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Lent is a yearly Catholic Tradition that involves sacrifice, penance and generally a lot of guilt (When you’re Catholic, what *doesn’t* involve guilt?).  Last year, as Lent approached far more rapidly than I would have liked, I panicked because I had no idea what to ‘give up’ for Lent.  As Catholics, we generally ‘give something up’ that is near and dear to us, as a measure of sacrifice.  One year I gave up being nice; although in hindsight that wasn’t a very good idea.  

So for lent last year, I gave up caffeine.  That miracle drug that enables programmers to leap tall buildings in a single bound or to write reams of code in no time at all.  The same caffeine that is in just about every soda known to man. I gave it up.

I guess if you don’t consume caffeine at the rate I did, this isn’t a shock. It’s just caffeine.  It stops being ‘just caffeine’ when you consume upwards of 2 liters per day of the stuff. I’d have a soda in the morning, then a coffee, then another soda for lunch, then a soda and coffee in the mid afternoon.  I’d have soda with dinner and one or two sodas after dinner. My energy levels also fluctuated with the amount of caffeine I had. If I had caffeine in me, I was energetic, but the second it wore off I’d almost fall asleep (I drank sugar free soda, so it wasn’t a sugar crash).  Headaches were common when I went more than a few hours without caffeine, and I was generally irritable without it.

So I gave it up.

For the next 30 days, my life was a living hell.  Advil every 6 hours, lots of water, and irritableness as I came off of the caffeine.  After that, something strange happened: I was no longer tired at work, nor did I have a problem going to bed at night. I no longer got headaches, and my moods were mellower without caffeine.

A year later, I still don’t consume caffeine. If I feel the craving for a soda, I’ll buy a caffeine free diet drink (though there’s talk that even that’s ‘bad for you’); and at home I make Decaffeinated Iced-tea with Splenda.  If I have guests over, I’ll make them coffee (my mom would probably kill me if I didn’t have coffee for when she came to visit!), but otherwise I keep very little caffeine in the house.  At restaurants, where caffeinated sodas are the norm, I’ll either have water or a beer.

Caffeine changed my life: And being without caffeine has made my life immeasurably better. It may not be for everyone, but for me, it was worth it.


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