Hi readers! This post is inspired by my dear friend Nina who requested I address this issue, as she’s in the process of trying to kick her caffeine habit (and not turn to sugar in it’s place). So, I decided to use this space to give Nina a little help, and some tips for anyone else struggling with an addiction to turning to soda, coffee, or sugar to keep you awake through the day.
Here are some steps that I found to be helpful when I was ditching Diet Coke–(I never drank coffee, but I drank at least 6 cans of Diet Coke a day, starting with breakfast)–and giving up sugar-filled afternoon snacks.
- Switch to green tea. Okay, okay. Green tea does have caffeine. But green tea is unique from traditional forms of caffeine in that it also contains L-Theanine, which counterbalances the stimulant in caffeine, offering a calming effect that has been shown to improve concentration. So rather than getting a side of jitters and a post-coffee crash, you get the benefits of energy and a focused mind. Also worth noting, green tea contains 70% less caffeine than a cup of coffee (Source). Plus, there are tons of studies that show green tea has positive benefits like promoting a healthy metabolism and preventing disease. So switching to the leafy brew might be a good first step!
- Get enough sleep. This seems obvious, but if you want to stop relying on caffeine, start by creating a foundation that enables you to feel awake! I know work and school schedules sometimes make it difficult to get 6-8 hours of sleep, but try. Really hard. Make it a priority. And although an occasional wild night out til 3am is always fun, making a habit of it will not help you break your addiction to coffee.
- Exercise in the AM! This is another thing I know won’t be possible for everyone, but please believe me when I say that the endorphins that are released during exercise are FAR more potent than a cup of joe. I am a morning-workout person, and I can go from waking up at 7am until 2 or 3pm before I feel like I really want a cup of tea. It gives me SO much energy. Even just 30 minutes of a HIIT-style workout will do the trick, and you can set the alarm just 30 minutes earlier, right? Try it!
- Wheatgrass Shots & Green Juice. Pure nutrients in a cup. Drinking either of these green glories will allow you to get a jolt without the jitters, with the added benefit of filling your body with amazing benefits. Now, I know not everyone has a juicer, but more and more places are taking the hint and starting to make juice, so check your local health food grocery store or restaurant for an occasional juice buzz. And do you know that Jamba Juice is now serving wheatgrass?! They also have juice, but only carrot, which is one of the more sugary veggies, so I don’t recommend that all the time. (That’s the other think you have to remember about juice: make sure your veggie to fruit ratio is tilted to the veggie-side, otherwise you will get too much natural sugar and it may give you a crash later on).
- Try it for 21-days. You may or may not know that studies have shown it takes 21 days to form a habit. I believe this 100%. I started my love affair with exercise by doing Billy Blanks Tae-bo VHS’s for 21 days (back in the day!), and now exercise is like brushing my teeth. And my beloved Dr. Junger CLEAN program was a 21 day cleanse that helped me kick my addiction to refined sugar, bread, and a variety of other foods that were doing me wrong. And when I stopped drinking soda, I promised myself I’d do it for 21 days and if I wanted it on day 22, I’d indulge. Guess what? I didn’t want it! And those very rare instances when I decide to have some pop at a party or something, I end up being unable to finish it because it tastes so gross to me now! There is hope! 21 days! Get it!
So that’s what worked for me. Anyone else have ideas on how to kick caffeine and/or find alternative sources of natural energy? Share them in the comments below!