Are You A Caffeine Addict? How To Kick The Habit

Written by Adam Hart

Whether you prefer a cup of coffee, a can of soda or an energy drink, you likely choose these types of beverages because the caffeine they contain gives you some instant energy — some pep in your step.

There's nothing wrong with a small amount of caffeine daily, but many people consume way more caffeine than they need. So how do you know when it's just too much?

The Effects Of Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, heart rate, respiratory function plus it has mood altering properties. Its effects can last from four to six hours at a time. Caffeine’s ability to make you feel alert is a positive effect for many people, but when over-consumed, caffeine can start to have some negative effects, including anxiety, dehydration and insomnia, among others.

How We Get It

One of the biggest problems with caffeine is how we consume it. Many people ingest caffeine via soda and energy drinks, which are chock full of things like aspartame, sugar, food dyes and a lot of other junk. At least with a cup of coffee you can skip the sweeteners — but beware of specialty coffee drinks, since they can be as sugary as an energy drink.

Caffeine Weight Loss Myth

Many people replace meals with a caffeinated beverage such as coffee or diet soda in hopes of eating less, only to get hungry a few hours later. This usually leads to poor food choices and overeating. As I mentioned above, soda, energy drinks and specialty coffee drinks are usually chock full of sugar and other junk that have no nutritional value.

Are you addicted?

Answer the following questions:

  • Do you experience heartburn, indigestion and stomach upset on a regular basis?
  • Do you replace meals with caffeinated beverages in hopes of losing weight?
  • Do you get headaches if you don't have caffeine?
  • Do you have problems falling asleep and wake up constantly through the night?
  • Do you feel agitated or tired if you don't have a caffeinated beverage in the middle of the day?

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, I challenge you to cut back on those caffeinated beverages for a couple of weeks. I have some healthy alternatives plus some tips to help you avoid withdrawal.

Can't live without caffeine?

Green tea and white tea will give you the caffeine you crave plus a dose of antioxidants. So have a cup (nothing added) in the morning, then switch to lemon water or a decaffeinated tea for the rest of the day.

Ways To Avoid Withdrawal:

  • Don't go cold turkey. If you drink two caffeinated beverages a day, cut back to one and replace the other with a cup of tea or lemon water.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of lemon water a day (cold or hot).
  • Get some extra sleep, whether it's a cat nap once in a while or add an extra hour at night.
  • If you don’t exercise, now is the time to start. Try adding a 15-minute walk into your daily routine. Find a walking buddy.
  • Replace processed foods with more fruits and vegetables. The extra antioxidants and vitamins from plant-based foods will not only help fight withdrawal symptoms, but will help keep your bowel movements regular.
  • Eat raw nuts and seeds! Instead of that afternoon coffee, try a handful of raw nuts and seeds to control cravings.
  • Treat yourself! Once a week, do something nice for yourself — book a massage or plan a dinner party with friends. Make an effort to have something to look forward to each week, even if it’s as simple as going for a walk with a friend one evening.

If you are going to change anything about your diet habits, I always recommend keeping a journal to keep track of those changes and how you feel overall. Oh yeah!

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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