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Caffeine Detox

Vero, Yellow Kite publicist, was on a caffeine detox last week. Here’s how she found it:

For me, caffeine has been a dietary staple for the last twenty years. Raised by two second generation Anglo-Irish parents cups of tea have been a means of punctuating the passing of every hour for as long as I can remember.

A’level studying and years of living in an all-female house of seven at Uni did little to diminish my love of the leaf. It also triggered a coffee obsession which quickly became a crutch during late night exam cramming and, when strapped for cash, helped to make out-of-date Digestives digestible as they were dunked in to the milky liquid during episodes of “Doctors”.

On arrival into London ten years ago, the accessibility of frothy/foamy sweet sweet coffee nectar on every street corner saw my dependency on this pocket-friendly drug soar. I couldn’t get enough: black coffee for breakfast, latte at lunch, then tea tea tea until bed.

To say I was addicted to caffeine was an understatement. A cheap thrill that pleasures and pulsates through your bloodstream in such an innocent manner can hardly be a bad thing, can it?

Then I did some reading around… Numerous views state the side that caffeine is not as harmless as you might think. Plus is such a dependency on anything ever good for you? Sooooo, I chose to quit for a week and to my surprise it was relatively easy….ish:

Mornings were the worst with no mug of fun to distinguish between sleep and the waking day. I stared longingly at the happy customers leaving Prets and Starbucks with their paper cups of double-mocha-frappacinos.

They warned of headaches in the first few days of ‘withdrawal’ which I luckily managed to escape. In their stead were a mild sluggish feeling and constant yawning and needing to apologise to colleagues/friends/family that this was not a reflection on their ‘chat’. I also found myself getting more easily irritated.

I stockpiled herbal teas – thinking that drinking these might help to distract me. Within two days I’d given up on these – how many near-flavourless watery fruit infusions can one body consume in 24 hours?

Four days in saw the ultimate test – a long weekend away in a cottage in the Lake District woods with my extended family. Here the days revolved around meals and drinks, drinks and meals. Cries of “Who’s for tea?” and “Pot of coffee on the side” echoed around the house bi-hourly. It was then I realised that the thing I missed the most from my caffeine-boycott was the sociability. So much is shared in those moments perched by the kettle or over a shared pot of piping-hot goodness. It’s nice to make a tea for someone, nice to have one made for you. I didn’t enjoy being the odd one out – “oh just a water for me, thanks” was not a phrase I’m accustomed to.

A thing I didn’t miss however was the slightly unnerving heart palpitations that occasionally come from having one shot too many. I found I slept much better by the end of the week, waking each morning after a full night’s deep sleep. It’s cheaper too – looking back at my bank balance it turns out I spend a lot on take away coffees.

The week was a lesson that although I don’t need caffeine in my life, one or two cups of the stuff a day is something of a treat.