Coffee Rehab: How to Quit Caffeine and Beat the Addiction Painlessly
Caffeine Addiction is a term you often hear tossed around, but how real is it? And, more importantly, is habitual caffeine consumption really detrimental to your health?
The truth is that caffeine works as a stimulant and is indeed mildly addictive, so if you find yourself craving a cup of coffee as soon as you wake up, there’s science behind it. Plus, regular caffeine drinkers gradually build up a tolerance, requiring more and more caffeine to achieve the same effect they used to get from one shot of espresso.
Coffee is actually a superfood — filled with disease-fighting antioxidants. But, while a reasonable amount can provide some health benefits and boost focus and productivity, when in excess, caffeine consumption could hurt your health and keep you from being your most effective.
“In the right amount, coffee is actually a health food,”- Dawn Jackson Blatner R.D., author of “The Flexitarian Diet,” tells The Huffington Post. “Sixteen ounces of coffee before noon not only can keep you alert but also can prevent diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.”
Over-consumption of caffeine can actually break your focus by causing jitters and anxiety, and lead to poor sleep quality, according to Blatner. High caffeine consumption has also been linked with heightening the body’s stress response and messing with your perception of your own stress levels.
Beat the Addiction, Kick the Coffee Habit
If you want to eliminate caffeine from your diet (or at least cut it significantly), consider these tips to make the process as painless as possible.
Make a list of the caffeine-containing foods you eat
Look beyond the obvious culprits like coffee, tea, and energy drinks. Some chewing gums, for example, have caffeine! Start reading the labels on products and notice which items add caffeine to your diet. Don’t be fooled by decaf drinks either, as they still contain small amounts of caffeine.
Say ‘Hello’ to alternatives
If you must drink something with caffeine, opt for green tea. Green tea has much less caffeine than coffee or black tea, plus many powerful antioxidants.
Replace your daily shot of espresso with a shot of wheatgrass, which packs a powerful punch of nutrients, including vitamins A, C and E, iron, magnesium, and chlorophyll (yes, the stuff that makes plants green — which some holistic practitioners believe is a detoxifier, although there’s scant evidence).
Increase the amount of lacto-fermented foods in your diet
Some people experience constipation when they suddenly eliminate caffeine from their diets. This is because you’ve cut out a source of extra liquid in your diet, and are no longer benefiting from the natural diuretic effect of caffeine. Get proactive about your digestive health by seeking out probiotic foods. Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha are full of probiotics to help digestion and will give your immune system a boost.
Add a 30-minute walk in the afternoon when you start to feel sleepy, or if you can’t get away from work, just take a walk around the office or stand up and do some stretches. Even a little physical activity will help wake you up!
Cut refined sugar from your diet, too
Cutting out these two temptations at once might seem like double the challenge, but one will actually support the other. Avoiding the sugar high and subsequent energy drop of refined sugar will reduce your caffeine cravings. When you feel the need for something sugary, reach for a glass of milk or a spoonful of peanut butter instead to give you more sustainable energy.
Allow more time for sleep
People often first turn to caffeine because they don’t get enough sleep. The solution is simple: change your sleeping habits so that you don’t need a stimulant! If you’re having trouble getting adequate shut-eye at night, there are many all natural, at-home remedies you can try to help you sleep better and battle insomnia.
Practice deep breathing
Deep breathing can be used to fight caffeine withdrawals such as strong cravings, anxiety, and restlessness. At the same time, deep breathing helps to eliminate toxins from your body.
Here are some effective methods to get started:
1. Lie on your back.
2. Place your hands on your abdomen and relax your muscles.
3. Inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your abdomen and then filling your lungs with air. Count to 5 as you inhale.
4. Hold your breath and count to 3.
5. Exhale slowly through your mouth while counting to 5.
6. Continue to do this for around 10 minutes.
If it isn’t viable for you to lie down, you can carry out the exercise while sitting down instead.
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