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How to Kick the Caffeine Habit

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I have just finished this 3 week purification program, and it was an eye-opening experience for me.  The headache I had during the first 4 days of the purification proved to me that I really had become dependent on caffeine.  It started with the 3 cups of coffee in the morning and ended with my favorite soda or iced tea throughout the day.  The purification program got me off of the caffeine, but here are some tips of you’re looking to kick your own addiction.

1.  Don’t quit cold turkey.  Taper off gradually over a period of time to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and irritability.  This gradual process gives your body time to recover and compensate for the missing stimulant.  Typically decreasing your intake by one drink a week will be enough of a gradual withdrawal to avoid symptoms.

If coffee is your thing, one way to wean yourself off of the caffeine is by mixing decaf with your regular brew.  Decaf still contains a small amount of caffeine, but it will help cut your overall intake.  If your coffee is made at work, you can always bring a thermos of decaf from home and mix it with the coffee from work.  If you’re a soda drinker, you may want to try adding in a decaffeinated soda every other time you reach for a drink.  Carbonated, flavored waters are another good alternative.

2.  Utilize other sources of energy.  There are other less-addictive energy sources that can give you stamina to get through your day without the energy crashes of caffeine or sugar.  Ginseng and B vitamins are good natural energy boosters.  They can help your body metabolize food and generate more energy.

3.  Diet is also important for maintaining energy throughout the day.  Blood sugar swings can play a big role in feeling tired during the day.  You can avoid these swings by eating balanced meals with good sources of protein, healthy carbs and grains, and using fruit to fulfill that sweet tooth.  Doing this, your body should produce all the energy you need to get you through the day

4.  Exercise and physical activity causes the body to produce endorphins and adrenaline which are natural sources of energy.  Regular physical activity dispersed in small increments throughout the day can help you eliminate the need for caffeine.  For example, take a brisk walk in the morning when you wake up to replace that morning cup of coffee.  Try to get some exercise while at work instead of reaching for that can of soda or energy drink.  My post on exercising while working may give you some ideas.

5.  Get plenty of rest.  The fact that you are living on coffee and other caffeinated beverages may indicate that you aren’t getting enough sleep to support your lifestyle.  If that’s the case, when you’re trying to kick the  habit, make sure you allow more time for you to get a good night’s sleep.  Just doing this alone may eliminate a big need for caffeine in your life.

By making these changes, you should be able to stop drinking caffeine with little to no ill effects. Depending on how much you consume, you should be able to get off it altogether within a month or two.  Now some people prefer to stop cold turkey.  This may lead to a headache with possible nausea for 2-5 days until the body’s brain chemistry normalizes.  Other side effects like lethargy and mild depression may take longer to shake without the benefits of a good diet, rest, and exercise.

And for those of you out there that don’t see a need to stop their caffeine habit, you may not need to.  Many experts agree that moderate caffeine intake of 100-300 milligrams (mg) per day poses no significant health risks to adults.  There are exceptions to this 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 depending on the brand, with caffeine-free sodas containing no caffeine.   So if you fall within that “safe range”, you may not need to worry about your caffeine intake and go ahead and enjoy that Grande Mocha.

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