Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Lying there on the couch for a much-needed rest after making and eating dinner with the family, the realization came to me: it’s time for a change.

Caffeine, I need you out of my life.

I’ve done it once before, when trying a friend’s (and fellow dietitian’s) detox-style eating plan for a few weeks. Letting go of coffee was the easiest part of that plan, after the initial headaches subsided.

It all began innocently enough. Since I was in middle school (don’t judge), I’ve enjoyed my morning mug of coffee. Sometime around my early 30s one cup turned into the occasional two. Then two-a-day became a habit. I’d have a cup of coffee in the morning while my kids ate breakfast and I got their bags ready for school. After dropping them off I’d return home for my own breakfast, which also included a piping hot cup of coffee alongside whatever I decided to eat that morning. I’d bring my meal and coffee up to my office, sift through my inbox and read the morning headlines while cradling my mug, letting the coffee waft and hit my nose. It was a ritual.

Sometimes for lunch, I’d grab a can of Diet Coke since plain water was getting boring and it was too early to switch over to sparkling water (that’s for dinnertime, of course). Suddenly, I realized I was depending on this caffeine trifecta to get me through the day.

Striking out the soda was pretty easy. As for the coffee, I tried to wean myself off the second cup, substituting green tea instead. And that worked…sometimes. But that day of the post-dinner repose I had had two cups of coffee in the morning, followed by a medium-sized fountain soda with my lunch (very uncharacteristic, but I had an errand to run that day, forcing me to grab lunch on the go). After working all day, driving around to pick up the kids, and preparing and eating dinner, I had the overwhelming urge to just lie down. I was crashing. That’s when it hit me: caffeine was a culprit and not a companion.

My plan is to cut down to one caffeinated cup per day. If I feel the urge for another cup, I’ll switch to decaf. It’s more about the flavor or the need for a hot beverage to warm my hands and insides than it is for the caffeine jolt. Eventually, perhaps I will switch to green tea exclusively for my caffeine fix, and then perhaps graduate to herbal tea exclusively for my morning pick-me-up, kicking the caffeine habit for good. Preferably without any headache side-effects.

Were you able to break up with caffeine? Tell me how you did it.

Published by

Elana Natker, MS, RD

I'm a dietitian, communications professional, wife, mother - just your typical modern-day woman trying to juggle it all.

6 thoughts on “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

  1. I hear you! I broke up with caffeine in college after a super large serving of iced coffee meant to help me pull an all-nighter sent me over the edge and gave me palpitations instead. Now I’m sensitive to it. I’m actually envious of those who can use caffeine as a pick-me-up. I do enjoy it in green tea, somehow that’s OK.


  2. I can relate! I love my cup of coffee in the morning, and yes, more about the aroma and warmth than anything. I can only do 1 though otherwise I’m too jittery. Sometimes I do herbal tea later in the day or put a little Stur flavoring in my water if I need a little flavor. Good luck!


  3. caffeine and i are always on and off..i love caffeine and was addicted to it esp during my internship and while preparing to take my RD exam..however, i was having a bad breakout during the same time and mentally i kept on telling myself that its coffee thats doing this to you (it probably was just lack of sleep and stress) it was little easy for me to stay away from it. with that being said, if i smell freshly brewed coffee, i always get it…and another thing i did was give away my coffee maker. now i drink tea religiously and coffee, only on the weekends/traveling/or the above mentioned smell.


    1. I hear you, Dixya! Do you try decaf ever, or is the limited coffee you already drink enough to not give you the negative outcomes? I usually don’t like decaf, but I think if I want a green tea one day, I might need to grab a decaf coffee instead of my usual regular so I don’t get too wired.


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