Giving Up Coffee for 21 Days

April 8, 2014

Giving Up Coffee for 21 Days

Of all the vices in the world, coffee is perhaps one of the most innocuous. Some people sip java for energy; others simply enjoy the ritual of grinding, pouring, and sipping. Me? I’m hardly dependent on coffee, but in the past few months, I’ve drastically increased my intake for one reason or another. The result: increased facial oiliness and acne, headaches, and anxiety, among other things. Finally, after some thought, I decided it was time I bite the bullet and go on a 21-day coffee fast.

A popular theory posits that it takes 21 days to break a habit and form a new one. I’m not entirely convinced that the 21-day rule is enough to foster lasting change, but I do think it is an earnest start to manifest healthier habits.

I started my cleanse last week, with one last almond milk café au lait and a vegan scone from one of my favorite cafes in Boston. I should note that, for me, coffee often encourages poor food choices. Whenever I’m holding a hot espresso in my hands, I generally yearn for vegan baked goods. So, by way of eliminating coffee from my life, I’m also drastically reducing the amount of unnecessary sugar and processed flour I consume.

My first day wasn’t particularly noteworthy. My head ached a bit when I arrived at work—the time I would generally pour myself a cup—but other than that, I felt unaffected. Interestingly, caffeine is estimated to have a half-life of 5.7 hours, meaning that it may not have been completely out of my system at the start of my experiment. Although caffeine is touted as a great concentration aid, I found that I was better able to carry out my tasks at work without it pumping through my veins. Subsequent days were more trying, as I began to experience more of the characteristic headaches associated with caffeine withdrawal. Instead of popping an aspirin, I made a whole lot of herbal tea to sip throughout the day and into the evening.

Now, about a week into my coffee fast, these are the positive changes I’ve experienced:

-I’m falling asleep earlier and sleeping deeper
-I’m experiencing more facial oiliness, but I attribute this to my body’s natural release of toxins
-My body’s cues of tiredness are much more predictable
-I’m feeling less anxious
-I don’t feel as groggy when I wake up each morning

As I mentioned, I’ve been sipping various teas during the day to help appease any cravings I might have. Some favorites include peppermint, lemon balm, chai rooibos, and oolong (this tea does have caffeine, but my intention is to only avoid coffee, not completely eliminate caffeine altogether).

Now that I’ve been a week sans coffee, I’m enjoying the experience and excited about the rest of my fast. Look for a conclusion of my experiment in the coming weeks!

Related: Comforting No-Coffee Latte

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Photo: Huixuan via Flickr

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Contributing Editor Molly Lansdowne lives in Boston, Massachusetts. In her free time, she enjoys writing, practicing yoga, and traveling around New England. Follow Molly on Pinterest @bostonvegan and Instagram @molly_lansdowne.


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