Giving up Coffee


This might sound like an exaggeration, but up until a couple weeks ago (15 days to be exact), I measured my day in beverages.

On my way to work I’d pick up a large iced coffee.  Sipping it got me through morning meetings, fended off email overload, and was a ritual that I craved… (desperately – I wasn’t myself without my morning iced coffee.)  Once it was lunchtime, I always had a seltzer.  Preferably berry, otherwise Mandarin orange.  Around 3pm I’d go out / or beg a coworker to get me a second coffee (this time a smaller size), and then around 8pm (if I didn’t have after work plans) it was onto a big glass of wine at home.  Beverages marked the beginning, middle, and end of my day… almost like little mile-markers I’d look forward to to get me through the tough ones.

And then I got food poisoning.  I’ve always had a sensitive stomach and am used to getting sick for maybe a day or two… but when I didn’t feel better for nearly a week, I headed to the doctor.  Her diagnosis was gastritis (which really isn’t a big deal and I’m totally fine now.)  She gave me medicine and told me to eat bland, and avoid anything acidic.  On that list?  All of my beloved beverages.  No coffee, no soda, no booze.  I’d joke to my friends + coworkers that I had nothing to look forward to throughout the day without my coffee, seltzer, and wine; but it was kind of true, especially with coffee… I really missed/needed it.

The caffeine headaches set in and I felt incredibly groggy.  Nothing (at least that I’ve experienced) is worse than a caffeine headache.  It felt like my brain was splitting in two and no amount of Advil would make it go away.  On top of (at the time) still feeling sick, I was out of it with a pounding headache.  But they only lasted a few (grueling) days and then I felt fine.

After dealing with such horrendous headaches, I decided that I never wanted to have them again, and that I’d just give coffee up altogether.  This sounds a little extreme, but the other factor in this decision was that I also realized how addicted I’d gotten, and I don’t love feeling that dependent on anything.  So I quit it.  As I said before, today marks day 15 with no coffee, and it’s gotten much easier.  I still miss it… I miss the flavor, and when you add in a little milk + Splenda, it feels like an indulgent treat / dessert.  But when I think about the headaches, the cravings, and feeling like I really needed it, I’m glad I quit.  And my stomach thanks me… coffee is incredibly acidic — not so good for that.

Now I’m on to iced tea… but just the herbal ones.  I get the most delicious Strawberry Mint iced tea from my local coffee shop, or I get Starbucks’ Iced Passion Tea (my other fave.)  I drink like, three of them a day.  But after seeing some comments on my instagram feed,  I’m curious to hear your relationship with caffeine… have you given it up?  How did it go?

photo by Lydia Hudgens

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Leave a Comment


  1. Alison:

    That is amazing, great job! I cannot live without coffee, for me it is about a ritual, sitting in a nice cafe in Brooklyn or NYC sipping a cappuccino just makes me happy.

    6.27.13 Reply
  2. Jen @ Lilly Pea Designs:

    I got a stomach bug in the beginning of May- and ended up giving up coffee for just about two months. I had my first cup this morning just because I missed the smell.. oddly, it didn’t taste as good as I remember!
    If you find that you’re struggling with energy- I know this is may sound weird, but having a glass of water when I first wake up really helps- for some reason it gets the brain alert!
    Good luck with your java strike!

    6.27.13 Reply
  3. Kat:

    The same thing happened to me! I used to drink coffee everyday, then I would get these awful stomachaches from the acidity. I quit it completely, and am so glad I did. It’s crazy how much people rely on caffeine to survive the day! It feels great to know that I can get through the day more naturally/healthily and running on my own energy. In a few weeks you’ll feel so great!

    6.27.13 Reply
  4. Lauren:

    This post kind of makes me sad, haha. I love coffee and can go days in between without having it but it’s one of those simple pleasures that I could never give up! I also had gastritis and laid off the spicy food which seemed to fix it pretty quickly. Thanks for sharing!

    6.27.13 Reply
  5. Rachelle:

    I love coffee but like you one day I realized that I was addicted (I mean headaches when I didn’t have any). So I forced myself to stop for like 3 months, when I felt like I had it under control, I started having one cup a day and mostly on weekends I don’t have any. I would never 100% give up coffee I just love it so much 🙂

    6.27.13 Reply
  6. chelsie | chelsie, darling:

    I’m a tea drinker, too! Coffee makes me really jittery so I only drink it when absolutely needed. I also don’t drink coke, pepsi, etc. I’m gonna have to try the passion teas – I usually stick to just black tea!

    6.27.13 Reply
  7. Kristina Anderson:

    Congrats on making it 15 days! I just never started with the caffeine so I don’t really need it. I’ll occasionally have a Diet Coke but that’s about it.

    Kristina does the Internets

    6.27.13 Reply
  8. Katie:

    I seriously gave up coffee just over a year ago. I quit after an Iced Caramel Macchiato (venti…with an extra shot. yes 4 shots of espresso) literally had me bouncing off walls, talking a mile a minute, and generally acting insane. It was a cold turkey kind of quit. I made the transition to green tea, and find that the caffeine in tea is a much more….mellow (if that makes sense?) One night a few months ago i was out with a girlfriend who ordered us espresso martini’s. I made the mistake of thinking it was double espresso vodka and it was real espresso. THAT my friend is feeling roooough.
    congrats on kicking the habit! and if your a starbucks or coffee shop lover like me, i’m now addicted to soy Chi 🙂

    6.27.13 Reply
  9. carrie:

    The real reason I drink tea over coffee – I’m lazy. It’s so much easier to make at home (where I work). Also, it’s gentler and doesn’t make my mouth taste horrible. I get a venti no water/no sugar black iced tea from Starbucks and Tejava by the case at TJs. I would mainline it if I could. I still like and enjoy coffee, but tend not to make it for myself at home. Welcome to the cult of tea!

    6.27.13 Reply
  10. kat:

    GOOD JOB! I’m glad you’re feeling better now. Getting over that hump is always the worst. It’s really good that you got over that and then stuck to the change… I’ve had to do it by limiting myself to one, or none. Either morning latte, lunchtime soda, or neither! Never both. I’ve never been a tea drinker, and never liked it, but am experimenting with chamomile (or any others that aren’t caffeinated) at night to wind down/have a treat with some tv time. Any suggestions from anyone would help! 😀

    6.27.13 Reply
  11. Amanda:

    I love my starbucks coffee. But I don’t feel like I have to have it everyday. Sometimes I only have it once a week…
    I drink a lot of water, and I love simply lemonade mixed with half sweet tea 🙂 I make my own Arnold palmers at home.
    And I never drink soda, I don’t like the taste of it.

    6.27.13 Reply
  12. Síle:

    Wise words I was told once – limiting yourself to anything “-a-day” is the sign of a bad habit!- so well done forgiving it up completely!

    6.27.13 Reply
    • Grace Atwood:

      Yes, I completely agree!!

      6.27.13 Reply
  13. Lauren:

    good job, grace! i gave up coffee recently too because it was making me upper jittery and anxious. love Starbucks passion tea (with no water). very yum.

    6.27.13 Reply
  14. Sara B:

    I don’t drink coffee but this month I actually gave up alcohol and have had somewhat similar feelings (not that I was addicted or an alcoholic or anything), but losing that thing that you look forward to at the end of your day or that you do in social settings is a big adjustment at first. But I feel so great and it’s actually been a pretty fun and rewarding experience. It’s taught me that something doesn’t have to have control over me, I can have control over it. I don’t need it to get me through a social event or a rough day. I sleep better, I don’t miss the hangovers (even just the 2 glass of wine headache that comes the next day sometimes) and I save a LOT of money. I probably won’t give it up forever, but this month has been a big eye-opener for me and I can see myself choosing more of these “fasts” in my future.

    Thanks for sharing your story, I’m so proud of you!! xo, Sara

    6.27.13 Reply
  15. Michelle Andrea:

    Great job! I have my days where I have numerous cups of coffee and days where I just have one. I measure how bad my days are according to the amount of caffeine I consume. But yes, the withdrawal headaches are horrendous.

    6.27.13 Reply
  16. B Wilson:

    I gave up coffee for a period of time and once I tried to go back to it I found that it made me crash! At first, I was so disappointed in this but went back to drinking tea and it gave me the perfect boost for the day! And if it’s unsweetened it doesn’t have any calories…amazing!

    6.27.13 Reply
  17. Hitha | Hitha On The Go:

    I quit coffee over 2 years ago and am all the better for it. I start my mornings with a cup of hot water with lemon, and black tea only if I feel I need it. I find that hot water with lemon and a green juice wakes me up perfectly!

    6.27.13 Reply
  18. Bettina:

    Hooray for giving up the coffee! I just started liking the taste of coffee and since I work from home most days I picked up a ritual of breaking up the day by working from my walkable starbucks. This post kinda concerns me, because I totally look forward to my coffee break every day and am starting to crave coffee’s and latte’s. Maybe I’m going to curb this a bit, because I definitely don’t want caffeine head ache withdrawals!

    Proud of you for kicking the habit! Regardless of what the habit is, habits are so incredibly hard to kick.

    6.27.13 Reply
  19. thebostonista:

    I have IBS so I know all about having to change my eating (and drinking!) habits. I applaud your going coffee free! I’ve recently started drinking coffee a lot more frequently which my doctor will not be happy about but sometimes the ritual of it is sort of worth it for me. I tend to do months free of certain things depending on how I’m feeling at any given time and then go back. So I am definitely well acquainted with the caffeine headache! You just have to get through them but now you are good for you for sticking with it! I’m sure its much better for your whole system.


    6.27.13 Reply
  20. The Preppy Leopard:

    Good for you! I tried giving up caffeine once, and I did it for a whole month. But, those were some of the most miserable days of my life. I felt like a heroin addict or something–shakes, chills, nausea, headaches, irritability. I was even achy all the time. It all confirmed that I definitely was addicted, and while I still indulge in a morning coffee, I stop the caffeine after 3 PM.

    6.28.13 Reply
  21. Gaby [The Vault Files]:

    I know this is going to sound irresponsible or perhaps outrageous? But as kids, we (my brothers and I) use to drink coffee. Yes, as kids. Of course the kind where there’s way more milk than coffee, like a very very light latte I guess. And sometimes we would just dip our grilled sandwiches in it. I think it is a cultural thing (I grew up in Venezuela), though I’m not sure if it’s something people still do (I suppose is not). So you would think that I would be a caffeine addict, but the fact is that I’m quite the opposite, I really don’t like coffee, I’m a tea drinker, I love green tea and simply can’t live without it (I’ve ran to the grocery shop at 9pm for some tea bags!). Anyway, good for you Grace! 🙂

    6.28.13 Reply
  22. Kristen:

    You are a strong woman! The thought of giving up my coffee is pretty terrifying, which is probably a good indication that I have a bit of a dependency problem as well.

    6.28.13 Reply
  23. Aubrey Kinch:

    Good for you!

    6.28.13 Reply
  24. Lisa:

    I’ve never been a coffee girl. Tea is more my speed. Even it’s 100 degrees outside, a hot cup of tea always hits the spot. Starbucks’ shaken lemonade iced tea comes in a close second.

    6.28.13 Reply
  25. Teje:

    Congratulations – brave (and hard) decision! I should, but do I really have to? Yesterday after stomach pain at night, I thought to have a day without coffee, but I was like in hypnose and couldn’t drive in our grazy trafic like that … should I …
    Thank you for your engouraging words and great post! ‘Frape’ wishes from Greece!

    6.28.13 Reply
  26. Shelby Foster (@shelbylfoster):

    Kudos to you for quitting! Caffeine has actually always given me a stomach ache and in general made me feel terrible. I have to order decaf at Starbucks because I really do like having a latte every now and then! I know most people think decaf coffee is the most ridiculous thing ever, but for me it’s a must unless I want to be sick the rest of the day. I drink a lot of green tea too 🙂 You should try Starbucks iced green tea with sweetener. Really refreshing on a hot NYC day!

    6.28.13 Reply
  27. Chelsea:

    Impressive! I’ve always dabbled with the idea of giving coffee up, but a huge part of me loves the ritual associated with my morning coffee. I’m sure this would translate to another beverage in the morning, but the caffeine is the other part 😉 Also, where can I find this strawberry mint tea!? That sounds ah-may-zing.

    6.28.13 Reply
  28. katiehigg:

    I gave up coffee while I went low sugar for 30 days. I did enjoy not relying on my morning coffee, but oh how I love the routine of it. Get up…make coffee…web surf. I’ve since gotten back on it, but it’s getting to be a bit much so I want to cut back. I think I’m going to try Starbucks iced passion tea (unsweetened) and see if I like it. I usually get unsweet iced tea once a day from McD’s, but getting a sbux drink would help fill that void when I want a plastic starbucks cup in my hand, but I don’t need the extra caffeine, calories or sugar.

    6.29.13 Reply
  29. Bisuzs Coffee:

    I am sure it’s a very tough thing to give up your favourite thing in the beginning, but I am sure iced tea are also very nice 🙂

    4.20.16 Reply