Caffeine: Friend or Foe?

Last night was a LONG night. I received a swift reminder about WHY I don’t consume caffeine anymore, and holy cow I guess I needed it.

Let me start off by saying that I used to be a diet coke/Starbuck’s soy latte ADDICT. Seriously. Everyday, multiple times a day. These products were pretty much the center of my universe and “my day revolved around knowing where my supply was, how much I had left, and if I ran out where I would get more.” LOL the true words of an addict my friends. I had been known to leave work and drive 15-20 minutes to the closest gas station, and back, wasting a precious amount of my day, just to get a diet coke. That’s almost an entire lunch break if you think about it. Luckily my job is more flexible and I don’t have a timed lunch break, but overall it was wasted time. Don’t even get me started on my more costly addiction to Starbucks lattes. At $5.00 a drink my wallet was easily drained of $50.00 or so a week. That’s $200 a month on COFFEE drinks! AHHHHHHHHH!

Coffee is a controversial subject among folks and I’ve joined heated debates about the benefits and drawbacks of the substance. The reason I gave up soda and coffee was because of the caffeine and sugar factors. I also overindulged in these products so often and decided the only way to rid them of my life was to eliminate them entirely. However, everybody is different. If your daily cup of coffee seems too sweet to part with, who cares? It’s your life so do what makes you feel best. In general coffee is full of antioxidants and 1 or 2 cups a day is still FAR less caffeine consumption than my espresso-jolted latte indulgences. I was drinking 3 to 4 diet cokes a day, along with 1 to 2 venti soy lattes (easily 4 shots of espresso in each one) so I was OVERDOING it big time. Not to mention, I also bartended for many years in my early twenties and energy drinks were my main source of nutrition on late night shifts. I was abusing my body. I had become so dependent on the caffeine that without it I suffered irritability, headaches and dizziness. Dependency on a substance is when withdrawal symptoms are experienced when you discontinue use. It is safe to say I was dependent, or even addicted, to caffeine.

Okay I’ll stop talking about the good ol’ days and get to my point.

So I quit. I quit caffeine. A little over 18 months ago. Some people will say it’s about as difficult as quitting smoking. I mean seriously the stuff is hard to kick to the curb. They say it takes at least 3 weeks to break a habit, and let me tell you, those were a miserable three weeks. But I did it, and I barely eventually survived. Let me tell you, I felt so much better afterwards. My sleeping habits improved, I lost weight, and I no longer suffer irritability by feeling “I can’t get my caffeine fix in time.”

But I still like the taste of coffee. I also enjoy the social setting of grabbing a cub of coffee with a friend. Soo… I decided a once-in-a-blue-moon decaf soy cappuccino, in a social setting, was allowed.

Which brings me to the point of this long-winded rambling post. I indulged yesterday. And i forgot to order decaf! I think I was too busy trying to decide which flavor of biscotti to split with my girlfriend, who was saving a table for us, rather than focus on my drink order. The words “I’ll have a soy cappuccino for here please” slipped out of my mouth like slippery honey. I also FORGOT that a grande is bigger than a tall, and asked for “one size larger than my friend’s coffee”… and was given a VENTI! AHHHHHHHHHH. So how does a former-addict react when faced with her previous drug of choice!? Well as soon as I saw the astronomical SIZE of the drink I had ordered, something in the back of my brain CLICKED and I realized I also forgot to order decaf.  OYYY!

So I shrugged my shoulders, glanced at the clock and saw that it was 3 in the afternoon, and decided to not return the drink and make the barista irritable, but rather suck it up and enjoy a coffee with a friend. But I got so caught up with catching up with my girlfriend, and talking about her wedding planning and all the fun stuff, that I drank almost all of it. Again—OYYY! But how bad could it be, really?? I was certain the caffeine would be out of my system by the end of the night, and one measly drink would not affect my day too badly. I assumed wrong my friends. 

First I developed a horrible headache around 4 in the afternoon that would NOT go away. After popping some asprin and hitting the books for a study session, the pain only slightly dissipated. I sucked it up and agreed to go out to dinner with my grandparents and cousin. We had a wonderful time but I spent most of dinner rubbing my severely dry-eyes and trying not to focus on the dull pain in the back of my head. I returned home to more studying but found myself very restless, and at the hour of my normal bedtime, around midnight, still very wide awake. I finally turned the lights off and attempted to get some sleep around 2 am but tossed and turned all night long. I didn’t fall asleep until almost 6 am. ARE YOU KIDDING ME CAFFEINE!?!? WHAT THE HELL DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS!?!?

Lesson learned. My body is no longer tolerant of this drug. And yes, caffeine is a drug. It affects everybody differently, and some are more tolerant than others, but it really showed me yesterday how a caffeine-free system responds to being exposed after so long. The only caffeine intake I ever have these days is in the small amount of chocolate I use in baking and the occasional green tea, although even that I try to buy decaf.

Thank you Caffeine, for the kick-in-the-butt reminder yesterday, that I no longer want anything to do to you. It’s like having a ex-boyfriend over for dinner and drinks. Probably not a good idea ladies.

How do you feel about caffeine? Do you still partake or have you kicked it to the curb?
Are you addicted to caffeine and trying to quit?
Or do you love your coffee too much to give it up and feel that there are no downfalls for you with caffeine consumption?

Peace, love & veggies… nap time!

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