I cut out all forms of caffeine for 30 days as an experiment to see how it might affect some anxiety I was experiencing more regularly. Read on to find out what the process was like and the changes I noticed.
Toward the end of December last year (2019) I decided I wanted to cut out all forms of caffeine from my diet. I’ve always been sensitive to caffeine, and by sensitive I mean anxiety, racing heart, and in some cases, full-blown panic attacks have resulted from too much of it. Like that one time Sean and I got coffee from Starbucks on Canada Day. I’ll spare you the details, but it was not a good time.
Because of how I react to high amounts of caffeine, I’ve never been a coffee drinker. So my “30 days of no caffeine” challenge wasn’t to cut out coffee, but to cut out some other things I was probably consuming too much of, for me personally.
Most notably… matcha. Almond milk matcha lattes, to be exact.
Over the past 1.5 years I’ve developed a really big love for matcha. Not only has it become a favourite drink of mine, but it’s been my go-to at coffee shops when I head out to get some work done, and the caffeine jolt was becoming a crutch. I craved that boost of energy more often.
But let’s not forget regular green tea, a more recent favourite of mine, and of course: chocolate.
For the last few months of 2019 I was starting to notice heightened anxiety on a more regular basis. There was a clear correlation between anxiety levels and the days I’d have my matcha. So I began my 30 days of no caffeine on January 1st of 2020.
Cutting It Out
Cutting out matcha, green tea, and chocolate wasn’t really that hard at first. I definitely missed my lattes, the flavour of my hot green tea in the morning, and some chocolate after dinner, but overall it seemed pretty effortless. I started replacing my matcha lattes with tea lattes, like peppermint, made by frothing almond milk and adding in a teabag. I switched to decaf green tea and other herbal teas like chai. And I started consuming chocolate-free treats like my favourite pecan-stuffed dates and fruit-based desserts that I had fun creating.
After a few weeks, though, chocolate was definitely a more prominent thought. I missed it.
And full disclosure, there were a few times throughout my 30 day challenge where I did consume chocolate: my birthday, and another random night out with friends. My goal was not to be rigid and strict about this, but to just pay attention to how I was feeling. And chocolate on my birthday was perfectly reasonable.
The Changes I Noticed
After only a handful of days I noticed a decline in overall anxiety. Which made complete sense; I had removed an anxiety-inducing trigger. So that was nice.
But I also noticed something else. For a long time I was experiencing these disconcerting heart palpitations. I don’t know if that’s what I was medically experiencing, but it felt like my heart would flutter or a valve would get stuck and I’d lose my breath temporarily. That sounds horrible typing it out, but they actually entirely disappeared during the challenge, and still have (since I’ve continued to keep my caffeine intake low).
I also noticed that from reducing my chocolate intake, I was subsequently eating less sugar overall.
I’ve decided I’m going to continue with a lower overall caffeine intake because I’ve concluded that I do feel better and calmer without too much of it. I do miss matcha, but will enjoy it on occasion instead of regularly. And I’m enjoying my decaf green tea (I like the one by Yogi). Chocolate on the other hand, I still enjoy, but I’m more mindful of when I have it and how much per serving. Dark chocolate especially!
Overall, the experience helped me tune in better to how caffeine was affecting me. I’ve already known myself to be sensitive to it, but I’ve gained greater insights into how it makes me feel.
So, those are the results of my little 30-day challenge. Have you ever cut out caffeine before? Or are you a caffeine lover? I’d love to hear your experiences. Share below!
I have also always been highly sensitive to coffee (leading to quite heavy panic attacks, palpitations, etc.). But on the other hand I have always loved coffee: the smell, the taste. The best compromise I found was to only consume coffee on the week-ends only (on days that I would not leave the house), in this case it worked really well most of the time.
Since march this year I started working from home and as I didn’t have to go out, I gradually started to drink coffee almost every single day (sometimes twice a day…). My tolerence has quickly built up but I feel it still affects me (more impatient, tend to worry more for no reason etc.).
Your article gives me a good inspiration to try to lower my caffeine intake. First i will try to have a limit of 3 coffees par week instead of almost 7 and replace it by matcha if I really need a kick, and then slowly moving lower and lower.
Hi Anne! It sounds like you’re really in tune with how coffee makes you feel. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes for you as you experiment with lowering your caffeine intake again! Let me know how it goes 🙂