This is the third time I’m embarking on a quest to decaf. It is usually triggered by observing the effect of all the coffee and tea that I’m drinking: jumpiness, difficulty getting up in the morning, generally being an arse… The signs are pretty unmistakable, that I’ve had a bit too much…

The first time it was a very special experience, many aspects really stayed with me. The most important memory I carry over is the expected way the caffeine withdrawal should play out, based on this first time. The first week is kinda easy. The second is harder. The third was really rough, I reverted to pretty much to be a manchild, (figuratively) banging on the table and shouting “I am a grownup, I can have coffee whenever I want!” Then the last week was very good, much better mood, much more balanced physical functions too. It was bliss. Was almost strange to stay in that state for only a week, and resuming having coffee .

The second time was less memorable but had its own lessons. The rough phase happened much earlier and was less rough. Also, I think I had a hard time working around this no-caffeine limitation when going out. Seemed like every drink that I could have either had caffeine in it, or was full of sugar, or was just not worth the price, such as a single tea bag in a cup of water the same price as cappuccino in many cafés? Still survived, and was worth it, even if this second time was less transformative than the first.

This third time I started again because of the warning signs listed earlier were unmistakable. 📅 Today’s day 6 and so far it went down as such :

  • Day 1: really big coffee craving, feeling almost useless the whole day, crashing at 10pm (hours before previous sleep time). 😴
  • Day 2: quite refreshed after long sleep, almost no craving, this should be eeeeeasy. 😁
  • Day 4: cravings slowly creep back, for example when others have coffee around me, just by smelling them. Starting to have enough of the teas I’m having. 😧
  • Day 6: the “child tantrums” are lurking, I catch myself with similar thoughts already. On the other hand, waking up better in the morning, and not feeling especially tired through the day, much more even energy. I, however, catch myself thinking “this goes well so far, I wonder what should be the first drink to have when I’m finished, to make it special?” This is really my brain subverting the effort. 🙄
Illustration, this happened a long while back in Paris.

I’ve also tried to do a little bit more thinking and checking when starting. For the hot beverage cravings, I choose more rooibos (or red bush) teas or flower/fruit teas if need to. I have to say, I couldn’t really stand the flavour of rooibos tea before, but now I’m acclimatized to it. Don’t think I would ever choose over all the wonderful (but caffeinated) teas of Taiwan if I had a choice, but I think it will carry me over. There are other drinks like MILO that I can fall back to. Curiously enough, decaf coffee still has caffeine in it (just much less), I’m still on the fence whether having that is acceptable within the rules of this game, but the jury is still out on that one…

Another change is cutting down on chocolate as well (or actually skipping it as much as possible), as that has caffeine as well. I guess that’s a win on the sugar side too, but have to watch snacks in general. Having said that, I do feel that when the craving moods hit, a piece of dark chocolate would sort me out – have not tried (as playing by my own rules), but I’m pretty certain it would work.

This time to match some plans that I already had in place, I choose not “1 month”, but a 5-week interval for this detox. There’s a clear ending (with a trip at the end of the 5 weeks) that makes the whole experiment self-contained, which feels nice. Also, when I get to the bliss-phase, hopefully, I should have a bit more time to enjoy it.

In the meantime, hope everyone else can enjoy their choice of drinks ☕, regardless of what silly things I myself am trying to do…

Published by Gergely Imreh

Physicist, hacker. Enjoys avant-guarde literature probably a bit too much. Open source advocate and contributor, both for software and hardware.

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