The term addiction isn't something you should take lightly, but if you find yourself turning into an absolute monster that morning you forgot to pick up a cup of coffee at the local convenience store before work, you might just be addicted to the stuff. While you might rather chew off your own arm than break your coffee addiction, cutting back on coffee, like other caffeinated beverages, is something that you might need to power through, both for your health and your wallet. Plus, if you're thinking that having children might be in your future, you'll need to figure out a way to lessen, or diminish, your dependency for at least nine months. One day, your future child might turn into Rory Gilmore and share your coffee addiction with you, but the pregnancy months aren't the time to form this type of bond.
Big life changes aside, caffeine may no longer serve the same purpose it used to, if you drink too much of it. What once used to perk you up in the morning now makes you even more tired, but with a racing heart. If you find yourself missing the special bond you used to have with caffeine, you might want to consider a total detox in order to rebuild a healthier relationship with it. Remember, while caffeine isn't a totally dangerous drug, it's still a drug that alters with your mind.
If you're thinking that coffee-free is the way to be (and bless your soul for this) here are a few ways to cut down on caffeine.
1. Go cold turkey
This is the hardest technique, so let's get it out of the way right now. Cold turkey means that you quit it without any kind of additional help. So, are you used to grabbing 16 ounces of coffee first thing in the morning? Don't.
Be aware, you'll be cranky. Like all drugs, you'll suffer through some withdrawals. You might feel a little listless, tired, moody, and exhausted — simply because your body is revolting this sudden change. Soon, it'll adjust, and be like "Coffee? Psh. Who needs coffee? I got this." But like all change, it'll take awhile to adjust. If you choose the cold turkey method, you're a strong individual indeed — but you might want to give your coworkers a heads up, since if your personality happens to change a bit due to the lack of caffeine, they should be aware of it. It's just the polite thing to do.
2. Try the slow fade
This method is much easier, and probably the preferred way of handling your new lifestyle change. Go for java that is half-caf, or simply lower the amount of coffee you make for yourself every morning. While you might think you need those 16 ounces to function, 10 should be fine. Then, eight. Eventually, you'll be your normal and perky self without it.
If you find yourself grabbing a soda a few times a day in order to perk up, bring some other beverages to work with you that have less of an impact — since if you cut out coffee yet binge on soda, you're not doing yourself any favors. Obviously seltzer water is delicious, but there are other options that'll give you a caffeine jolt without overdoing it, like bottled tea.
3. Disguise the caffeine-free
This method includes a little bit of mind trickery. If you don't know it's decaf, you might not get as angry over the fact that it's decaf. Even if it's putting some decaf pods in an old box that once housed the highly caffeinated stuff — it may sound a little dumb, but it really does work. If you tell yourself it's what you truly crave, you'll start to believe it. This pretty much takes the fear out of the coffee-free challenge a little bit. Replace your goods, and distract yourself with something completely different.
Of course, if you live with roommates, you might need to clue them in if you all share groceries. Coffee-related deceit isn't fair to anyone.
4. Hydrate up
Stock up on some fun waters, and you might not even realize that you replaced your coffee. Seltzer water, flavored water, and even a drop or two of lime juice in some tap water will make you feel fantastic, especially as the weather is getting warmer. Of course you already know how important water is — water flushes out the bad stuff, prevents headaches, and helps energize your muscles. Coffee is often seen as a diuretic, and while it's not necessarily dehydrating you by the minute, it's no match against water.
5. Swap out coffee with exercise
It may sound like I'm saying to swap out candy for Brussels sprouts, but making exercise your go-to activity to help get your mind flowing is a fantastic idea. Gregory Ferenstein from The Daily Beast was put to task when he swapped out his morning coffee for 30 seconds of exercise back in 2013 — and yes, that's 30 seconds, not minutes. He made sure to partake in a heart-pumping weights exercise, and found that it gave him the same exact jolt he would have gotten from caffeine. Also, whether you're standing in line to pay for your coffee or brewing it at home, it'll likely take more time than 30 quick seconds of fitness.
6. Put your focus on your food, instead
Food becomes energy — we learned this back in elementary school, and Andy Dwyer from Parks & Recreation famously learned this as an adult, back in 2011. When we normally grab a coffee, we're looking for a boost of energy. We want to focus and be more productive. Kimberly Snyder, a best-selling author and nutritionist who has been featured in The New York Times, suggests grains like quinoa, colorful vegetables, and nuts. She states that these have complex carbohydrates, which will keep you more alert in the long run. Instead of running out for coffee, maybe have a small tin of mixed nuts in your desk to try and fight the 3 p.m. blues. It'll help your detox for sure, knowing that you have some type of pick-me-up when things get stressful.
7. Log your beverages
We typically don't think about keeping track of how many cups of coffee we drink in a day. However, without this sort of log, the amount we have per day might get a little out of control. Before you can admit you have a caffeine problem, you need to face the facts. If you drink coffee during morning, noon, and night, you may not realize at the time that these high amounts might just be affecting your sleep, requiring you to (you guessed it) crave coffee the next morning.
They say that knowing is half the battle, and it's true with caffeine. By logging your coffee cups, you're giving yourself an even bigger will to quit. Even if your number seems abnormally high, don't get too worried or embarrassed — just know that the only person who can make a difference, and change things around, is you.
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