers are well aware of the bathroom ~regulating~ qualities it has (i.e. coffee poops). As many Americans find themselves with little free time in their schedules, it makes it difficult to have all the necessities of a healthy diet. Luckily, coffee is one of the most popular sources of antioxidants.

Of course, it’s not as great a choice as fruits or vegetables would be, but, for those without much time or a set diet in their lives, coffee suffices. So technically, coffee is a brain food (or drink).

Cutting out coffee isn't a decision everyone has to make. I even have a cheat day and let myself have a cup every Sunday. If you find yourself encountering any of the symptoms I did, I hope my experience can help you find a successful solution!

If you want an alternative for caffeine that is natural and will wake you up, there are tasty and healthy choices:

Green Tea:

matcha, tea, herb, green tea
Sam Jesner

Green tea improves brain function, weight loss, and is full of antioxidants.


soup, tea, matcha, green tea, cream
Marie Chantal Marauta

With derivatives also found in green tea, this drink offers users boosted metabolisms, lots of fiber, and lower blood sugar.

Yerba Mate:

herb, mate, coffee, tea
Delfina Barbiero

Armed with the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate."