Here I am sipping on a wonderfully strong, tasty coffee as I read this guest post by Greg Scott. Hmm… yes, if I’m honest with myself, I could probably cut down on a few cups a day. Read these tips if you think you might benefit from a little less caffeine.
Coffee is wonderful. It provides a kick-start for your morning and fuel for your brain. I always seem to do my best when I’m under the influence. The only problem is that you can quickly go from a state of complete focus and mental sharpness to the eyeball-shaking jitters or total lethargy.
Health experts seem to disagree whether coffee is good or bad for you. On one hand, it reduces your risk of certain serious illnesses while producing little effect on the body. On the other hand, it’s addictive, raises your heart rate and can lead to stomach problems.
Whether good or bad, most pot-a-day drinkers know that cutting down would probably help them out. Here are some tips for raging caffeine addicts like me who want to cut down.
Don’t Cold Turkey It
Caffeine is a drug and there are withdrawal effects, especially if you drink a lot. You might feel spacey, sleepy, lethargic, moody or depressed, and withdrawal usually comes with a headache that lasts a couple of days. Although only a small percentage of people who go cold turkey actually experience severe withdrawal, it’s always best to be moderate and ease yourself off of it.
Set a Quota
One thing that has worked really well for me is to decide how many cups I’m going to drink each day. This method is even more effective if you also schedule when you’ll drink them. For example, one cup before breakfast, one cup after, and a cup in the afternoon. Then, give yourself a hard time for not sticking to it.
One of my problems was always that I’d drink coffee first thing in the morning and end up skipping breakfast. Or by the time I finally ate breakfast my stomach would be groaning and I’d be a jittery mess already. Especially if your stomach is slow to wake up like mine, wait until breakfast and start the coffee afterwards. Just waiting a while before that first cup will cut down on your daily intake.
Switch to Tea
After a cup or two of coffee, when you find yourself in the kitchen getting ready to make the next cup, make a cup of tea instead. Go for something herbal that’s not caffeinated. Just sipping on something hot produces the placebo effect and your body won’t know the difference at all.
Trick Yourself into Making It Weaker
I love a cup of coffee that’s so thick and black you can turn the cup upside down and it doesn’t come out. Is that maybe my problem? A great way to cut back is to trick yourself into making it gradually weaker. If you’re making coffee in the pot, add more water each day. If you’re making instant, use progressively smaller spoons.
The Delayed Effect
Finally, here’s something that helped me. I read somewhere that caffeine has a delayed effect. It doesn’t work the minute you take your first slurp. Rather, it kicks in about 30 minutes afterward. That means that if you’re hopped up and feeling good and you’re thinking it’s time for another cup, you’re already where you need to be. Give yourself some time before that next cup and you may find that you don’t need it.
The great thing about cutting down on caffeine is that it starts to actually work again! Your body builds up a tolerance to it when you drink it all day every day. No matter how much you drink, it doesn’t work its perking-up magic. But when you cut back to a moderate amount, you can use it to ward off fatigue or wake up on especially groggy mornings all over again.
About the Author
Another tip I’d like to add is to buy a coffee substitute, like those made from chicory root and use it as you would herbal tea in Greg’s tip above. They are caffeine-free and actually taste a lot like coffee! Do you have a tip for caffeine addicts to cut down?