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How I Ended My Relationship with Coffee

Photo by jacob chen

Let me just start by saying that I loved my cup of ‘Grande Soy Latte’. But, I didn’t like how it made me feel after the ‘kick’ worn off. I live in Seattle, the home of Starbucks, where coffee culture is BIG, and coffee shops are sprinkled on every street corner. Every day, I walk past seven coffee shops on my short eight-minute walk to the office. Deciding to quit was a personally challenging one, and I am very proud to announce that I’ve been ‘clean’ for 8 months.

Caffeine can be a sneaky little pick-me-up. I hated how it made me feel afterwards and how much I was dependent on it. Here are other reasons why I decided to quit:

  • I was sweating more.
  • I would get nervous for no reason.
  • I would feel dehydrated
  • I felt mentally “numb,” less sensitive to my surroundings, less intuitive and less creative
  • It was hard to truly relax and be calm.
  • Headaches from lack of caffeine.
  • I saw my friend hospitalized from too much coffee on a regular basis.
  • I learned that coffee is highly acidic (I’ll cover acidity and alkalinity in food in another post)
  • Caffeine masks both our true physical and emotional states. Giving my body a false boost of energy made it harder for me to tell what I really needed: more food, more sleep, more calmness?

So, I decided to end my eight year ‘love affair’ with coffee (who I ‘saw’ at least twice daily). How did I do it? The answer lay in restructuring my habits. I started with staying off coffee for two weeks, and then another two weeks, which eventually turned into eight months.

There are four areas I focused on and found replacements for, which helped me part with my coffee addiction:

  • Drink – Replacing coffee with Tea. In the beginning, I drank black tea for two weeks during my ‘transition period’. Then overtime, switching to healthier choices, such as fresh fruit, water with lemon. I now relish herbal tea as a fragrant treat.
  • Thought – Replacing the thought that ‘I need coffee to stay alert’ with ‘I focus on the present moment, and in this moment, I have enough energy in me to stay alert’. The power of attention isn’t limited by what I drink. I am strong and healthy with keen mind.
  • Habit – Replacing the emotional dependency on the act and habit of ‘getting coffee’ as a form of break, with getting up to stretch, getting a glass of water and eating raw almonds. I realized that I was drinking coffee partly out of habit, “Oh look, it’s 2:30, coffee time!” Like any other habit, I just replaced it with a healthier one.
  • Need – Replacing the false energy boost with more awareness and care of my body. I learned to listen to my body more. I found it helpful to ask myself, “What do I actually need right now?“. Often, instead of “I need coffee.”, I found the answers to be: ‘I need water, my body is dehydrated.”, “I need to sleep earlier.”, “I need to take five minutes to close my eyes and regroup”, “I need to get up and walk around.”, “I ate too much at lunch.”

The first two weeks was the hardest. I felt unreasonable tired. But once the two-week period was past, I felt less and less tired, less and less coffee cravings. Also, if you are not able to make this last long term after your first try, don’t be so hard on yourself. My first attempt to quit last year failed after 3 weeks of hard work. But the second attempt worked like a charm.

After incorporating this change into my life, I am seeing significant benefit. I have uncovered my real energy. I feel healthier and I love the freedom away from being dependent on a drink. I’m not trying to lecture you into quitting, but merely to share my experiences with you. If cutting coffee out completely is too extreme for you but you’re still interested, you can benefit by reducing the amount of coffee you drink or gradually replacing it with alternatives I’ve high-lighted from the 4 focuses above.

How does your body react to coffee? What do you do when you are tired? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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67 thoughts on How I Ended My Relationship with Coffee

  1. Maria Shrier

    Coffee puts the system under the strain of metabolizing a deadly acid-forming drug, depositing its insoluble cellulose, which cements the wall of the liver, causing this vital organ to swell to twice its proper size. In addition, coffee is heavily sprayed. (Ninety-two pesticides are applied to its leaves.) Diuretic properties of caffeine cause potassium and other minerals to be flushed from the body.

    All this fear went away when I quit, and it was a book that inspired me to do it called The Truth About Caffeine by Marina Kushner. There are five things I liked about this book:

    1) It details–thoroughly–the ways in which caffeine may damage your health.

    2) It reveals the damage that coffee does to the environment. Specifically, coffee was once grown in the shade, so that trees were left in place. Then sun coffee was introduced, allowing greater yields but contributing to the destruction of rain forests. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere else.

    3) It explains how best to go off coffee. This is important. If you try cold turkey, as most people probably do, the withdrawal symptoms will likely drive you right back to coffee.

    4) Helped me find a great resource for the latest studies at CaffeineAwareness.org

    5) Also, if you drink decaf you won’t want to miss this special free report on the dangers of decaf available at http://www.soyfee.com

  2. Please get OUT of my brain now! :)
    I’m going through the pros and cons of coffee drinking right now and agree that it can be a difficult addiction to give up.
    Funny thing though – I get all the coffee I want for free at work, and today I’m off work and haven’t had any coffee, nor am I having the usual splitting headache.
    BUT I did have a delicious raw fruit smoothie for breakfast.

    I’m no Sherlock Holmes (but I do write mysteries) but I am thinking that these two facts are connected :)

  3. Raj

    Congrats on quiting it, as for me. I am one of those lucky ppl who aren’t really addicted even though they have been having it for like many years. I have been drinking coffee for years in the mornings or whenever I feel like it but still there are periods when I go without coffee or even tea for days and don’t feel anything :) Cigarettes are the real problem for me and the tips you have posted for quitting coffee can be applied to quitting nicotine as well I think so I will just give it a whole-hearted shot and see what happens….

  4. This post brought a smile to my face. A few years ago my daughter would get fierce headaches and feel miserable whenever she came to visit. We didn’t know if it was the altitude (we live at 7200 feet) or if she was allergic to something in our apartment or what. Finally she had an “Oh, duh!” experience. She was suffering from caffeine withdrawal. She always drank a lot of coffee at work in order to get everything done. It worked all right until she went on vacation. :)

  5. Bill Freese

    Great article on caffeine. I just started to subscribe to your information after I read an article you had on Josh Hinds Motivation letter.

    I am in the process of trying to kick the coffee/caffeine habit. Part of the reason is for medical and trying to improve a heartburn condition and also just the bad effects I suffer from too much caffeine. After 2-3 cups of coffee my mind just races and it becomes very hard to concentrate and focus on the task at hand, also the late afternoon after effects of the morning caffeine habit. I am starting to enjoy decaf tea from Stash, which they say is naturally decaf. I believe I look forward to the hot beverage and I am finding out it’s not so much the coffee, although I really do enjoy a good cup of joe.

    Thanks again for the information and motivation, it’s certainly not an easy issue to tackle.

  6. Hi Tina,
    I have never been a coffee drinker. In fact, I don’t even drink alcohol. Coffee is defintely overconsumed and I hear that Starbucks coffee is the worse, i.e. burned, cold, additives, etc. The average American consumes enough caffeine in one year to kill a horse.

    Congrats on your choice to quit. Well done! That took courage.

    Btw, I’ve added you to my blogroll. :D

  7. I guess it depends on whether being addicted to coffee is the problem. Having too much of something is always no good, but coffee actually does reap benefits for people on a less regular basis.

    Like here

    Saying hi :)

  8. Ben

    For me, coffee is strictly for mornings and weekends. If I have a coffee during the day, as much as I like it; I do sweat more, and I feel so jumpy and anxious. Funnily enough, one cup a day in the morning didn’t affect me; but during the working day it makes me feel uncomfortable and throws my concentration.

  9. I gave up caffeine about five years ago, and didnt really feel any benefit.
    Then, I read about all the health ramifications of coffee addiction, and giving up caffeine popped up again on my radar screen.
    I’ve never smoked cigarettes, and I can see how people have a hard time getting off of those.
    A cup of coffee seems so much a part of my life right now. I’m definitely addicted to the stimulation.
    Perhaps I need to entertain my British side, and go the tea route.

  10. Tina Su! I am just right this minute saying no to coffee. Nine days and counting. How? Same way. I decided I loved a clean body more than brown teeth.

  11. gregory

    all you coffee quitters are on the leading edge of something… sure, people still buy macdonalds junk, but anybody with a brain goes for organic or natural … tis the same for coffee, it was of an era, a nice treat that became a habit, but now anyone with a brain will figure out all the costs and stop drinking the crap…

    i am from seattle, and remember when there was just one starbucks, in the whole world, and have seen this thing peak, and now it is dying, at least for those who are not sheep

    (so liberating to talk like an elitist snob, isn’t it?)

  12. Tina:

    When I discovered you had recently stumbled me at my blog, I had to go and learn more about you here.

    This article about coffee really intrigued me (in addition to the one you wrote on self love) because I LOVE coffee. I start each day with 2 cups while looking through emails from the night before. I love it.

    But I have had some headaches from caffeine withdrawal but not enough to force me to give it up. I’ve also experienced heighened sense of euphoria at times from coffee. I admit I LOVE it.

    Anyway, very nice blog. I’ve already subscribed via RSS and look forward to reading more of your stuff.

    BTW, I read your ABOUT page and found it to be warm, uplifting and energetic. It’s wonderful to see how you enjoy what you do with a passion and love. Great place to be!

  13. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 10 years old, but am not addicted. I drink it in the mornings only and I could easily quit if I needed to. I don’t ever crave it or feel like if I didn’t have it I’d be hurting.

    I love the title of your blog :)

  14. It’s a good thing I’m not addicted to coffee. 4-5 cups in the morning, 3-4 in the afternoon. But if I wanted to, I could only have 2 in the afternoon. I don’t usually want to, but if I did, I would.

    Good article. Keep ’em coming…

  15. Hi, Tina,
    I’ve just tagged you at Transforming Stress. It would great if you joined Peter’s meme on Think Different, but if you’re not interested just regard it as link love.

  16. Tina,

    So glad you gave up an addiction. Not sure I’ve ever tasted coffee in my entire life, so I really don’t know what it’s effect is.

    This is to remind you of the creative dreaming writing project kicking off tomorrow. I am still awaiting your article. ;)

    Stay blessed.

  17. Ever try teechino? It’s an awesome coffee substitute with no caffeine. Just do a google search for it.

  18. My wife and I do “30-day challenges” where we pick something to try to improve our lives for 30 days. Last month, I went off caffeine and I have to say that it was my toughest challenge to date. The first week was especially difficult.

    Congratulations to you.

  19. liam kearns

    Dont know if you are aware but there is more caffine in your average cup of Rosie(tea) than there is in coffee,

  20. Hi Tina,

    You never fail to produce top notch quality articles!

    I’ve never really thought much about giving up coffee; so in that sense, this article doesn’t really do much for me.

    However, I do love the way you presented quitting coffee like giving up a long term relationship with a special someone. That’s really creative, and it adds magic to your writing. Kudos!

  21. Good job! Now I’ve got two words: WHITE TEA. A nice and gentle hot beverage that will help you stay balanced.

  22. i have a very interesting and complicated relationship with coffee. went from drinking no coffee to drinking a bit to drinking 5-10 cups a week. then i cut out all caffeinated drinks because of restless leg syndrome, and that helped. then i couldn’t even drink decaf anymore. then i realized that i missed coffee so much that i actually prayed to be able to drink coffee again! now i drink two or three cups of decaf a week. stay tuned … :)

  23. I love the article. You have inspired me to take the challenge. I’ve been thinking about droppong coffee for a long time, but I keep coming up with excuses.

    I’m starting right now.

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