You know caffeine in excess isn’t good for you, but you might be surprised to learn just how dependent you are on it. Maybe you’re not one of those people who posts coffee in the morning memes on Facebook every day; maybe you don’t know your Starbucks barista by name.
You might not have a Keurig on your kitchen counter, and if pressed, you might insist that your tea habit is so much better than coffee. But you still might have a problem.
Understanding the level of impact caffeine has on your body might give you the boost you need to cut down … or eliminate it for good. There’s more to it than just being addictive and disturbing your sleep patterns.
For those who think they might be ready to get off caffeine, start with the following few steps. Some approaches may work for you, others may not, but it’s all about sticking with it and finding the best technique for you.
1. Set a feasible goal
If you know you can’t go straight from four cups of coffee in the morning to zero, don’t set that as your immediate goal. Wean yourself off in a challenging yet feasible way.
Maybe you substitute decaf for one of those four cups over the first two weeks, then two cups, and so on. You either know your level of addiction or you’ll find out quickly enough and can adjust your goals.
2. Start reading labels
You’ll be surprised just how much caffeine can be packed into non-coffee items. Becoming a label reader is great for your health in general, and not just when considering your caffeine intake.
If you love the taste of diet soda, there are many alternatives that are caffeine- (and aspartame-) free, such as Diet Rite or Stevia-based sodas.
3. Prepare for the side effects
You might experience fatigue, muscle cramping, mood swings, or serious headaches when you cut down on a serious coffee habit. This is what happens when your body goes through withdrawal.
Anticipate this challenge by having a plan of action in place beforehand, such as a natural painkiller. You might indulge in acupuncture or massage sessions to help you get by.
4. Rally the troops
Your family and friends can be great motivators and will help keep you accountable. Share your goals with them, and you might even get other people on board. There’s power in numbers, and going through the change together can be a great inspiration to make it work.
Most importantly, it’s easier to keep the end result in mind. If you’re struggling to lose weight, knowing that caffeine can help keep the weight on might be the push you need.