No caffeine, no alcohol, no sugar... No, really?

The challenge for Week 16 of The Great Wake Up was a tough one, cutting out all caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar.

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Chris, you have got to be kidding. What terrible timing! My birthday is this week and I'm negotiating a big job with a new client. And you want me to give up my cuppa?

I nearly opted out of this one. I have a complex relationship with caffeine in that I learned long ago that too much is a migraine trigger, but none at all causes withdrawal headaches. So I made my peace with caffeine and stick to my one cup of builder's tea each day. It's a ritual that grounds me, and that I look forward to every day.

However, in for a penny, in for a pound, and on day one I had no caffeine, with no ill effects. This was a pleasant surprise! On day two I had the nagging detox headache and (hangs head in shame) I eventually gave in. But only part way - I had a cup of green tea with no sugar, just to nip the edge off. And that worked. Day three I was back to no caffeine and the same on day four, although I was certainly craving caffeine by the end of the day...

This was a big learning for me - I already knew about the dependency we can build on caffeine, and the negative effects of an abrupt withdrawal, but I was pleased to know I'd managed my dependency down enough to manage a day without any, and then two more. It makes me a lot more confident about continuing to have caffeine free days. And I'm going to!

Sugar was surprisingly doable; although I wanted cake and cookies I found it easier to say no when I wasn't having a cup of tea. I did eat A LOT of fruit, though. And a lot of everything else... So I'm not sure that was a 100% win.

What is a win, though, is knowing I can give up sugar (and caffeine) even when the timing is bad, and it's given me the impetus to tackle my real challenge - giving up refined carbohydrates (wheat and sugar...). I've always put this off because it's never been a good time, and this weeks challenge has shown me it's never going to be a good time. So just do it now.

It's been a valuable - if not easy - challenge this week and a good chance to check in with my body. It's nice to know I do have functioning willpower after all!

(p.s. I feel like a total cheat on alcohol - I drink so little that drinking for four days in a row would be a much bigger challenge than not drinking. I wasn't brave enough to substitute wheat this time, but just thinking about that challenge to come makes me feel for the drinkers among us!)


cat lover, wife, designer, analyst (the spreadsheet kind...), friend, sister, daughter, writer, consultant, lover of beauty...


Go to the profile of Mark Cuddy
almost 6 years ago
Well done Vanessa - success is sweet, ahem!
Go to the profile of Jacqui
almost 6 years ago
I am so impressed. Caffeine is my drug of choice so I am impressed by anyone able to give it up! Such self discipline!
Go to the profile of Sarah-Kate Goodwin
almost 6 years ago
Day one in I ended up with a mega headache and a terrible mood!- caffeine our friend is hard to give up! But this very fact is worth considering that we should at least try. Well done for such a positive and encouraging attempt, and Happy Birthday!!!!
Go to the profile of Fiona Dolben
almost 6 years ago
Happy birthday and well done ..personally struggling with this one.
Go to the profile of Vanessa
almost 6 years ago
Thanks for the birthday wishes! This experiment was a hard one, and proved to me that caffeine isn't one to go cold turkey on. We need to wean ourselves gently. That's what's been tickling in my mind lately; so many of these experiments seems to lead to "treat yourself gently". Kind of sad we need reminding...
Go to the profile of Chris Baréz-Brown
over 5 years ago
Ha! Oh no! very bad timing but thank you for giving it a go, great post...I am off the wheat too! C x