Cranium + Caffeine

May 29, 2008

So I say I’m not addicted to coffee. When I don’t have it I don’t notice a difference in my energy or alertness. I’ve never noticed a “coffee buzz” or felt I needed it to wake up or I’d be groggy.

But after asking my dad about his coffee habits (he has a cup or two in the mornings), he said he gets a headache in the afternoons when he doesn’t have it in the mornings.

Well, after a few days of experimentation, I realized I also have that reaction. Must be genetic. Yesterday I had a mild headache that ran into my shoulders from about 5 p.m. until I went to bed and realized about mid-way through the night that didn’t have coffee in the morning. That’s the third time it’s happened. I DO NOT want to rely on coffee, so I’m thinking that despite how much I love the taste, I need to cut myself off for a while to reset my brain. Anyone have any idea how long that might take!?

It was fun to sleep in and have oats first thing this morning.

Today’s Mixture:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 small banana
  • 1/4 cup wheatberries
  • 2 tbsp trail mix
  • Small spoonful almond butter
  • Sprinkle of coconut

dsc00066.JPGMmmmmmmmmm …dried raspberries!


From above, with the evil substance


After breakfast I walked to the lightrail and back, reading Cooking Light on the way home. There are too many good recipes in this world and not enough meals!!

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Justy2003 May 29, 2008 at 8:35 am

Trail-mix oats have become a favorite of mine…probably because it contains a little chocolate :) And that’s why I don’t get them toooo often…

Did you have the coffee this morning before you talked to your dad and realized you were getting headaches from it? I guess I’m just confused since you said you were gonna cut back but then had some for breakfast…

Have a happy Thursday (basically Friday for you, I guess…lucky)!


2 Michele May 29, 2008 at 8:40 am

Occasional lurker here. Love your blog, Kath! It’s visually very appealing and inspiring.

About the caffeine, it’s not genetic that you got a headache after not having coffee yesterday. Anyone with a regular habit will get a headache after missing a dose. The fact that it was mild is related to the fact that you only have a small amount every day. If you stopped, the headaches would stop in just a few days. You are hardly addicted!


3 Korin May 29, 2008 at 8:42 am

Coffee rules. Don’t feel guilty. A cup or two a day isn’t something I think will end up having any negative effects.

And you’re using “addicted” really loosely. I know people who drink it non-stop through the whole work day.


4 citygirl May 29, 2008 at 8:42 am

hey kath – i’ve been reading your blog for awhile now without posting, but this one hit close to home so i thought i’d share.

i think the afternoon headache sans coffee in the morning is a pretty normal reaction when your body gets used to the caffeine…it’s exactly what happens to me and everyone in my family, too.

have you considered maybe doing the half-caff thing? i think a few brands have started to make their own versions that you can buy in supermarkets, but it’s definitely a good idea to wean yourself off instead of going cold turkey…otherwise, it’ll be a pretty unpleasant process. you should adjust after a week or so, and you can reevaluate and take it from there.

just my $0.02 :)


5 Lauren May 29, 2008 at 8:49 am

I always “try” to break my caffeine addiction too (except mine is to diet sodas), but I have yet to actually conquer this! I jsut get too bored with other drinks and end up giving in…I really wish I could tho!

On the side note, are there any of yall that exercise/work out daily?? I know everyone says you need rest days and such but I hate taking rest days! Specially if I am not feeling sore or something. My job consists of sitting most of the time so when I get the chance I like to move and do something active, like jog 20 minute and elliptial 20 min..or take a class or something!


6 Kath May 29, 2008 at 8:50 am

Justy2003 ,
You’re right – I had it anyways, but I didn’t start thinking about it all until afterwards.

Michele ,
I know headaches are a classic symptom, but I thought it was weird the headache doesn’t come until the afternoon – but if that’s typical then I guess I just want to be like my dad :)

Korin ,
I know a cup or two is fine – even beneficial – but I don’t want to be dependent on having it. And yes, I’m using addicted very loosely.



7 Emmy May 29, 2008 at 8:50 am

I totally get the caffeine withdrawal headache thing when I don’t have my morning cup. Your body can become dependent on the caffeine (even with small amounts) and mild withdrawal symptoms like headache etc. are par for the course. There is even something called “Caffeine Intoxification.” I think I’ve had it after a Venti Frappucino at Starbucks!!


8 Tina May 29, 2008 at 8:50 am

I have the same relationship with coffee. I used to get massive headaches in the afternoon, but I’ve cut back quite a bit on my caffeine intake, and get them less. Just SLOWLY cut back on how much you consume everyday… eventually, the headaches will go away.


9 Sarah May 29, 2008 at 8:53 am

Lauren, I’m the same way…I have to move around otherwise I would go insane.

Your body does need rest though…I usually take one or two days a week and call them my rest days. Those are the days when I do upper body strength training followed by a long walk. The key is to make the walk enjoyable rather then a hard workout. Take in the scenes around and force yourself to slow down a little.

A slow, gentle run could be considered a ‘rest day’ as well. If you ever feel exhausted, overworked, lazy, or the weather just plain stinks, you could use that day for a rest as well.

When I take a complete day of rest, I like to spend my day cooking. It keeps me busy rather then feeling bored or wishing I was out running/biking. :)


10 Kate May 29, 2008 at 8:53 am

Agh! Coffee! I love the stuff and admit I drink it for the buzz, but I’m no longer getting the buzz since I’ve been drinking it every day for a couple of months and my body has adjusted. After giving it up, the headaches should go away quickly–three to four days if you weren’t drinking a ton in the first place. Often I’ll drink some caffeinated tea during those days. It’s just enough caffeine to help with the headaches but has never given me withdrawal symptoms. Taking a week off should be enough.

I have got to try your trail mix oats! Dried raspberries and chocolate!? Yum!


11 Betsy in Pittsburgh May 29, 2008 at 8:58 am

I’ve never drank a cup of coffee in my life (honest!) and I never ever drink soda, but I think I get headaches sometimes if I don’t have chocolate… because that’s something I need quite often. :)


12 Justy2003 May 29, 2008 at 9:07 am

Thanks for clearing that up for me, Kath!

I’m not a huge coffee drinker…I only have Starbucks on rare occasions (usually with my mom cuz she has them EVERY day…literally). I do enjoy my cup of tea in the morning though! :)

Lauren-I also work out every day. More formalized during the week and on the weekends I’ll usually run/do yoga one day and just take a walk or something lighter on the other. I don’t like to have days where I just sit around doing nothing, so I make sure to get in some sort of activity! I’d say that as long as your body isn’t feeling overworked/tired you will be fine. Just be sure to give yourself a break when your body tells you it needs one!


13 VeggieGirl May 29, 2008 at 9:10 am

Try to eliminate the coffee gradually – don’t go “cold turkey.” Good luck!

Mmm, dried raspberries!! Haven’t seen any of those around here, but I’d love to find some soon!!


14 Dinah Soar May 29, 2008 at 9:15 am

Why not switch to decaf? I believe there are some that are decaffeinated naturally with a water process. Tea has about the same amount of caffeine as decaf coffee.


15 arielle May 29, 2008 at 9:25 am

I think the afternoon headaches are the norm. At least, that’s when I get one if I don’t have coffee. If you don’t think it helps you wake up, but you just like the taste, why not just drink decaf?


16 Kelly T May 29, 2008 at 9:27 am

i drink about 4 cups of coffee a day.

i dont get headaches without it but my mood takes a very sour turn.


17 Ally May 29, 2008 at 9:30 am

Reading this blog entry has actually made me want some coffee. I’ve drinking it in the afternoons these days but a nice, warm cup sounds delicious!

Trail mix oatmeal looks fantastic by the way!


18 Christie May 29, 2008 at 9:33 am

Kath I have commented before and not sure if you remember but I too am getting my Master in Nutrition and I have followed your blog for a while ( loveit) over the months I ave noticed you have made postive changes to your eating habits as far as having more variety and being less strict, as a future practicing dietician have your noticed any changes since that and do you feel that by gradually adding things to your diet ha shelped yo make these changes?


19 BethT May 29, 2008 at 9:37 am

My hub is the same, Kath. The first few days would be hell but after that your headaches would subside.

Personally, I like relying on coffee 😀 Mmmmm.


20 Becca May 29, 2008 at 9:49 am

Breakfast looks great and just reminded me I meant to use some shredded coconut on my muesli…glad I have half a bowl left!


21 samantha May 29, 2008 at 10:03 am

I feel like that is a very common reaction when a coffee drinker misses their morning coffee. I get headaches in the afternoon if i don’t have any, and I also thought that I shouldn’t be so addicted, and so I quit cold turkey. This is very hard on your body.
After a full day or two without coffee I basically felt nauseous all day for about a week. That may have been a result of something else, too, but probably not… I was VERY dependent on coffee at that point. I would have at least 9 cups a day spread out from breakfast to dinner and later (I’m in college, so my schedule is whack).
After that week, though, I didn’t need coffee and it was pretty nice, I suppose… I felt “reset”. But, like a true coffee addict, I began to miss it for other reasons: the taste, aroma, the warmth, the morning RITUAL of drinking coffee with a paper and relaxing. I am not a smoker, but I assume that the addiction is very similar. It’s about more than the physical dependency; you create a lifestyle around it. That is the hardest part to overcome.
So if you’ve decided that you are at a point where you are OK with giving all of that up, GO FOR IT! But I was not, and so even though I went through hell for a week, I decided that I loved coffee too much and now drink it again, although I try to keep it to only a couple cups per day.
That was long! But good luck!


22 Heather May 29, 2008 at 10:13 am

I tried to give up diet soft drinks a while back and had horrible afternoon headaches for two weeks :( Maybe tapering is a better option.

The oats look yummy, as usual!


23 Christin May 29, 2008 at 10:17 am

Kath, I have an idea you might want to try.

As migraine sufferer, I have done lots of my own personal “studies” on headache sources, and I don’t think you have enough evidence to attribute your headaches solely to lack of caffeine consumption. Headaches are a result of bloodflow disruption to the brain…caffeine speeds up your heart rate, so blood is pumping faster, then as the caffeine leaves your system, your heart rate slows, often resulting in a headache….this is why over the counter migraine pain relievers contain caffeine…its a temporary fix. BUT your are saying you get a headache in the afternoon when you DONT drink coffee in the morning, so the timing seems off to me.
The thing is, you DO work out in the mornings, andf then sit in labs all day, so your heart rate is up first thing in the morning, and then slows…I would be quicker to attribute headaches to that based on my own experiences…especially in the summertime when it is hotter during the days…instead of quitting the coffee, maybe try an afternoon walk with deep breaths and a nice bottle of water to get more oxygen to your brain in the afternoon…dehydration mean less oxygen in the bloodstream…try it out, let me know what happens! :)


24 caitlinbo May 29, 2008 at 10:18 am

why would you EVER want to give up your morning cup of coffee?!


25 CourtneyS May 29, 2008 at 10:20 am

In defense of coffee – I’ve had morning coffee every day since I was twelve. I love the whole thing – grinding the beans, brewing the pot, enjoying something wonderful first thing in the morning. I get splitting headaches and feel very groggy if I don’t have some within a couple of hours of getting up. My dad is the same way.

I guess I don’t see what the big deal is about a cup or two in the morning. It’s not crack! Life is too short to cut out everything fun! (I did, however, give up diet soda a few years ago because of all the chemicals and I don’t miss it at all.)

Kath, do you find oatmeal is less appealing when the weather gets hot? Sometimes when it’s already hot and sticky in the morning, my head doesn’t want oatmeal even if my stomach does. Your breakfast looks great as usual.


26 Jana May 29, 2008 at 10:23 am

The coffee withdrawal headache goes away after about 2 or 3 days, at least that is how it was with me. I had coffee every morning, and sometimes in the afternoon and I LOVE LOVE LOVE coffee. Unfortunately, I developed this hypersensitivity, including stomach troubles and heart racing. So I had to quit coffee and had a splitting headache for three days. Then it was gone and all that was left was my utter sadness about not being able to have coffee 😉


27 claire May 29, 2008 at 10:28 am

I’d love to have trail mix in my oatmeal, but I don’t trust myself to consume the whole bag in 1 day. Maybe when I’m more controlled with my eating I’ll have trail mix, but until then I’ll live through the pictures!


28 LT May 29, 2008 at 10:29 am

I drink green tea in the a.m. when I’m not up for the caffeine jolt of coffee. It perks me up without messing with my stomach/head.


29 Amy May 29, 2008 at 10:30 am

I completely cut out all caffeine about a year ago after I realized that it was irritating my very sensitive stomach. It took me about a week or 2 to really get over the withdrawal/stop thinking about it. I’ve replaced it with tea and a dab of honey, which I now love so much more since I can have so much more variety and flavor


30 Leah May 29, 2008 at 10:38 am

Claire, I’m with you re: the trail mix. That is one thing that is just impossible for me to portion control. Who can eat just 1/4 of a cup of trail mix?? Sad, but I’m weak and have to ban it from my house.


31 Bev May 29, 2008 at 10:42 am

You might want to check this out


32 Kiala May 29, 2008 at 10:45 am

Kath, just switch to black tea and then switch to herbal tea…it takes about a week for the cravings and headaches to subside.

Or just keep drinking coffee. It’s delicious. And 1-2 cups a day are good for you.


33 Katerina May 29, 2008 at 11:42 am

Just a quick note to say that I read several pages of your blog yesterday and was so inspired I had a great workout last night. Thanks for the inspiration!

Also – do you make big batches of oatmeal of make it fresh everyday? I need a grab and go breakfast cause of work but those breakfasts look so good.


34 Brittany May 29, 2008 at 11:44 am

Good to know that I am not not the only person who loves trail mix a little too much. I keep it out of the house for the most part, but when I do buy it I get it from the bulk bins so I can buy just enough for one serving. I’ve learned that however much is in the bag is how much I am going to eat. When I buy it from Trader Joe’s I portion it out so that only1 serving is in a small little bag. That really helps. Although, you can always go and get another little bag if you are at home….


35 sarah May 29, 2008 at 12:31 pm

omg–i agree, this months cooking light is OVER THE TOP! i usually find one or two recipes that look good, this months has about 100 =)~


36 kristin point May 29, 2008 at 1:35 pm

I can’t handle trail mix or large amounts of nuts in my apartment. I used to be the same way with nut butters almond and pb), but after I started keeping them all the time to put in oatmeal, they lost they’re binge appeal. It really is true what they say that you crave things you restrict!


37 anonymous May 29, 2008 at 2:31 pm

hey kath! i love your blog! I just wanted to say, that maybe you could try decaf. coffee. No caffeine but still that great taste!?


38 mel May 29, 2008 at 2:50 pm

I don’t see the big deal in drinking one to two small cups of coffee a day. I’ve drank a cup everymorning since I was in High school and I don’t have headaches at all if I don’t get it. I drink regular but I have heard decaf is processed and we shouldn’t drink it…is that true?


39 Kath May 29, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Christie ,
I don’t think I am far enough along in my nutrition studies to have made any major decisions about what I eat and what I’ve learned – I think most of my evolving habits are a result of personal choices, what I read, how I feel, etc. Although I did start taking a multivitamin after I did a nutritional analysis of my diet. I do have a feeling that when I get deeper into the biochemistry of it all that my opinions might change – I just don’t know how yet! Good question though.

Christin ,
I don’t normally get headaches and I think the correlation of 3 times in a row is pretty strong, but I’ll keep my sensors out for other factors too.

CourtneyS ,
Yes, sometimes it’s too hot for oatmeal. I’ll probably eat more muesli and cold cereal and/or yogurt combos in the middle of the summer.

claire + leah,
Have you tried portioning it out into tupperware or baggies? I find it’s hard to “sneak” some then because I know I’ll be cheating myself out of part of the portion when it’s time to eat that bag.

Bev ,

Katerina ,
I made it everyday and the hardest part is cleaning the pot. Muesli is great for grab and go, and you could make the oatmeal in advance and reheat with some milk and then add toppings in the morning.

Re. coffee,
They don’t make my favorite flavors in decaf, and I don’t think it tastes as good. And I’ve heard bad things about the decaf. process…and I imagine the water kinds are harder to find. Basically I don’t think it would really be that worth it.

Re. Coffee,
I agree there is nothing wrong with having a few cups a day. But I personally do not want to be dependent to the point of headaches on anything – no matter how much I like it. That’s a personal health choice for me. Plus, coffee has never made me feel that great. I’ve had to take breaks before b/c of anxiety feelings so I’m trying to listen to my body here.



40 dara May 29, 2008 at 8:51 pm

I drank coffee for twenty years,and finally gave it up 5 monts ago.The first week I had lots of headached,but soldiered on.
I now drink a few cups of looseleaf(SO much tastier than bagged!)green tea to get a mini hit of caffeine(but lower so no headaches if I skip!)
And i am drinking more herbal teas in late aft and eve,like chamomile,lemon ginger and a lot of mint lately.Honeybush is also quite good!
I really miss my regualr black tea with milk,but will hod off a while longer….


41 Liza May 30, 2008 at 12:22 pm

I have up coffee for Lent (I had been drinking coffee everyday since I was 16) and was headache free in less than one week. It was hard “going cold turkey” but I made the transition with caffeinated tea, which seemed to help. Lent is WAY over and I’m still drinking tea. Never felt better – good luck!


42 med student May 30, 2008 at 1:16 pm

omg are you seriously thinking you are addicted? don’t get me wrong it’s really good that you want to quit it’s just that I was THINKING IF I’M addicted…like consdering

oh and I drink like 15+ cups a day…

It’s hard to decrease it though… I need my coffee so I won’t fall a sleep in front of my books


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