Diary of an Ex-Coffeeholic

We’ve all seen those quirky, customizable mugs on Etsy that your high school English teacher probably brought to school every morning, with some sort of mildly aggressive quote warning passers-by of what happens to them without caffeine.

 

Exhibit A:

 

 

Image from Etsy

 

Exhibit B:

 

 

Image from Etsy

 

I used to roll my eyes at Mr./Mrs. so-and-so and their arbitrarily overpriced drinkware announcing their love of coffee–but I have since realized my mistakes.

Don’t let the artisanal, Tumblr-esque font of these mug quotes fool you: what your (probably overworked) high school teachers were–and what I am–warning you of was the addictive, destructive power of coffee (in excess).

Back in the olden days (aka, approximately two months ago) I started my day with coffee, had my lunch with my coffee, ended my day with coffee, and sometimes threw in a fourth cup of coffee sometime in between just for the hell of it. Because why not, amiright?

 

Image from giphy

 

Well I’ll tell you ‘why not.’ One fateful day, in the dead of dead week last quarter, I gulped down two almond milk lattes on an empty stomach and confined myself to one of the library’s quiet floors to study for finals. Not even an hour in, my hands began trembling and my heart started beating like crazy (think angsty-thirteen-year-old-meeting-billie-eilish-level palpitations). At first, I figured it was because I had a pretty small breakfast, so I ate a snack and waited...and waited...and waited. But the shaking didn’t subside.

Pretty soon, I couldn’t stay in my seat–much less focus on the work that I had so graciously downed 300+ mg of caffeine for. So, I did what I probably should’ve done in the first place: I went the f*** to sleep. I’m unashamed to say that I plopped down headfirst on one of the tables on the fifth floor of the Davidson Library and took an hour-long nap.

 

Image by giphy

 

Although the number of cases of caffeine overdoses is pretty low, the fact remains that an excess of caffeine is not great (read: pretty bad) for your body. In fact, caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world.

I am definitely not saying (or even implying!) that I had a caffeine overdose, but I do know that I did not feel like myself after those two lattes. And just to dispel any comments that my symptoms were due to 'something else,' I’ll have you know that my symptoms were a pretty clear sign of caffeine overconsumption.

Some possible side effects of consuming too much caffeine include insomnia, anxiousness, fast, heart rate, an upset stomach, a headache, and even a feeling of unhappiness–and this is all according to the F-D-freaking-A. So there.

 

Image from giphy

Same, Nick. Same.

But, even with these cold hard facts clawing at the back of my mind, I brushed them off and reasoned that I could handle the throbbing head pains for the next few days. And I did. And that’s my main qualm with coffee and caffeine in general.

Yes, I acknowledge that not everyone ingests an excessive amount of caffeine on the daily (thank god). But for those that do, or even for those who veer towards the 400mg FDA cap just to be conscious for their 8 am's, coffee is a way to undermine a very basic, human need: sleep. 

I  cannot generalize or speak for all coffee drinkers, but when I still drank coffee religiously, every three hours spent not asleep at night could be ‘solved’ with an extra shot in my latte. My health started playing second fiddle to the number of hours I could spend awake, but I wasn’t even focused during those waking hours. It didn’t make sense.

So I did what every little league coach tells you not to do: I quit. Well, kind of. I stopped drinking coffee, which has about 95 to 165 mg of caffeine per 8 oz serving in comparison to 25 to 29 in the same amount of tea.

I began making and drinking my own matcha latte every morning, which not only has less caffeine but also keeps you energized for longer thanks to the amino acid L-theanine. Also, since my DIY matcha latte became my only source of caffeine, I was much less likely to get coffee while I was out or in between classes.

The first week of this swap was definitely not fun. I was moody, hungry (some research touts caffeine as an appetite suppressant but it’s still debatable whether this is true or not), unfocused, and surprise surprise: tired.

 

Image by giphy

But my weird heart palpitations stopped. I hadn’t noticed this prior to my coffee cleanse, but I would have random bursts of jitteriness and anxiety throughout the day when I was still a devout coffeeholic. I was happier.

Also, without coffee to support my not-great sleeping habits, I began clocking in more time to sleep so I’d actually be able to get up and function in class without 300+ mg of caffeine coursing through my veins.

I’m slowly working my way towards eliminating caffeine from my diet altogether, but I’m proud to say that I’ve cut my daily caffeine intake in half so far.

This article is definitely not meant to tell you to not drink coffee, or that coffee is inherently bad, or that everyone who ingests coffee (or caffeine in general) is doing it excessively, because none of those things are true.

 

Image by giphy

I really just wanted to show that for the small minority that I was once a part of, coffee was a way to ignore my body’s needs just to be awake, which in hindsight wasn’t even productive. So if any of my feelings (or symptoms) resonated with you, I recommend going on your own caffeine cleanse to pinpoint what works for you.

Whether that means one cup of coffee every morning, no coffee at all, or something in between, make sure that you’re putting how you feel first–because that is the most important.