Decaffeinating your life is one of many approaches and strategies you can try on a journey to better health. Broadly, it’s an element of ‘detox’ – while caffeine is a mild stimulant in moderation, your body and brain still get used to it being in your blood stream. Your brain, in particular, does not tolerate chemical change well and this is where withdrawal comes in. Fortunately, the most common symptom of caffeine withdrawal is a minor tension headache, and the cravings are quick to subside.
With decaffeinated tea and coffee you can even mask some of the cravings and continue to enjoy the same tastes and aromas you have become accustomed to.
So: so far, a small amount of sacrifice to decaf your body, but can it make your life better in a meaningful way?
The narrative of detox is intertwined with lifestyle woo-woo. That’s a term we just made up to describe a big wicker basket of good-intention ideas like veganism, holistic spirituality and Eastern systems of thought. Nothing wrong with any of it, but decaffeinating your life is about restoring a chemical, not spiritual, balance in your body.
You know us – we are hardly the type of people to go all yoga-crystal-dreamcatcher-mindful-woo-woo on you. As far as we are aware, we have no chakras and feng-shui is not so much a way of life but more of a storage solution. Neither do we store our socks to the west of a lucky rabbit’s foot. Think about that for a moment: It wasn’t so lucky for the rabbit, was it?
Trust us when we say, we have no woo-woo.
Your body doesn’t need caffeine
The best reason for drinking less or no caffeine is that your body doesn’t need it. Like nicotine, heroin and strong painkillers, your body has just got used to it being around. Caffeinistas claim that it helps attention and focus, and they are both right and wrong at the same time. Scientific trials have concluded that, at best, caffeine helps attention and focus get back to where it was before you became withdrawn. And that’s what caffeine withdrawal looks like – a craving for a big mug of coffee in the morning to escape the tug of withdrawal and restore the world to where it should have been. It’s not restoring the world; it’s restoring your brain chemistry. Your brain in this instance is acting like a wilful, truculent teenager. It’s refusing to get its act together until you do something nice for them. Your teen asks you for money, chocolate or the latest tech before they clean their room. Your brain won’t move until it gets a chemical leg-up. Like your teen, your brain is lazy and used to the good life of drip-fed feel-good. The good news is that the brain has its own feel-good chemistry, caffeine is a cheat code that robs it of achieving its own balance.
Your brain is the most complicated thing you own. Indeed, it is among the most complex things in the known universe. It is capable of extraordinary calculation and every minute of your waking day, it perceives, renders and constructs your entire world. Throwing additional stimulants into the sentient bucket of porridge that exists between your ears is like lighting a campfire in an art gallery.
Decaffeinating your life is one part of restoring the natural balance of this most sensitive instrument. Once the minor withdrawals are over it will make your life better simply by re-establishing its unaided potential.