Many people come to me looking for help to improve their health, body, energy and lifestyle and are willing to commit to making changes. All except one. They will not give up their coffee.
It’s wonderful to decide to pursue a healthier diet and lifestyle, even if that means keeping your coffee in for now (or forever). You can still get wonderful results and get a much improved sense of wellbeing, lose weight, gain energy and much more.
It’s when it comes to reaching even greater levels of health, getting your body working truly on its natural functions (rather than on false stimulation from coffee) and when you are trying to heal from a more stubborn condition or disease that regular coffee consumption becomes a real hindrance.
There are three aspects to look at if you drink coffee and want to improve your health but you’re finding it hard or don’t want to kick the habit.
1. Upgrade your current coffee of choice
If you are just not ready to let go of your coffee, look at how you have it, when you drink it and what you have it with.
How you have it…
Do you have your coffee with pasteurised non-organic cow’s milk and two sugars? Time to upgrade.
- Have your coffee with almond milk if you can get it, rice milk or goat’s milk. If you must have cow’s milk, at least pick an organic one. Many coffee shops are starting to provide more than just full fat or reduced fat cow’s milks. Always ask your favourite coffee shops if they can stock another option for you. The more you ask (and get others to ask too), the more likely they will eventually meet your need and get some better options in.
- Time to replace the sugar too! Refined sugar is one of the most harmful substances you can consume. Faux sugars are just as bad, if not worse! Forget the splenda, equal, hi-low or any other chemical laden “diet” sweetener. Instead use stevia drops, coconut sugar, xylitol, raw honey or yacon syrup. The taste won’t be exactly the same but it might even be better! These sweeteners have fuller flavours and can easily add the same level of sweetness to your coffee.
- Or have it black. This is far less damaging provided it’s not a double shot of espresso twice a day.
When you drink it…
Are you drinking your coffee first thing in the morning? Make it your commitment that you will at least have a few big glasses of water or water with lemon or lime juice (very alkalising!) before your coffee. This will help to counter some of dehydrating and acidifying effects of the coffee.
What you have it with…
If a ciggie, croissant, muffin or egg and bacon sandwich are your constant companions to your daily cup, now’s the time to stop the mental association. Just like when someone has one glass of wine with a giant bowl of salted and roasted peanuts, often the most damaging part of the coffee is what you have with it.
Look at what your associations are and ask yourself if you really need to have both? Perhaps you can choose higher quality options for one of them as you slowly but surely shift your patterns of associations and habits. It might feel hard at first but it truly is just a habit that needs breaking.
2. Replace the coffee with a less damaging option
If you feel ready to try alternative options to your coffee, this will be an amazing step forward for your health.
Below I list some of my top suggestions for other drinks that may hit the spot for you. Obviously these options are NOT coffee, therefore they don’t taste exactly the same or give you exactly the same experience, but as you’ll see, they have a lot of merit.
- Switch to green tea. Green tea contains caffeine so it’s a great replacement if you are looking for a buzz from your daily cup without the extreme acidity of coffee. Green tea has in fact been purported to have many help benefits. It is my opinion that anything that acts as a stimulant shouldn’t be over consumed, so I don’t see green tea as the healthiest tea around, but it’s far better than coffee.
- Peppermint tea. An even better choice than green tea for it’s lack of caffeine, but it still gives a pep to your step. It’s energising and uplifting and great to keep you focused and energetic. If you have been drinking coffee daily for a long time the subtler lift of peppermint tea may not be obvious to you at first, but as your body becomes less reliant on stimulants you will feel the energising effect of this wonderful tea. My favourite is a blend of Tulsi and peppermint tea.
- Green vegetable juice! OK I hear you. It’s nothing like coffee in terms of taste and temperature but it’s an amazing replacement for coffee because it gives such an incredible energy boost and natural buzz. All that vegetable liquid goodness gets into your bloodstream within 15 minutes and starts working its magic rejuvenating you from the inside out. Huge bonus that it’s also extremely alkalising (i.e. amazing for your health!), easily digested and packs a powerhouse of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes. I wrote more about vegetable juice and its benefits here. Start your day with this natural energy giver. Two of my current favourite green juice recipes are this Cinnamon Lime Green Juice and this Mexicana Green Juice.
- Water with lemon and lime juice and stevia. Often times clients tell me they just need something yummy to start their day and coffee seems the best fit because they are used to it and it tastes good. Just having water makes them feel uninspired to get out of bed. Enter water with the juice of a lemon or lime and stevia drops to sweeten, like my Lime-Ade. It’s totally delicious, a great way to hydrate without having to force water down and like the green juice, it’s alkalizing and health giving.
- Teeccino. This stuff is amazing! You can get Teeccino, a natural coffee replacement, that truly smells and tastes very similar to coffee! You can get many different coffee flavours or even chocolate or chai. It’s totally delicious and brewed in a French press/plunger so the whole coffee experience is mimicked beautifully. With a splash of almond milk and vanilla stevia you can die happy.
- Dandelion coffee. Another coffee alternative which tastes great, if less like coffee than Teeccino. You can buy it in teabags so you just throw it in your cup and add water for a black “coffee”. Or add almond milk and a healthy sweetener. Just be sure to read ingredients on any dandelion coffee products you buy. You want straight roasted dandelion, not the ones that come with milk powders, preservatives and sweeteners!
- Carrot juice with cacao powder and stevia. Get a buzz from a little bit of raw cacao blended into some straight carrot juice (or a blend of carrot, cos/romaine lettuce and spinach leaves which is super creamy and great for greener tastes). Add one tablespoon of cacao to a half litre/16oz of juice. Add stevia to taste and go crazy on any extras you like such as cinnamon, vanilla etc. Unbelievable!
- Water! This isn’t a replacement for the taste and experience of coffee, but it’s important to note that oftentimes when someone reaches for coffee they are looking to quench their thirst and coffee will actually only dehydrate you further. Reach for the water first, jazz it up as per the points above and hydrate. The need for coffee may diminish.
3. Look at what coffee gives you and see where else you can get it
Often someone reaches for coffee to fulfil a need that the coffee won’t actually meet. It’s like emotional eating so we’ll call it emotional drinking. You want familiarity, comfort, and pleasure. You’re bored, tired, and lonely. So you reach for coffee.
Start looking at what coffee gives you and what emotional state you are in when you reach for it. You will begin to see what you are “using” the coffee for.
If the coffee is the kick-start to your day, to give you energy when you don’t have it, it’s time to look at your diet and lifestyle choices.
What you’re eating, your exercise (or lack of) routine, stress levels, happiness, sleep quality, hydration, deficiencies and imbalances and all that good stuff. All of this must be looked at and changes made in a realistic and supportive way to enable you to say no to extra stimulants that you feel you need for energy but that are only detracting from your health. If you are ready to look at these things, I can help you
It’s also worthwhile trying to recreate or replace the experience coffee gives you. For example, get a herbal tea in a coffee mug or takeaway cup and sip slowly. I get a kick out of taking hot herbal tea in a thermos when we go on road trips. I haven’t drunk coffee for 10 years and I still love that cosy feeling it gives.
Even if you don’t drink coffee, perhaps some of these alternatives appeal to you – they are delicious after all!