7 signs you need to cut down on caffeine now – and the surprising foods it’s hidden in | The Sun

HOW often do you find yourself desperate for a caffeine hit in the morning? Or even in the afternoon when post-lunch grogginess kicks in? 

For so many of us, caffeine is an essential part of the day. 

But there are some signs and symptoms that may suggest your caffeine intake is a little on the steep side.

Caffeine isn’t necessarily bad for us, as Shona Wilkinson, Lead Nutritionist at DR.VEGAN explains.

However, she adds “the caffeine conversation is still ongoing within the health and medical community, with some suggesting it’s an important part of our daily diet and others suggesting we should avoid it altogether”.

“Research has also discovered a genetically driven enzyme marker in the liver, which helps with the metabolism of caffeine and is more efficient in some people than others – this, in turn, explains why some people can drink four cups of coffee back-to-back without flinching, while others get the shakes after just a whiff of hot tea.”

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Reckon you might be going OTT on caffeine? 

It’s not just coffee that can have an effect.

Shona explains other foods and drinks that secretly pack in caffeine too…


Decaffeinated tea and coffee

Even the decaf varieties do contain some caffeine.

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“If you’re extremely sensitive or perhaps even allergic, you may need to avoid these options,’ says Shona.

This includes skipping decaf before bed as the small amounts of caffeine in decaf could potentially disrupt your shut-eye.

Dark chocolate

“Some brands of dark chocolate have been shown to contain between 20 to 60mg of caffeine per 28g serving, which is more than you’d find in a cup of tea,” says Shona.

For comparison, one shot of coffee contains around 63mg of caffeine.

So, eating a bar of dark chocolate during the day can add on a pretty hefty amount of caffeine, which could contribute to the caffeine symptoms below. 

Try switching to milk chocolate if you can, or reduce your portion of dark chocolate. 


“It’s important to remember that even some forms of medication contain caffeine, particularly some of the over-the-counter tablets and sachets people use to get rid of colds,” reveals Shona.

“Some sachets contain up to 25mg of caffeine per serving, so be careful not to use them late at night if you’re hoping to get a good night’s sleep.”

Fizzy drinks

“Perhaps one of the biggest caffeine culprits outside of tea and coffee is fizzy drinks. 

“Some energy drinks contain up to 54mg of caffeine per serving, which is more than a cup of coffee,” explains Shona.

In fact, she adds that even the ‘diet’ versions of most fizzy drinks contain a lot of caffeine. 


Are you experiencing any of these? If you are, take a look at your caffeine intake.

1. Insomnia

“Perhaps the most obvious sign that you’ve had a little too much caffeine is an inability to catch some ZZZs,” says Shona.

“Caffeine is a stimulant that can delay the timing of your body clock, leaving your brain wide awake while your body is ready to sleep. 

“When you do eventually get to sleep, studies have shown that caffeine also affects the quality of this sleep, leaving you tired and restless when you wake up.”

Finding your sleep is disrupted? Keep tabs on what time you last ingested caffeine and try to budge this back by a few hours.

2. Anxiety and restlessness

“Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, meaning it can affect the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain and contribute to feelings of anxiety and restlessness. 

“If you’re an anxious person to begin with, caffeine is likely to exacerbate these feelings given the increased energy it’s giving your brain,” reveals Shona.

“If you’re struggling with feelings of restlessness or anxiety, cutting out caffeine is a great place to start.”

3. Muscle tremors and twitching

With caffeine stimulating the nervous system and enhancing neural activity, it’s not uncommon to experience muscle tremors and twitches after consuming a particularly high dose. 

“These twitches are most common in the hands and eyelids but can occur anywhere across the body,” says Shona.

4. Stomach problems 

You may be familiar with the sudden urge to go after drinking a coffee.

“That’s because caffeine has a mild laxative effect when consumed, often leading to stomach cramps or discomfort. 

“Caffeine also causes your body to increase the production of acid in your stomach, which can lead to other nasty symptoms like acid reflux or heartburn,” says Shona.

5. Skin irritation

Shona reveals that some people are actually allergic to caffeine, and “it’s more common than you think”. 

“The symptoms of this particular allergy include an itchy rash made up of red bumps, swelling of the lips and tongue, and in some cases, hives. 

“Remember that some beauty brands use caffeine as an ingredient in various creams and serums, so make sure you always check the label!”

6. Needing to wee more 

Caffeine is also a diuretic, according to Shona, which means it can cause you to wee more.  

“If you’ve noticed you’re spending a lot more time on the loo of late, it might be worth cutting down on the coffee.”

7. Mood swings

Caffeine can also affect your mood, leading to mood swings and also irritability. 

“Because it affects your central nervous system, it can increase the release of excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine, which gives you an initial lift before causing a crash in your mood when the caffeine wears off,” says Shona.

“If you find that your mood fluctuates throughout the day, particularly after you’ve consumed some form of caffeine, it might be time to swap it out for a slow-releasing energy source.”

Try green tea instead, or opt for decaf. 

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Shona recommends B vitamins too as they “are essential for energy production and brain function”. 

Hungry? A banana can help you feel energised plus they contain L-tryptophan which Shona says converts into serotonin, your ‘happy hormone’. 

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