Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed stimulants. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s found in everyone’s favorite morning pick-me-up – coffee! Caffeine is one of the most researched substances found in food, and when consumed in moderation, it can be a nice addition to a healthy diet. Some caffeine benefits include improving cognitive function, reducing brain fatigue, enhancing fat burning and more.
So, why quit caffeine? Some people are sensitive to caffeine and experience side effects such as such insomnia, nervousness, irritability and fast heartbeat with its consumption. Others might need to cut it out because they’re pregnant or nursing, or because they have certain health conditions like high blood pressure.
Whatever your reason for quitting caffeine, there are some things you should know to do it painlessly and safely. Here are a few tips to help you on this journey.
Tips for Quitting Caffeine
Start by evaluating your daily caffeine intake
You may be consuming foods that contain caffeine and not even know it! Popular sources include coffee and soft drinks, but other common sources include chocolate, gum and some over-the-counter medications. It’s helpful to assess where your caffeine intake is coming from, how much are you actually consuming and when you are consuming it. This will set you up for success and establish a game plan for decreasing or eliminating it from your diet.
Note that for most healthy adults, research shows 400 milligrams of caffeine daily is OK to consume. In terms of coffee (depending on the brew), 400 milligrams would be the equivalent of two to four cups. Be sure to read food and beverage labels and ingredient lists to monitor your intake.
Decrease consumption slowly
If you drink (or eat) caffeine daily, you may experience some withdrawal symptoms when you quit. Symptoms typically include headaches, increased fatigue, anxiety and difficulty concentrating. If you’re serious about quitting, we recommend slowly decreasing the amount you consume over course of a few days or week. Try mixing half regular-half decaf when you drink coffee. This will allow you to work your way down and hopefully prevent any uncomfortable side effects.
Consider caffeine alternatives
Of course, your morning routine can set the pace for the day, and cutting out your favorite hot beverage at breakfast can really throw things off. If coffee is your go to, consider swapping it out for decaffeinated herbal tea. With so many flavors to choose from (peach, pomegranate, raspberry!), your taste buds will be happy and you’ll still enjoy a warm beverage without the caffeine.
You might also try a caffeine-free alternative such as chicory herbal coffee. It consists of a blend of Mediterranean herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that are roasted and ground to brew and taste like coffee. The “grounds” can be added to your coffee maker just like regular coffee (or use a French press or your favorite pour-over method).
Dandelion herbal beverages are another option. With a rich, full-bodied coffee flavor – and zero caffeine – just mix a spoonful with hot water and enjoy the flavor and benefits without any jitters or side effects.
If you’re a soda person, try drinking flavored seltzer water instead. You’ll get the same bubbly and refreshing flavors and add a hydration boost to your day!
Caffeine is a part of many Americans’ diets, and it usually won’t pose a health problem for healthy adults. It’s great to be mindful of caffeine content in your overall day and assess if it causes side effects for you. Hopefully this tips will help guide you in the right direction to follow a diet that’s best for you!