Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Caffeine Withdrawal

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:05 am

A couple of Saturdays ago at my Weight Watcher meeting, the leader did a “back to the basics” meeting. I always find these kind of meetings so helpful to me because when I started, I had a horrible Weight Watcher leader, so my initiation wasn’t the best that the program had to offer.

I learned a lot of new things that I should be doing considering that I have been following the program for over twelve weeks. I really should be hitting the whole grains because it will help “keep things moving.” I really should be watching my sugars, fats and oils and which ones would be helpful to me. I also learned that I should watch my intake of soda.

As a scientist, I know that case studies aren’t valid data, but I hear a good story and I think, “Man, I should try that.” Logically, I know that I shouldn’t believe it based on one case study, yet my inner Klingon says, “I think we should try it, sir.” So, my Weight Watcher leader says that when she was running, she found that it was easier for her to breathe when she stopped drinking carbonated beverages. She prefaced this story with the statement that it was only her individual experience, so it wasn’t like she was trying to fool us.

So, last Monday, I quit soda cold turkey. I thought it would be a piece of cake, considering that I hardly drink any soda. I was just trying to find a way to make my running easier. Plus, I thought, I would get off what little caffeine I drink every day, so that on the day of the race, I could guzzle down a Diet Mountain Dew and really feel its effects when it actually counts.

Tuesday, I had a headache. Wednesday, I had a massive headache and went to bed with a rice bed buddy. That night, I ended up sleeping almost twelve hours. When the headache returned on Thursday, I started to worry. Maybe I was getting sick. I’ve never had sinus headaches this many days in a row with no help from Sudafed, Tylenol, Ibuprofen or aspirin. It was weird. I began to worry that Melanie must have given me some horrible cold. I began to worry that I might be depressed and not even know it. I began to worry that I was getting a brain tumor. Then, I remembered. Oh yeah, I haven’t been drinking soda. This must be those Caffeine Withdrawals that people talk about.

By the way, don’t bother searching for advice online about caffeine addiction unless you are actually looking for herbal remedies and joke quizzes. That’s all you’ll find. I even went to Dr. Weil. I think he’s a quack, but compared to all those herbal remedy quacks, he looked almost bona fide. His recommendation, along with others, is to drink green tea. Sure, that has less of a stimulant effect than coffee, black tea and Mountain Dew, but it also has other stimulants to get addicted to. I decided to just weather it out.

No headache on Friday. It took four days to get through that headachy time and the only thing that gave me any relief was sleep and a rice bed buddy. Man, I think I’ll skip the Dew on race day just so that I don’t have to go through that again.

03/12/04 How To Quit Soda



  1. I quit cold turkey last Wed. I woke up Thursday with a slight headache and felt sluggish. Friday I was the walking dead with a headache. At night, I felt nausious and thought too that I had been exposed to some horrible flu. The good news is I’ve been off the caffiene for a week and feel much better. I’m not quit the hyper thing I used to be with five or six diet pepsi’s but, that’s ok! I too am a runner and I couldn’t even function until three days ago, but my breathing seemed to be suprisingly easier!!!! I hope that it has something to do with not drinking all that pop, and I’m going to try to stay away from it for good! I know I never want to experience the withdrawls again Good luck!

    Comment by Carol — 3/8/2006 @ 3:53 pm

  2. OOOOOH God help me. Im in the swollen eye first dreaded headache Im gonna puke period.

    Comment by Wendy — 3/10/2006 @ 1:37 pm

  3. Well, I am starting back on Weight Watchers today and quitting the caffeine. Normally when I would do this, I would quit everything all together, start WW and be miserable for a week. Sugar and caffeine withdrawals together are horrible! So I wasn’t going to do it on the same week. But, after saying the same thing the last month, I still haven’t started back OP. So I’m doing the system shock thing and doing it all today. It’s now or never! So here I sit, looking for remedies how to fix the headaches. But from the sounds of it, there is no cure, except time. So I’m hoping I don’t scream too loud or get too grumpy with my hubby and kids this week. I already let them know ahead of time, so they can steer clear if I get too cranky. :) Thanx for posting this, so I know I’m not the only one dealing with the painful headaches this month!

    Comment by Smiley — 3/27/2006 @ 11:14 am

  4. I was looking around for some comfort this morning, comfort for my headache. I too stopped cold turkey my 1 to 2 cups of Joe a day. I loved the smell in the bag, I love grinding the beans, the fresh cold water, and that coffee maker sound, and oh, the vanilla creamer, I’m getting hot just thinking about it!! But, the proof that I have such a huge headache tells me it was and is a drug! I’n on my second day now, I know it is the right thing from what all I have heard. My next big mountain is: every morning I’m the one that makes this coffee from my wife also. I’ll smell the bag, grind the beans, hear the maker go, but only serve her! This will be my biggest test (by the way, I went cold turkey while she is out of town for a week, I figured she would not have to face me in this aweful time. Anybody have any encouragement for me? thanks, Steve

    Comment by Steve — 4/18/2006 @ 7:36 am

  5. Ok, so I quit drinking soda on Thursday and it is now Saturday and I am about ready to lie down and not wake up! The fact that is has taken me about 10 years to quit again should tell you something about the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. I don’t remember it being this bad. I quit for health reasons and I can’t help but wonder if drinking all that pop may have brought them on, or at least helped them along. I still have a headache and I was forced to call my doctor this morning and beg for some kind of help. None was forthcoming. She just told me I should take a couple of sips to knock the edge off the headache. Haha easy for her to say, she didn’t know that those couple of sips would have turned to a whole two liter in a matter of hours. Cold turkey is the way I went but I don’t if it was wise. Good luck fellow kickers, it is not easy but I hear it is supposed be good for you.

    Comment by Dionne — 10/21/2006 @ 7:33 pm

  6. My head feels all fuzzy!!! The reason I decided to finally give up my bucket of coffee a day is because I want to get my teeth whitened, and it cost about 500 euros, so no point in undoing it with all the coffee!

    Comment by Ann — 3/10/2007 @ 12:22 pm

  7. I’m cutting back because of immediate health concerns. Quitting cold turkey wasn’t fun 16 years ago when I just had a can of Pepsi every day; now that I’m up to 4 large cups of strong coffee on a regular day, it’s going to be hell.

    Comment by regeya — 3/19/2007 @ 7:20 pm

  8. Up to 4 large cups a day?? That’s nothing. I left my ex when I was 18 & at that time I was drinking 18 to 20 cups a day. I moved back in with my Dad and quite rightly he told me he wouldn’t be supplying that amount of consumption so I cut back to 6 cups a day but couldn’t get down any further the headaches were crippling. I figured 6 a day was pretty good considering and now at 36 I dont really worry about it some days its 2 or 3 others its 10

    Comment by Becker — 1/23/2010 @ 10:34 am

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