10/25/2015 08:38 EDT | Updated 10/25/2016 05:12 EDT

5 Tips for Kicking Your Caffeine Habit

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Close up of coffee overflowing cup

I feel it. The cold air is blowing in, the mornings are darker and some of those habits we attempted to conquer are starting to creep back in. I see you! (But not in any creepy way, I promise.)

We live in a culture that is structured around the consumption of caffeine. We have coffee breaks at work, coffee shops on every corner and even drive-through windows where we can get our java fix if we're in too much of a rush to get out of our cars. I often think about what a different world it would be if people lined up for turmeric lattes the way they do for coffee.

Current trends that have us throwing heaps of butter into our coffee and then calling it a health food don't help my case here, either. It also doesn't help matters when we read the constant headlines that coffee is good for you and filled with antioxidants and other helpful nutrients. If you're looking for antioxidants, there are plenty of other ways to find them -- like in fruits and vegetables. And I might also mention that some of us are actually genetically programmed to better cope with caffeine than others. While coffee may offer some benefit, it has drawbacks that outweigh the good bits for most of us.

Now, a cup of coffee once or twice a week for most people is no big deal. However, if you can't poop without that morning cup, or more so, can't even drag yourself through your day without your caffeine boost -- then we need to talk.

If you suffer from digestive issues, anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, blood sugar issues, dropping mood and energy levels, irregular menstrual cycles, or inability to lose weight around the midsection -- well, read on. It's time to kick the caffeine habit!


Benefits of Cutting Caffeine

  • Better digestion. Having pooping troubles and excess gas? You've got your morning caffeine rush to thank for that. Coffee can cause our stomach to empty prematurely, before our food has the chance to digest properly. That means we're sending undigested stuff down our digestive tract, where it further putrefies and becomes a magnet for bad bacteria. Coffee also has a laxative effect, causing us to eliminate our food before we have the chance to absorb all the nutrients.
  • Improved blood sugar balance. Drinking coffee hurls our blood sugar levels out of whack and messes with our insulin response. Plus, when we drink coffee, we typically dump spoonfuls of sugar into it and sip it alongside a sugary muffin, chocolate bar or doughnut. Or, many of us have elaborate blended coffee drinks that are more like dessert, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Cut the coffee and your pancreas will love you.
  • Reduced stress. Coffee is a stimulant that aggravates our central nervous system and disturbs our adrenal glands, which produce our stress hormones. Consuming coffee can lead to anxiety, nervousness, crankiness and insomnia -- and who wants to be around a wired-up grumpypants?
  • More energy and focus. You might feel an initial rush of get-up-and-go from a cup of coffee, but that level of energy is false and will soon lead you to a terrible crash and burn. Eliminating coffee helps you avoid that mid-afternoon plunge, and you'll experience more clarity, focus and alertness.
  • Fewer headaches. Since caffeine is a stimulant, coming down from it often causes a nasty withdrawal headache that makes you crave coffee more than ever. The solution isn't to drink more coffee, though, it's to drop it for good, and then revel in a pain-free noggin.

Convinced yet that maybe it's time to drop coffee from your life?

Ditch Your Caffeine Dependency

  • Plan for it and stick to it. Cutting caffeine from your life isn't easy. It's a chemical and we get hooked. Plan for the time it may take you to cope with the withdrawal. It would be ideal if the first few days happen to coincide with a weekend so you have the flexibility to take naps or the freedom to be in a quiet space if a headache kicks in.
  • Reduce your cup size. When you're first starting out, try drinking from a smaller cup or only fill your cup halfway. Keep decreasing the amounts until you can kick the habit for good.
  • Drink lots and lots of water. Water keeps us feeling hydrated, helps our bodies flush out toxins and increases energy levels. Keep a water bottle in your bag at all times, and make sure you drink at least eight to 10 cups daily.
  • Choose herbal tea or herbal coffeesubstitutes. When you're craving a cup of joe, pick a herbal tea or a natural coffee substitute instead (my fave is Dandy blend, a mix of dandelion, chicory and beets, which helps us detoxify and tastes exactly like coffee).
  • Bank the weekly coffee budget. Take the money you would have spent each day on coffee and plunk it into a piggy bank. You'll be amazed at how much moolah you'll have at the end of the month -- so either treat yourself to something special for a job well done, or leave the money where it is and keep on saving.

Remember that the process of cutting caffeine is also the process of inviting your body to re-learn how to function without it. Give your body time to adjust. When you think "just a little bit of coffee" won't be a problem in this process, what you're effectively doing is feeding the beast! Avoid this as you'll just have to start the reset all over again.

Of course, I would never ask you to remove this ritual from your day without offering some delicious options.

Morning Drinks Better Than Coffee

Turmeric Tea Recipe

Featured photo: Maya Visnyeu for The UnDiet Cookbook


How much caffeine is in your fave drinks?