Should You do a Caffeine Cleanse? Here's Why & How I Did It.
Hey girl, I’m glad I didn’t scare you away with this title 😅!! I know just the idea of saying goodbye to your morning coffee...or matcha 🍵 or tea is literally terrifying for most of us. It certainly was for me, but as this summer started winding down, a whole life reset was calling my name. One thing after the other was happening: Leaving my job in social media for good, going on a long family trip, starting my senior year of college, changing majors, and hormonal issues that were getting exasperated by the stress of it all (hello acne??!!). AKA craziness...aka LIFE.
Anywho, while on my 3 week family trip, I got a lot of time to assess how I wanted to hit the reset button in literally every area of my life and per usual, my health was number one on my list. Why? Because I have learned time and time again that if you feel sh*tty, everything else will follow by example. Cue reset.
So, just a little background on How I was feeling pre-cleasne
I am a caffeine addict. I’m not even going to attempt to say, “was an addict” because I know deep down it’s always going to be apart of me 🤷🏽♀️. Being half Swedish, coffee ☕️ basically runs through my veins. I remember the first time I had coffee at 13 years old on a family trip to Sweden and despite my parents being highly against my early start, that was it. Done! Till death due us part (or so I thought).
I love the taste first and foremost, but it was the surge of energy I got that really had me heavily addicted. For those of you with similar, always-going personality types, you probably understand the most what that extra boost can do! It makes you feel unstoppable...until the crash.
Well, over the past year or so, my energy levels have not been where they should be. For as clean as I eat and active as I am, I was feeling drained more or less everyday for at least a portion of the day...despite having one or more caffeinated drinks. You know that feeling of waking up feeling a 4 on the energy scale out of 10, having a coffee, reaching somewhere between 7-9, then falling back to a 3 or 4 by 3pm??
If we are being honest, it became my new "normal" and I looked forward to that one or two hours post-caffeine where all was right in the world knowing that I was going to pay for it with feeling foggy for the rest of the day. Crazy how fast we get use to things, huh?
So, despite attempting to give it up cold turkey multiple times over the summer, each time ending in a desperate run back to the Groundwork Coffee line or Intelligentsia matcha, by the very end of my summer, *post trip to Sweden aka coffee drinking capital of the world*, I was done. I was so drained, so ready to feel alive and bright again that I just did it. For three weeks...not long, but long enough.
By the end of the three weeks, my energy levels were restored to pre-coffee days...which for me is just 12 years old with "kid" energy...As in wake-UP with energy for a workout, no 3pm crash and really, really good sleep. I know it may come off like I'm talking this up, but honestly, the whole experience was so dramatic, I can assure you, I'm not.
Though I was determined to give my body a break, it was still hard for me to imagine working out, going to class, and doing life without it. Being the psychology major I am, I analyzed myself and basically realized most of it was in my head. So, what I needed was a plan of attack...
How I did it
1) I wrote down a start and end date--3 weeks is the magic number.
I'm really big into goals--give me a time line and things become clear to me. So, I found that literally writing in my planner (or Calendar app) the day I was going to start and the day I was going to potentially end the cleanse made it seem more like a challenge than a difficult burden. Also, everyday I stuck to my goal, I would make a note of it in my planner which made me feel accomplished as silly as that may sound.
I chose three weeks because it can take a week or more for the withdrawal symptoms to subside. By the middle of week 2, the pendulum had begun to swing upward and I could feel my energy levels starting to be restored. By the end of the three weeks, my body was producing energy on it's own again and I could decide if I wanted to have a matcha out of desire rather than out of desperate need. You may find you no longer have a need for caffiene and may choose to extend the cleanse indefinitely...! Up to you :)
2) I was really busy.
So your gut instinct may tell you that you should do a cleanse when you don't have much to worry about, therefore giving you wiggle room during your days of withdrawal--*if you have withdrawal that is*! That's actually exactly what you DON'T want to do. I specifically chose to start my cleanse at the start of school because I knew that I wouldn't have much time to overthink about not being able to have my morning cup of matcha. Had I had a bunch of time on my hands, I would have had the time to think and mull over the fact that I feel crappy without caffeine making the whole process more painful than it had to be. In other words, stay busy, distract yourself.
3) I gave up grains and most fruits at the same time (in other words I went low-carb).
Now if you know me at all its that I prefer to eat plant-based...lots of whole grains, fruits...the good carbs. Well though those are perfectly healthy for most people, carbs whole grain or not, affect your energy levels differently than fats and protein becuase of the insulin release that occurs when you eat carbs. That being said, your body is more prone to feeling highs and lows when eating a lot of carbs which is the last thing I wanted when I knew my energy would already be low during the first week or so without caffeine. So, I stuck to mostly lean proteins, healthy fats (like avocados) and lots of veggies.
*I unintentionally dropped some water weight while going low-carb, so that's a plus if you have been wanting to shed a few pounds! I on the other hand really didn't need to, but I just thought I'd let ya know...;)
4) I found a ritual-replacement.
Did you think I would really give up my morning matcha ritual without a replacement...HA! Yeah no...mornings are so sacred to me and a morning drink is always always always apart of that. So I turned to 2 drinks. First was Yoot dandelion tea and the second was Teecino, a caffeine-free herbal coffee alternative that I ordered off Amazon!
I made sure that the first day of my cleanse I had my new drinks on hand, ready to whip up like I would my matcha. The important part here is the ritual. Drinking coffee or tea in the morning is more of a ritual to some than to others, but it's rituals that are close to our heart and the hardest to conceive abandoning. So don't abandon it, alter it!
Honestly, by week two, I genuinely forgot that I wasn't drinking real coffee with Teccinno and looked forward to making it just as much I did with matcha before.
5) I kept the end goal in mind.
Easier said than done, but it's a must. There were days (like day 3 and 4) that hit me hard. I found myself wondering why on EARTH I would put myself through this? Then I'd take a few moments to just reflect on how I had been feeling and how I wanted to feel. I am pretty sure I had adrenal fatigue and I knew for a fact that it would be all uphill after the withdrawal symptoms wore off. So, I'd order or make myself another herbal tea, pour it over ice and sip on that instead.
Was it really worth it?
Before starting the cleanse, I had a good idea that it would be, but wasn't 100% sure if the pros would outweigh the cons. Turns out, it was very well worth the drama. For 2 main reasons: energy and anxiety. Caffeine will only cause an effect for so long-- I had exhausted my adrenal glands so much, the boost I would get from caffeine was extremely short lived. Clearing it out of my system restored my own energy levels AND reset my caffeine tolerance. I had ordered a small matcha from Dulce the other day and was energized all.day.long. SUCESS!
As for my anxiety, I basically got the chance to deal with it head on without the added stimulating effects of caffeine. I stopped the cycle if you will, and realized that high stress times should cause me to cut back on caffeine, not increase.
So, if I had to do it again, I would and I probably will every few months from this point onward to prevent draining my adrenals like I had for so long. My hope is to avoid the terrible crash I had after so many years of consistent caffeine consumption.
Should you do it?
Now, this is completely up to the state of your body and mind. My best advice is to just ask yourself where your energy levels are. Be honest, nobody has to know but you. If you're struggling to make it through the day let alone get up in the morning, your body is begging for a cleanse and will reward you 10 fold if you just listen.
As for me, I'm back to drinking matcha in moderation. I haven't restocked my cupboard with it at home and don't plan to. I no longer want to be reliant, but instead use it as a tool *hello exams, busy days with friends and intense workouts*
Thank you for reading, I hope this helps you heal and thrive in some way--Much love