Why it May Be Time to Kick That Coffee Habit

Caffeine is engrained into our professional, social and even romantic lives (as in meeting that online match for a coffee) and is the most commonly used and most socially acceptable drug in the world. But it may be addictive – and you could be addicted right now. New research published in the Journal of Caffeine Research has found that overuse of caffeine can be dangerous, producing real addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Apparently it may be time to cut back…

Are we too dependent on it? The study, which gathered information on the effects of caffeine use from a wide variety of scientific studies, suggests that many people are dependent on caffeine to the point that they suffer withdrawal symptoms and are unable to reduce caffeine consumption, even at times when they really should – like during a pregnancy or certain medical conditions. The negative effects can interfere with daily functioning, causing irritability and an inability to focus. Some may even need treatment the way they would another addiction.

The withdrawal symptoms are called “Caffeine Use Disorder,” according to co-author Laura Juliano, Ph.D., a psychology professor at American University in Washington, D.C. Based on current research, she advises that healthy adults should limit caffeine consumption to no more than 400 mg per day. That is the equivalent of about two to three 8-oz cups of coffee per day. If you’re pregnant, you should consume less than 200 mg per day. Other groups who should consume less include those with anxiety, heart problems and insomnia.   

Cutting down on caffeine is a challenge as it is difficult to gauge how much you consume daily, especially when things like energy drinks and soda are taken into account, and manufacturers are not required to label caffeine amounts. 

You pride your self-control in everything from your workouts to your work ethics; if you’re downing far more than the suggested amount, why not challenge yourself to cut back?

Here are a few tips to cut back on the caffeine:

1. Don’t go cold turkey
Like any habit, quitting caffeine is difficult to quit abruptly. And if you do take the cold turkey approach after years of caffeine reliance, you will likely feel horrible and experience drowsiness, headaches and difficultly in focusing and concentrating. Instead, cut back gradually.

2. Watch what you eat
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can reduce your cravings for caffeine. Especially if your diet is heavy in carbohydrates (including starches and refined sugars), you may try to offset that crash with a Starbucks visit. To reduce the need and urge for caffeine, eat a balanced meal of carbs, proteins, and fats. Stay away from refined sugar and greasy fast foods.

3. Have another go-to drink
Perhaps your body has become used to sipping something throughout the day, usually at certain times, like clockwork. If coffee drinking has become habit, substitute it for something else like a healthier choice you can feel good about (Starbucks does great smoothies). For a bit of a buzz, this could be something like a green tea or a herbal tea or decaf coffee. In the case of decaf coffee, start by filling a cup 3/4 full with regular coffee and 1/4 full with decaf and then gradually increase the proportion of decaf from there.

4. Add water
Water makes another great alternative for the habitual coffee sipper and will make you feel better as you detox as well. Another way to gradually cut back on the caffeine is to dilute your coffee with hot water, so that you are still drinking the same number of cups per day that you are used to. Begin by adding a little, and then work your way up to half water, half coffee. Staying hydrated also helps to stay more alert when withdrawing.

5. Hit the gym
If you are looking for a stimulant, physical activity is an alternative to caffeine that will make you look better in the process. The natural high you get from working out will fight fatigue as well as irritability when withdrawing from coffee.

6. Get more sleep
One of the main ways we deal with lack of sleep is by drinking coffee. If you went home a few drinks earlier, you wouldn’t need it as much.

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)


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