One year ago today, I consumed my last deliberate caffeine.
No, really. I know that seems pretty much impossible in ths age of coffee, but it's true. I don't remember the last cup, as it happens - it would have been a Sunday night, but nothing more than that has stayed with me.So I thought I'd give it a go for a week or so, see if I suffered the same symptoms as last time, and then it just took on a life of its own. The last time I tried, I went cold turkey from around 6 or 7 cups a day. I suffered two days of dreadful headaches and by the end of a week, was actually suffering tremors. That time, I went back to one strong cup a day, and that's where I started from last year. There were no real physical effects to begin with; then after a couple of days, I began to notice how tired I was, and even now, I still expect to have more energy than I actually do - this does, of course, have several other contributing factors, but I still feel it as a lack of stimulant at certain points in the day. About an hour after lunch is usually the worst - no surprise, I suppose, but the loss of the post-prandial espresso is very noticeable if it's hot, or quiet.
And that's probably the most difficult part of the day, because everyone has an after-lunch espresso, and the smell fills the air for about half an hour. You see, I love coffee. I love everything about it except for the effect it has on my brain. So even walking down the street can be torture, as I pass Starbucks after Starbucks. I would comfort eat, but I gave up chocolate, too. Is there actually caffeine in chocolate? Of course there is. Alternatively, there isn't - I decided not to take any chances, so I have been a chocolate-free zone for a year, too. That part, strangely, has been relatively easy, considering where I work. I think that, as I have got older, my sweet tooth has abated a little - I do miss it sometimes, but not so's you'd notice.
So, I hear you ask, aghast, how on earth do I do it? Well, it's not too difficult. I found viable alternatives in the hot drinks stakes quite early on, and you'd be surprised how many places serve fruit teas and so on, if you just ask. The best seem to be the London Fruit and Herb company teas - I would link to them, if they had a website - full of fruit flavour, without being overly sweet. I probably eat slightly more than I did before, mostly savoury things, and I get past the coffee shops by just pretending that I can't smell them. Mostly I get by because I feel a lot better without the effects of caffeine - the depression is a lot more manageable; none of the mood swings which coffee seemed to induce; I have fingernails, as noted before, and although I'm tired, it somehow feels like a healthy tired, if that makes sense. I also seem to get fewer colds, although I have no idea whether that is related...
How long will I keep this up? I have no idea. I rather like the effect, but I also still crave coffee every now and then. Perhaps in a moment of weakness, I'll be tempted by a Snickers bar, or something, but I hope not. See you in another year.