Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hot HOT chocolate

Hot Chocolate

There are a few mainstays in my life:
(1) whenever we decide to plan something - be it a wedding, a holiday, heck, even a supermarket trip - Galumph will suggest setting up a spreadsheet;
(2) The Guardian - it's the first site I look at in the morning, and the last one I peep at before I hit the sack;
(3) I will fall into a big tired heap around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and stagger through to bedtime in a weary, grumpy fug.

Now, the spreadsheet quirk I can't do too much about, and as for The Guardian, well, I wouldn't be without it. It makes me laugh, and sometimes makes me cry. It's the best darn reporting on the web. But the tired - oh, the tired I can certainly do without.

My vegetarian proteiney breakfasts have definitely helped keep my energy levels nice and stable until lunchtime, but I still get the mid-afternoon slump. I sat down and had a good think about this the other day, and realised that I always want a coffee and a sugar hit then. Then I began to think about how many coffees I have a day, and realised that I'm up to four. Yikes - that seems like a lot! Yet despite these cups of joe, I still felt that I was running on empty most of the time.

I did some internet research, and discovered that what with the caffeine and two sugars I add to each cup, I was setting up a classic low sugar level cycle. That would explain the constant desire for another pick me up, which only ever did a very temporary job.

So I'm taking a bold step, and going where adult Jorth has not gone before: I'm pretty much cutting caffeine out of my life, and seeing if that improves things. From what I've read, once you get past week 1 your energy levels should be stable all day, only dwindling down of an evening which is when you are naturally meant to toddle off to bed. So far, so good, except for the constant headache, but I'm assured that will go.

But there was still one little problem left: I LIKED having a hot milky beverage first thing in the morning. So I've come up with a compromise (since I don't like herbal teas that much): I'm going to have chilli hot chocolate in the morning instead, then peppermint tea the rest of the time. Now, there is caffeine in hot chocolate - estimates put it at between 10 - 70mg per cup - but I reckon that's a lot better than the 400mg I was consuming before. And I won't be having any sugar with it.

Besides, the chilli is sure to give a quick fire start to my day! I'll see how it goes - really, all I want is to stay up past 8:30 of an evening without nodding off over my knitting. I have a lot of knitting projects planned - I need the extra hours to get them all done!


  1. Hi Jorth! I've done a similar thing and may I suggest you try cutting down gradually on the coffee (ie 1 less per day) first rather than going cold turkey - I have done it both ways, and the headaches were for me excrutiating (and I don't normally get headaches!). The other things I found particularly helpful was roasted dandelion tea (a great coffee substitute), Planet organic Detox and planet organic chai green tea (which is a much gentler green tea and has all those wonderful anti-ox powers even though it does have a small amount of caffeine in it). Hope that helps and loved the little red dress. Can't wait to see what your sewing for summer!
    Bw Suzannah

  2. Thanks Suzannah. That's good advice!

  3. I had the same problem as you with the 3 pm slump, but in addition I was also extremely achey most of the day, especially first thing in the morning. I ended up cutting out all sugar, and in fact did a 30 day no sugar, no grains, no potato thing (I don't like the word detox) which improved my energy and aches and pains considerably. If the no caffeine thing doesn't do it for you, try the no sugar. I did the Dr Olson sugar free thing - was really really good.

    Good luck with the caffeine freedom!

  4. Before I gave up dairy, I found that having a smoothie at around 3pm a great help. It always gave me another kickstart, stopped the sugar cravings and kept me going to dinner time. I used to make mine with lite milk & yoghurt, berries and banana.

    I also gave up coffee at the start of the year. The headaches were a bit much but tolerable. It is amazing how your body becomes more 'stable' once you eliminate it. Now I can't even drink coffee at all. If I do I feel wired and become agitated and irritated for hours.

  5. I used to drink up to six coffees per day, but I added little sugar so my energy levels didn't slump all that much. But after I got pregnant I reduced the coffee intake to one to two coffees a day. Now I experience a nice big slump every afternoon and I'd need a pick me up. lol. I did avoid the headaches though, probably because the body was already in shock over the pregnancy. ;)

  6. I cut out the coffee a year ago to help address migraines I was having. I was up around 8 cups so I gradually did it - the morning one was the hardest and last to go. I do drink decaf now and occasionally will have a coffee or a diet coke. Good luck!

  7. Anonymous7:34 pm

    I agree with the others - from my detox experiences, the caffeine withdrawal headache is impressive. Brace yourself! Good luck.

  8. So you should be nodding over that knitting right about now?! ;)

  9. Very brave move, and I admire your strength! (and yes, spreadsheets seem to be a very blokey thing!)

  10. Good for you! It gets easier after the first week or so (and the headaches will stop). I still have the occasional morning cup but afternoon ones were stricken from the routine completely when I fell into the "one more cup" trap. Good luck!

  11. Do it! You will feel amazing :D
    I did it, the headaches sucked, but you get over it and feel so much better... then you can enjoy the occasional one without the dependency!

  12. I'm also at four cups a day, but I decided not to mind any more... However, I'd be interested to hear if it does help for you against being tired in the afternoon. Maybe I'd give it a try then?
    I'd also advise cutting down slowly. Even if the headache will go away - why suffer while you're trying to break a habit? It would make me just give up on the project.

  13. Sounds to me like you need a snack in the afternoon - try some fruit and nuts. (my thoughts only!)

  14. Anonymous9:08 am

    I second Sue's suggestion of a protein snack in the afternoon, like nuts and dried fruit.

    Lots of coffee or tea can affect your iron absorption, too, so that's something to watch out for. Whenever I try to cut out coffee I end up substituting ten cups of tea a day, and my iron levels plummet! That makes one coffee a day look much less of a problem.

    Good luck!


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