Dear Caffeine, I Love You But I Need Some Space

Remember to always discuss any major lifestyle or dietary changes with your primary care provider first, as changes may affect your mood or medical conditions. 

Dear Caffeine, I Love You But I Need Some Space

I do not have many vices. Given that, I have always felt like I am allowed one: caffeine. I have always been one of those people who cannot start their day without a cup of coffee, or so I thought. I have never thought of caffeine as a drug, or an addiction, or something that could cause so many issues. Little did I know, the caffeine I was consuming had those effects on me.

I have always had anxiety since I was little kid. I have had ventricular bigeminy since 2010. (Ventricular Bigeminy is a heart rhythm that has an extra heartbeat between every normal one. Some may feel heart palpitations when this happens, but many people don’t have symptoms.) I felt the palpitations but thought it was just normal and never thought anything of it. But then, I went to get my wisdom teeth removed and they could not perform the procedure because they caught this heart “defect” that I never knew I had. I noticed back in the Fall of 2022 that I was always tired, even after sleeping 8-9 hours a night. I also noticed that I had a sweet tooth, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The list goes on and on. But it all started making sense to me and I thought about what the root cause could be … DING – light bulb … TOO MUCH CAFFEINE.

A cup of coffee.

I did some research.

I decided to completely reboot myself, not only of the caffeine but also the overall importance of diet and exercise. Given that my husband owns a gym and is the most physically fit person I know, his progress and lifestyle has truly inspired me to make a change. I may have these diagnosis and they may never go away; however, I realized it could probably all be limited and less symptomatic if I cut back the caffeine.

I calculated the amount of caffeine I typically consumed in a day and realized I was drinking close to 1000mg a day! A. DAY! The average consumption should be approximately 400mg. By following the guidelines of a program I found on Beachbody (that helps walk you through the elimination or decrease of your caffeine intake), I would need to cut back to 200mg. In addition to that, I told myself NO MORE COKE ZERO / DIET COKE / DIET anything. I wanted to wean off of that type of caffeine completely. I also had a goal of only drinking coffee 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I told myself to buckle up and I also warned my husband; I may be moody over the next week or so and NO I am NOT on my cycle.

Day by Day 

Day 1 – I was fine. I had a cup of coffee in the morning and a pre workout which had 100mg of caffeine. I actually did not feel very tired on day 1.

Day 2 – I am not being funny when I say this. I felt like I needed to be checked in to some sort of rehab. I was having terrible shakes. I had a horrid headache and I felt super nauseous. I had not had caffeine yet that day, so I decided to hurry and have an iced tea. Instantly, I felt better. It honestly scared me that I was addicted to something and felt so poorly. This was my sign, I needed to keep it up. I don’t want to have to rely on anything like that.

Women with headache from decreasing caffeine.

Day 3 – I was craving my fountain soft drink, but not too terribly. The headaches were still there (no amount of Ibuprofen was getting rid of them), but they were much milder by this day.

Day 4 – WOW! Why didn’t I do this a long time ago. I was sleeping like a baby. I was dreaming again which tells me 2 things: I was not getting into REM cycle which also caused me to be so tired.

I realized I don’t need caffeine like I thought I did. I can go days without it and I don’t even realize it. If I am feeling tired, I will make a cup of tea, and it usually perks me up. My body does not crave it. If you have struggled with being as reliant on caffeine as I have, I highly encourage you to try to cut back. No one should ever cut it cold turkey, and some caffeine is okay, but it truly has changed my palpitations, my moods and my sleep. I am not going to lie, the 2nd and 3rd days were difficult and I had trouble focusing on anything other than my withdrawal symptoms, but I would do it 10 times over to feel like I do right now.

I just don’t know why I did not do my research sooner and feel better a long time ago.

Check out these Caffeine Free or Low Caffeine Drink Options:

Caffeine Free Drink Ideas

Little Caffeine or None Beverages

Lastly, beware of caffeine in hiding: Hidden Caffeine Sources

Erika Lockhart
My name is Erika Lockhart and I am married to my husband, Chris. We have two children - Zane (7) and Finnley (2). We also have one 4 – legged child - Nelson a mixed breed rescue and a tarantula named Twitch. I was born and raised in Harvey, LA but now live in Metairie. I am a full time employee for a healthcare consulting company where I lead the Primary Care Provider engagement efforts from my home office here in NOLA. My husband is the owner and director of Clockwork Performance - A strength and performance gym in Kenner, LA. Odd facts about me - I love watching Judge Judy, I want to be on jury duty as much as possible, I have an obsession with mayonnaise and my dream job is to be a private investigator!


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