I’ve never tried a 5-hour Energy shot, Red Bull or Monster energy drink. I gave up soft drinks before high school, and I don’t have a Starbucks habit. I sometimes purchase herbal/decaf tea and decaf coffee.*
Chocolate is the only caffeine-containing food or beverage I don’t avoid. Because, well, chocolate. And I typically don’t notice much of a buzz from chocolate. Anyways…
I avoid caffeine because it makes me feel Bad with a capital B.
It’s a cycle of up and down. The ups are a little too synthetically up, and the downs are really down. Down enough that I want to prevent myself from feeling That Bad.
All it takes is remembering how low I feel when I’m hooked on caffeine and “need” it, or how badly a caffeine headache feels, and the appeal of a latte or soda quickly vanishes. Mood swings are sure to accompany the highs and lows, and that just makes me feel even worse.
There was a time in my life – college – when I had convinced myself that caffeine was necessary. My weeks were more hectic and my schedule was more erratic. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to carve out a lifestyle that provides more stability and less stress. We don’t have kids, pets or other big responsibilities to tend to, which means I have a lot of control over matters related to sleep and energy usage. I believe I use that freedom wisely.
So how do I live without caffeine?
- Sleep is a priority. I aim for 7-8 hours every night and I don’t stray too far with my sleep schedule from day-to-day. Generally I’m in bed by 10 p.m. and awake by 8 a.m. I don’t snooze. It’s a privilege, yes, but it’s also a choice.
- Exercise is important too. I exercise most days. This helps me fall asleep and stay asleep through most of the night. Exercise also helps me get out of bed in the mornings because I look forward to going to the gym and beating the traffic.
- I get a lot of energy from morning workouts. The pep in my step comes from within instead of from a carafe. If you’ve never tried exercising in the mornings, you’re really missing out.
- Watch the sugar. Sometimes sugar can affect my energy levels, especially mid-afternoon. I try not to eat or drink too much sugar at once, for fear of succumbing to a “sugar low.” Caffeine is often accompanied by loads of sugar or artificial sweeteners (I’m looking at you, soda), which is a double whammy. More ups and downs and highs and lows to contend with. Avoid!
- Pinch the pennies. Let’s face it. I’m way too frugal cheap to pay for a soda with each meal. And I’m definitely not going to pay $4 for mediocre black decaf. There’s a reason why it’s become a cliche to point to the savings you could reap by skipping the morning latte. It adds up fast. Don’t be a cliche.
This is all pretty basic stuff. Not a silver bullet, but not rocket science either. This is how I live without caffeine.
*But isn’t decaf coffee supposed to be worse for you because of the nasty chemicals they use to extract the caffeine? I did some homework years ago and found the “Swiss Water Process” that doesn’t use solvents. It is more expensive and the taste is only so-so. I’m not a snob when it comes to coffee (obviously, I drink decaf), so it’s good enough for me. I buy Private Selection Swiss Water Decaf from Kroger.
What do you think?
- Can you go a day without caffeine?
- Decaf coffee: yay or nay?