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9 Tips to Beat Caffeine Addiction Painlessly (We Promise!)

March 13, 2014

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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. It’s a slippery slope toward needing a triple-venti-extra-shot in an IV drip to your arm just to fend off a 3 PM headache!

Sure, most caffeine addictions aren’t that extreme, but if you drink coffee, tea, or soda in large quantities, weaning yourself off of them slowly can decrease unpleasant side effects like irritability, headaches, trouble sleeping, and grogginess. Plus, when you get your energy from non-caffeinated sources like whole foods, good sleep, and exercise, you’ll find that it’s longer-lasting, more stable, and better-feeling all around.

If you want to eliminate caffeine from your diet (or at least cut back significantly), consider these tips to make the process as painless as possible.

1. 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.

2. Find satisfying replacement drinks. Replace at least one serving of your favorite caffeinated drink with filtered water and fresh lemon juice, warm or cold. Every few days, cut back one more serving until you no longer crave any caffeine.

3. 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.

4. Stay active. Fatigue is one side effect of coming off caffeine. Combat that by increasing your activity each day. 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!

5. Eat a protein-rich snack in the afternoon. A handful of pumpkin seeds or almonds will help you power through the afternoon without a cup of coffee.

6. 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.

7. If you must drink something with caffeine, opt for green tea. Green tea has much less caffeine than coffee or black tea, plus powerful antioxidants.

8. 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.

Being physically dependent on caffeine means you have to keep adding more to maintain your alertness and concentration. Kicking the caffeine habit will lead to better quality sleep and fuller, more productive days.

What is your favorite  caffeine-free way to get energized? Share in the comments below!