For many people interested in living a healthier lifestyle, overcoming caffeine dependency can become an intermediate goal. Too much caffeine in the diet can lead to stomach upset, irritability, nervousness, panic attacks and other disorders. Designer coffee drinks can also add unwanted calories and fat to the diet. But how do you stop drinking caffeine when you’ve come to depend on it for energy? Fortunately, caffeine withdrawal occurs in five days or less with most people, and there are things you can do to ease the way.
First, don’t stop drinking caffeine cold turkey. Ease off it over a period of time to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as headache and nausea. This gradual process will give your body time to recover and compensate for the missing stimulant.
If coffee is your vice, a good way to stop drinking caffeine is to wean yourself off by mixing your regular brew with decaf to make “half-caf” coffee. Nearly every flavor of coffee today is made in decaf, which still contains a small amount of caffeine. By adding a 50/50 mixture of caffeinated and decaffeinated grind together in the coffee maker, you are essentially cutting your caffeine intake in half without sacrificing your coffee. You can also mix flavors like regular vanilla nut crème and decaf caramel truffle for a flavorful treat. If your coffee is ready-made at work, bring decaf from home in a jug or thermos. Fill your cup half way with the decaf before topping it off with the coffee from work.
A soda drinker might try various flavors of decaffeinated soda until you find one you like. Soda made with Splenda™ will not introduce sugar into your body, making it easier to kick the caffeine habit, maintain normal blood sugar levels, and keep calories down. Carbonated, flavored waters are another alternative, and chewing sugarless gum can also help. Cut back caffeine by having a caffeine-free alternative every other time you reach for a drink.
When you make the decision to stop drinking caffeine be sure to take care of yourself otherwise. Get plenty of sleep so that you wake rested, and remember that exercise is a natural stimulant. Even mild exercise done regularly will help “boot up” your body’s natural healing processes, counteracting lethargic feelings that might result from reducing caffeine intake. The more you exercise (within reason) the better you will feel. If you have physical limitations, consult with your doctor or a qualified trainer for the right regimen.
Diet is also important for maintaining energy and a sense of well-being. Avoid blood sugar swings by eating balanced meals with good sources of protein, healthy carbs and grains, and go easy on sweets by allowing fruits to fill the need. Your body should produce all the energy you need when balanced and healthy.
By making these changes, you should be able to stop drinking caffeine with little to no ill effects. After a week of cutting your caffeine in half, reduce it a step further, and so on and so forth, until you stop drinking caffeine all together.
Some people prefer to stop drinking caffeine at once, rather than taking the gradual road. Heavy soda or coffee drinkers that stop drinking caffeine cold turkey normally experience a headache with possible nausea for 2-5 days, after which the body’s brain chemistry normalizes. Other side effects of caffeine withdrawal including lethargy and mild depression can take longer to shake without the benefits of a good diet, rest, and exercise.
Most experts agree that moderate caffeine intake of 100-300 milligrams (mg) per day poses no significant health risks to adults, with some people being more sensitive than others to the drug. An average cup of drip coffee contains 100-135 mg of caffeine, while a cup of decaf coffee contains 2-5 mg. Sodas range from 34-55 mg in caffeine depending on the brand, with caffeine-free sodas containing no caffeine.