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I Gave Up Caffeine Cold Turkey. Here's What Happened (Even I Was Surprised!)

Lee Tilghman
Creator of Lee From America By Lee Tilghman
Creator of Lee From America
Lee Tilghman is a blogger and founder of Lee From America. Currently based in Los Angeles, she has her B.A. in creative writing from St. Joseph’s University.

I'm an Instagrammer, food blogger, dog lover, plant lady—and matcha fiend.

The week of April 17, I decided to do something crazy. I set out a personal as well as Instagram challenge to do #caffeinefreeweek. The challenge was to go seven days without caffeine, meaning no coffee, no decaf, no kombucha, no matcha, no Yerba mate. While I'm not a crazy coffee drinker, I drink matcha daily and kombucha a few days a week. Needless to say, I was ready for a rough week.

Here's how it all went down:

Day 1: Why am I doing this again?

I overslept last night. As in, I slept too much so I already feel groggy. I start the day with an herbal coffee coconut latte with coconut butter, MCT oil, ashwagandha. It tastes amazing but it doesn't give me a jolt. All day, I feel slow, not as sharp, forgetful, and spacey. I can feel the slow, painful onset of a headache around 2 p.m. I am forgetting people's names, definitely not very productive, find it hard to concentrate, and am kind of moody from the lack of my feel-good morning matcha. My friend comes over to help me finish my taxes (yeah, I do them myself!) and I question why I decided to even do #caffeinefreeweek. The hashtags and hundreds of people doing it with me keep me inspired. Come 3 p.m., I am pretty useless. So tired, so lethargic. I am on the couch from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., then I fall asleep at 9:30 p.m., as soon as my head hits the pillow.


Day 2: Headache, be gone!

I sleep very well. I wake up feeling a bit more refreshed with natural cortisol and am feeling more hopeful. I make a cardamom iced herbal coffee. However, the headaches start around 8 a.m. I go for a walk around 10 a.m., which is when I normally have my caffeine. This helps alleviate the headache a little but not really. I'm irritable, irritated. I use peppermint oil on my temples to help with the headaches. I am chugging LITERS of water like I'm a fish. But the headaches are crippling. Luckily I was expecting this so I had scheduled my first cupping session at 1 p.m. Cupping is an ancient Chinese method that helps relieve tension, balance hormones, get rid of migraines, and helps with just about everything else. I leave my first cupping session feeling like a BOSS, with my headache completely gone. However, come 5 p.m., I am so bloated and gassy, it's hard to get off the couch again and is uncomfortable to eat.

Day 3: The stomach troubles begin.

I'm still on cloud nine after cupping. I finally wake up feeling almost like myself. It's getting easier. I make a moringa spirulina latte. However, my stomach is all messed up. My gut is inflamed and my IBS-D symptoms are flaring up like CRAZY. It's hard to eat, so I just have smoothies and soups for every meal hoping that will help. I up my enzymes and my sauerkraut but am still not feeling so hot. I do notice I am not as anxious and not as hyper. I'm also a more peaceful driver and not clenching my jaw so damn hard.

Day 4: OK, the digestive issues are getting bad.

I text my functional health doctor and explain to her my symptoms. She lets me know that I shouldn't have removed matcha and kombucha from my diet since they are beneficial to my health and that the stress from suddenly removing these things was causing my body to freak out. I used to have horrible leaky gut and through daily probiotics, kombucha, collagen, LED light therapy, Clean Program, and bone broth, I have really healed my gut. However, I'm getting worried that I'm wreaking havoc on my gut lining with all this stress. Though I'm sleeping better, my daily digestive issues are making it hard to get through the day. I start wrestling with the idea of cutting my challenge short. Part of me is thinking, "You can do this, Lee!" The other part of me is asking why I'm putting myself through this misery.


Day 5: Well...

I wake up and decide in order to feel like a functioning human being and not destroy my gut lining, I need to make a potion and add half a teaspoon of matcha. I drink and within 30 minutes, I feel the bloat begin to decrease; I feel more focused; I feel like LEE again. All things are back to normal within a few hours and I just feel so relieved.

Overall, removing caffeine completely from my diet made me really appreciate caffeine and what it does for me. One good thing about removing it from my diet was seeing how it affects me, and I also saved some extra bucks without buying matcha lattes. The pros of caffeine for me really outweigh the cons. Though I gave up coffee completely a year ago due to adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance, I still love drinking a daily cup of matcha and kombucha.

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