Last week, we explored the effect excess coffee consumption is having on our health. Hopefully, you’ve gained new insight, and maybe even view your daily cappuccino differently. If you are ready to beat the bean, here are my tips for freeing yourself from its grips…
Coming off the juice
The key to kick-starting any shift in your health begins with an effective detox program. I cover this in detail in my book, Love Your Gut and if you're keen to add extra punch to the effects of my eating program, I suggest you partner it with my detox packs.
How difficult it is to kick your caffeine habit depends on a few factors, including how many cups you consume each day. This determines how heavily your body relies on caffeine as a stimulant for various hormones - namely cortisol and serotonin. Let's face it, it can be hard - the biochemical response associated with giving up caffeine can be similar to a smoker trying to quit nicotine, or a sugar addict trying to quit sugar. If you are an addict of all three of these vices, then I suggest quitting one at a time, or you may find yourself on going on a rampage, only to be carried away by men in white coats.
If you’ve only been drinking one coffee a day, then I recommend cutting cold turkey. If this sounds too harsh, try to cut back to one or two per week, before applying abstinence. If you’re on two cups a day then reduce to one, then to one coffee two or three times a week, to none over the period of 10 - 14 days.
Where people are drinking more than two coffees a day, I recommend weaning a little more slowly to allow your body to adjust to the withdrawal from caffeine. You will also need to re-stimulate your body's natural production of serotonin. I recommend supplementing with a quality B complex to assist with natural energy production, vitamin C to balance out healthy cortisol levels, and of course my favourite mineral - magnesium to assist with regulating your electrolyte balance, prevent irritability and aid relaxation. Introducing these basic nutrients will make the quitting process a lot easier.
Coffee is also extremely acidic and causes dehydration, so when weaning its especially important to drink plenty of water (around 2.5 litres per day) to aid in the re-hydration and detox process. This will also fend off those awful withdrawal headaches.
Staying social while giving up the bean
Most of us associate our habit with escaping from the office, catching up with friends and partaking in ‘cafe society'. Quitting doesn’t mean an end to this. It's all about the SWAP rather than the DROP! There are a gazillion and one delicious teas on the market and plenty of beautiful teahouses who provide an opportunity to sample as many varieties as your bladder can withstand. I suggest you swap being a caffeine addict for the art of a herbal tea connoisseur. Your liver and skin and adrenals will love you for this.
I'm all for hanging in my local cafe for a cuppa, but I have learnt to enjoy the buzz and refreshment from a fresh herbal tea. Even freshly chopped ginger can satisfy. So experiment. Tea drinking goes far beyond Twinings Earl Grey and English Breakfast; there's exotic chai, lemongrass and ginger zinger, green tea, rose and vanilla, licorice… the list goes on. T2 have played a huge role in bringing this healthy habit back to cool with their funky stores popping up across Australia.
You can also turn your kitchen pantry into a hub for brewing your own blends by keeping fresh ingredients on hand like ginger, lemon grass, cinnamon quills, star anise, fresh mint, and vanilla bean. Unlike coffee, all herbal teas have medicinal properties to boot, and are a classic example of using food as medicine! See this week's recipe for one of my favourite homemade blends.
So if you're looking for ways to reduce stress in your life, improve your liver function and even reduce cellulite and re-hydrate, then my tip is to kick coffee to the kerb for a while. You might be pleasantly surprised by the long-term improvements to your day to day function.