Every few months, I go through a phase where I want to kick the ol’ coffee habit for a while. I’ll look up “tips for quitting caffeine,” try out a few new strategies, and ultimately experiment to see how different I feel with or without it. My reasons for quitting caffeine vary — sometimes it’s to get on a better sleep schedule or for health reasons (i.e. adrenal fatigue), and other times it’s been because I’m just plain up for a new challenge. This time around, it’s a combination of all three, fueled mostly by my discovery of Teeccino Herbal Coffee (thanks to Primal Palate via Instagram). I didn’t think I’d really truly ever find a replacement for my love of a good cup of java, but this stuff is a game changer. More on that later.
When I am consuming caffeine, on a typical day I’ll have 1-2 cups of coffee. I have to drink it by 10-11am at the latest as my mind will NOT rest at night if I have it any later in the day. I sometimes envy those who can drink it clear up until dinnertime and fall asleep without any issues, but I’ve learned that I am certainly not one of those people. (Side note: You may find that you’re OK to have more or less caffeine on an average day and be totally fine — and that’s cool. For me, I know that I do better without it, and I figure you can’t know this unless you’re willing to experiment!) If you’re interested in learning all about effects of (and science behind) caffeine, check out this Fed + Fit podcast episode #19, Caffeine 101.
And if you’re ready to tackle your own #nocafproject, here are 4 tips for quitting caffeine that I hope you’ll find useful.
- Plan ahead of time. If you’re hooked on coffee, chances are you do not want to go cold turkey and stop drinking it one day. If you do end up suffering caffeine withdrawal effects that 50% of people report, you might be down for the count for one to nine days. Much like any lifestyle change, forming a habit does require a bit of planning and hard work. Take a look at your schedule and pick a week that you have some down time or is more low key than others (as opposed to choosing final’s week or the date of a huge business pitch). This will help ease into the transition. I’ll be honest – I didn’t do a great job with this one and could have done a lot better at planning my foray into the un-caffeinated world in advance. But my impulsive tendencies took over and while I did ease into the habit (see #2), I rushed into my decision to go from 50% caffeine to 0% within one day. Not unexpected, I suffered mega headaches, fatigue, and sugar cravings for the first 2-3 days which eventually subsided into more manageable side effects.
- Ease into the habit. Along with picking the right timing that works best for your schedule, consider reducing caffeine intake slowly over the course of 7-10 days. You can mix in part decaf (try 25%, then 30%, and so on) with your regular coffee or enjoy a cup of black or green tea in place of coffee. I discovered Teeccino’s Gluten Free Herbal Coffee (Dandelion Caramel Nut is INSANE) which is all natural (including the added flavorings), has zero caffeine, and is basically the best thing that I’ve ever tasted. You can buy it on Thrive Market or Amazon. I mixed 1 scoop of Teeccino in with 2 scoops of coffee grinds in my French press for a few days, then eventually nixed the coffee altogether and now I only drink the herbal coffee every morning. And I gotta tell you, it’s an amazing feeling to have an extra cup of “coffee” knowing that it won’t keep me up late at night, tastes just as great, and doesn’t have any nasty side effects.
- Create a new morning ritual. One of the toughest parts of quitting caffeine is losing the morning ritual comes along with it. I, like many others, enjoy quiet mornings preparing, making, and sipping a cup of coffee while catching up on news and email. It’s one of my greatest joys and one of many things that I love sharing with friends and family. Now comes the secret…you don’t have to lose that experience! Instead of cozying up with coffee, enjoy herbal tea in the morning (ahem, Teeccino), treat yourself to a walk. or spend a few minutes meditating. It’s a great opportunity to form a new habit while still savoring those precious moments for yourself.
- Load up on extra water, greens, and sleep. Last but possibly most important, make sure to be extra gentle with yourself during your caffeine detox. You’ll likely need extra sleep, plenty of water, low key exercise, and lots of extra veggies. Don’t forget to pack in extra vitamins too (my go-to favorites are D and B3 complex, but be sure to check with a practitioner for your individual needs). During the first few days of my caffeine detox, I gave in to extra sugar cravings, made sure to go to bed extra early, and loaded up on green juice for a mid-morning energy boost each day (my favorite green juice combo is spinach, romaine, cucumber, green apple and lime — you can’t go wrong). It made a huge difference and helped make the transition much less painful that it could have been!
While quitting caffeine is not all rainbows and unicorns, it is manageable with the right approach. With a little extra planning, a new morning routine, and lots of extra self care, you can make it happen. If you’re up for the #nocafproject, make sure to tag us on Instagram (Whole Health Hacks) or give us a shoutout on Facebook.