Updated in February 2020
Usually, when the conversation turns to quitting coffee, opinions run strong and deep. Believe me, I am fully aware that this is a pretty touchy subject. So before I continue on with this post I want you to know one thing: I am not trying to talk you into quitting. This post is meant for those who have already decided they would like to quit and are looking for a way to do it.
Maybe coffee is the one part of our morning routine you can’t even imagine ever giving up. Or you have tried in the past and failed for one reason or another. I just want you to know that this is a completely judgment-free zone. No coffee shaming here!
I was one of those people who didn’t have much of a drive to quit. Why on earth would I want to ditch the one thing that eased the whopping headache I woke up with almost every day? It got so bad I couldn’t stay in bed, and only coffee would magically relieve it almost instantly. Of course, deep down I knew that the same coffee I was using to get rid of my headache was actually the root cause of my throbbing skull. Knowing and acting on that knowledge, however, are two very different animals. Denial is a powerful thing, my friends. Isn’t it amazing what we will put ourselves through sometimes, just because we want to avoid the hassle of doing what it takes to get better?
A lengthy visit with a naturopath spurned me on to give ditching the caffeine habit a shot. Her confidence in my ability to actually quit coffee greatly exceeded mine. But after mulling it over for a few days to formulate an actual plan I was ready to proceed with operation “ditch coffee”. I knew I needed a solid plan to ensure success. After trying to quit cold turkey in the past, I knew better than to jump in without a real plan.
Now I can proudly proclaim that I QUIT COFFEE. For real. (see update on bottom of post)
And just to err on the side of caution, I actually, I quit a little while ago, but I wanted to make sure that it really, truly stuck. You deserve to hear from someone who has gone through the entire process successfully, not some windbag who is making empty claims that she can’t back up, am I right?
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Before I walk you through the exact steps I took to ensure quitting success, let’s take a closer look at why you might want to give it a try.
There are various reasons for choosing to quit coffee (and with it all caffeine). As I mentioned above this post is not really intended to talk you into quitting. Still, there are some compelling arguments for it. Quitting or cutting down might just make sense for you if you have experienced one or more of these:
Possible Effects of Coffee Consumption
- increased stress hormones
- elevated anxiety
- irritated stomach lining and increased heartburn
- withdrawal headaches
- adds significant calories if sugar, cream or artificial or flavored creamers are used
- stained teeth
- contains mold/mycotoxins
- exposure to pesticides (unless you drink organic) – coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops
- possible increases of excretion of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, potentially causing electrolyte imbalance
Why not just switch to decaf? Well, it turns out that caffeine inhibits the growth of mycotoxins on coffee beans. Decaffeinated coffee is said to contain higher levels of mycotoxins.
Did you know that coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops on earth? Even if you decide not to quit, opt for organic coffee. Your body will thank you.
I am not going to bore you with too many details why I decided to quit, but a few of the above-mentioned reasons certainly applied to me. In a nutshell, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, not to mention waking up with a huge headache early each morning. So when my natural health practitioner urged me to give it up, I was all too ready to oblige.
Today I would like to share with you how I quit the coffee habit with relative ease and why I know you can too!
I found a solid strategy for quitting coffee the easy way. Because at my age, if it’s not easy, it’s just not going to happen.
Again, this is written with the assumption that you have decided to quit and are looking for a good way to accomplish just that. If you are happy with the way you feel and see no need to quit, don’t.
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The Three-Step Guide to Quitting Coffee for Good the Easy Way
Know Your Solid Reason for Quitting
Any time you are planning to make a major change like this and believe me, this is major, one of the most important things is that you are crystal clear about the reason(s) for making the change. Ask yourself: What do I stand to gain from giving this up? I have encountered many people who are either declaring or are in the process of making huge changes but cannot explain WHY. This, my friends, is your foundation for success in quitting coffee. Find your reason and it will help you get through the tough part.
Don’t make this a broad statement like “I just want to feel better”.
Be specific: What are you expecting to gain from making this commitment? For me, it was losing the morning headaches that often awoke me from a deep sleep much earlier than I wanted to be awake. It was the desire to reduce stress and anxiety. as well as the need to find better solutions to get me through the day without a huge slump in the late afternoon. And last but not least, the goal to sleep better at night overall. Your reasons may be different. Write them down if necessary to help you stay on track in weak moments. Frame them in a positive way!
Substitute your Coffee
You have your solid reason to quit, now it’s time to plan how you will actually go about it. For many holding a cup of steaming java just starts the day outright. I have always cherished that quiet, uninterrupted time, first thing in the morning when it’s just my cup of coffee and reading up on my favorite blogs. It starts the day outright. Quitting coffee seemed so unappealing mainly because I really didn’t know what to replace it with. So let’s start there.
When my NP first floated the idea of ditching coffee, the first thought that came to mind was: “What can I drink instead?”. Frankly, I had no idea. I just knew that regular tea wouldn’t cut it. Turns out I was wrong. There are in fact pretty passable coffee alternatives that mimic the taste and feel of coffee remarkably well. My favorite is Teeccino, which comes in yummy flavors as French Roast, Vanilla Nut, Dandelion Caramel Nut, and Chocolate, just to mention a few. Dandelion Caramel Nut is my coffee alternative of choice because it is one of the few that does not contain barley, a no-no when following a gluten-free diet.
Many of the coffee substitutes listed may not be easy to find in your local store. They are readily available to order online. I get mine here, but you can also order it on Amazon. Two bags of this tea are enough for a 10 cup pot!
If you prefer to create your own substitute, check out this recipe by Katie on wellnessmama.com.
Are you used to adding creamer? Go ahead and continue using your favorite kind unless it’s loaded with sugar. I opted to swap out the old half and half for full-fat organic coconut milk and can attest to its yummy-ness. If you are used to powdered coffee creamer you might want to try this healthier soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free version.
Make a Plan to Quit and Stick to it
Once you have found a substitute you like, set a date to begin the quitting process and realize your goal. Make sure you don’t plan to start during particularly stressful times like the holiday season or when you are in the middle of a major remodel. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but why make it harder than it has to be?
Not necessary, but nice: Treat yourself to a snazzy new cup!
This is a process that will take time and it varies from one person to the next. Caffeine is a legitimate addiction and there will likely be side effects that can make you want to give up trying to quit. Cold turkey is not the way to go.
Start out by cutting your coffee consumption in half for a week. That is usually enough time to give your body a chance to get used to the change. After sticking to the reduced amount diligently for a week, you are ready to cut down more. Cut the amount you consume in half yet again. Continue to do so until you are down to nothing. For me, it took nearly 3 weeks for me to cut out coffee completely.
Know that the first few days may not be easy. If you find yourself missing that second cup, begin substituting a cup of Teeccino. No feeling deprived is key here. Phasing in your coffee substitute of choice adds important fluids as well.
Be sure to cut out all forms of caffeine as you are going through this process to prevent yourself from sabotaging the process! Opt for sparkling water with a touch of natural flavor in place of sugary caffeinated soda! You don’t want that stuff in your body anyway!
Cutting down caffeine consumption gradually greatly reduces side effects felt from quitting coffee.
The morning headaches quickly tapered down for me. While I was worried that I might not make it through the afternoon without my dose of caffeine, surprisingly, I was able to continue functioning just fine without it.
If you are struggling with the afternoon slump, you may discover that a walk around the block or a quick, timed power nap can do a lot more to restore waning energy levels. Turn to nuts or fruit for a quick pick-me-up. Replacing substances like caffeine and sugar with healthier snacks and drinks helps keep your blood sugar levels even and gives you a much better shot at success.
Going through the process gradually allows you to find other, healthier ways to deal with those kinds of situations.
Finally, don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up. Just don’t make it a habit. It can be incredibly tempting to go for your favorite cup at the local coffee shop, but there are tasty alternatives. Begin thinking of yourself as someone who doesn’t drink coffee. I know it might sound simplistic, but it works!
Confession: I fell off the “quitting coffee” wagon for a while. It was just too hard to refuse my Mom’s delicious German coffee. As I am writing this update, I am going back through the process of quitting after my headaches returned with a vengeance. Additionally, I raked up a couple of other health problems that are known to be strongly influenced by coffee/caffeine consumption (GERD and Fibrocystic Breasts).
Thankfully, I feel confident that quitting is not only possible but totally worth the effort. I hope you find this post helpful and would love to hear your input. If you have either struggled with quitting coffee/caffeine or succeeded, please share your story and insights.
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