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Want To Reduce Your Caffeine Intake? Here's A Doctor-Approved Plan To Quit Coffee In One Week

May 10, 2013

If sleep is a problem, it might be necessary to reduce your caffeine intake. Although drinking coffee can have some significant brain-health benefits, it's all about balance—if you're drinking cup after cup of coffee, you might be blocking sleep neurotransmitters, the calming chemicals your body creates to make you sleepy.

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Let it go! Periodically, of course.

Free your body and wallet from the grip of caffeine addiction—but take it slowly. Start by weaning yourself off main offenders such as energy drinks and chocolate. Then start eliminating those not-so-obvious sources, like decaf coffee, some herbal teas, and even some over the counter medications such as Anacin or Excedrin.

From there, it’s on to the big one: coffee. The best way to kick coffee to the curb is to taper off in small increments so as not to trigger those dreaded withdrawal symptoms (especially the headaches). The mission here is to slowly dial down your caffeine consumption, so your body can acclimate over time.

Here’s a strategy to try when you’re finally ready to ditch the caffeine:

  • Day 1: Today, have your usual amount of coffee.
  • Day 2 to Day 5: Blend your regular coffee with 50% decaf (preferably certified organic). Drink that for the next three days.
  • Day 6: Have 25% regular coffee, 75% decaf for one day.
  • Day 7: Start drinking pure decaf.
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A bonus plan.

Care to take it a step further? Try this idea one of my patients came up with to help break his two-cups-a-day habit. As you can see, he added two more weeks to my program to kick coffee altogether.

  • During Week 1, he followed my 1-week decaffeinating plan outlined above
  • During Week 2, he continued on a pure organic decaf blend.
  • During Week 3, he began blending his decaf with a roasted grain beverage called Kaffree Roma, starting with a blend of 50% decaf coffee and 50% Kaffree Roma. Then he went down to 25% decaf and 75% Roma. By the end of the third week, he was only consuming Kaffree Roma.
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Eventually, my patient dropped the Roma as well, and no longer “needs” coffee, decaf, or any coffee substitutes!

Kicking a caffeine habit can be incredibly difficult, but it also can be well worth your while. Your sleep might be longer and of higher quality, and your overall health can improve as well. Who knows, you might even be able to introduce coffee back into your diet someday—only now, it might be more of an aromatic treat than a morning necessity.

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Frank Lipman, M.D.
Frank Lipman, M.D.

For Dr. Frank Lipman, health is more than just the absence of disease: it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Dr. Lipman is a widely recognized trailblazer and leader in functional and integrative medicine, and he is a New York Times best-selling author of five books, How to Be Well, The New Health Rules, Young and Slim for Life, Revive and Total Renewal.

After his initial medical training in his native South Africa, Lipman spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush. He became familiar with the local traditional healers, called sangomas, which kindled his interest in non-Western healing modalities

In 1984, Lipman immigrated to the United States, where he became the chief medical resident at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx, NY. While there, he became fascinated by the hospital’s addiction clinic, which used acupuncture and Chinese medicine making him even more aware of the potential of implementing non-Western medicine to promote holistic wellbeing.

He began studying nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga. Lipman founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in 1992, where he combines the best of Western medicine and cutting edge nutritional science with age-old healing techniques from the East. As his patient, chef Seamus Mullen, told The New York Times, “If antibiotics are right, he’ll try it. If it’s an anti-inflammatory diet, he’ll do that. He’s looking at the body as a system rather than looking at isolated things.”

In addition to his practice, he is also an instructor in mbg's Functional Nutrition Program.

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