Kicking The Caffeine Habit

I have to admit I have an addiction to caffeine. About twice a year I will try to come off of this not so terrible habit of consuming one of the world’s most popular drugs. I’m happy to share with you a technique that works for me.
Nearly 90 percent of American adults drink coffee on a regular basis. More than 50 percent of adults, meanwhile, consume a little more than three cups of coffee a day.
But caffeine is a tricky stimulant to shake. Although tolerance levels vary, drinking just 100 milligrams per day — the amount of a small cup of brewed coffee — and then giving it up can lead to withdrawal symptoms ranging from headaches and depression to flulike nausea and muscle pain.
Caffeine might have some health benefits, but so far research is weak. Some kinds of migraine headaches cause blood vessels to widen which causes the severe pounding head pain. Caffeine temporarily causes them to narrow thus relieving the discomfort. Coffee might also help reduce your risk of Parkinson’s disease.
But coffee — like sugary breakfast foods — can create a cycle of extreme energy swings. The National Institutes of Health reports that caffeine raises blood pressure and increases feelings of stress, anxiety and road rage. It can leave you feeling wired 12 to 16 hours after the previous cup, wreaking havoc on sleep. And it can exacerbate health conditions such as diabetes by making blood sugar rise faster than usual.
To start weaning yourself off the dark, delicious brew, figure out how much caffeine you’re ingesting during the day, including soft drinks and energy drinks.
One strategy is to drink 8 ounces of water when you wake up. This seems to slow coffee consumption and also works if you have a morning diet or regular soda habit.
Some people can go cold turkey. Others need to gradually reduce.
If you’re a heavy coffee drinker — eight cups a day — gradual withdrawal can help prevent the dreaded headaches and fogginess. If you drink two cups, you might be able to bite the bullet and wrestle through a day or two of some slight withdrawal symptoms. If you do go cold turkey, it is best to do it on a weekend or on a vacation.
My approach, because I consume so much coffee, is to gradually reduce the amount of caffeine by drinking half regular and half decaffeinated and gradually increasing the amount of decaf.
You can also try tea — black or yerba mate — which has the richness of coffee without that much caffeine. Rooibos, from South Africa, is an herbal tea that has a rich body similar to black tea, without any caffeine. Green tea and white tea are also great choices.
Fruit juices might seem like a healthy option to coffee, but it’s better to avoid all sugar-sweetened beverages, whether it’s added or high in natural sugar.
The stomach doesn’t feel full, so the brain can’t know it, and you keep eating. Because they [sugary beverages] boost glycemic load, they inflame arteries, disable insulin and clog up the beta-cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made. They can also make the liver store fat. This is not a trade off you want to make.
I also find that consuming several bottles of sparkling water is also a nice substitute. The water is a nice thirst quencher and the sparkling water creates gas in your upper gastrointestinal tract giving you a feeling of satiety.

Bottom Line: It probably isn’t unhealthy to drink a few, one to two, cups of coffee or consume one or two caffeinated beverages a day. When you get to 8-10 cups or bottles a day, then there’s a good reason for finding an alternative. I hope these suggestions are helpful.

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