I’m not going to lie this post is kinda sorta sad for me to write. I’m a coffee lover and it pains me to give it up… hence why the title is how I cut back on coffee rather than how I quit coffee completely. 😉
It seems like very couple months there is a new study released either touting the benefits of coffee or suggesting it’s horrible for us. I’ve always been in the “everything in moderation” camp and think that 1-2 cups of coffee a day is NBD. That said, coffee can affect hormonal function and definitely increases cortisol. And with my recent blood work showing high cortisol levels I decided it was time to give my body a break from caffeine.
I don’t drink soda or eat much chocolate and most of the teas I drink are caffeine-free so the main thing I needed to cut back on was my 2-3 cups of coffee a day. If you’re not sure if you should decrease your coffee consumption, read this article. It might help you decide.
My effort to balance my hormones was a big motivator in this decision and I don’t know if I could have followed through with cutting back if that wasn’t in the back of my mind. Just throwing it out there that you might also need to find “your why” before you start on this journey because if you’re a coffee addict, it’s probably not going to be an easy task. If you drink more than a couple cups of coffee a day it’s recommended that you start slowing cutting back rather than going cold-turkey to decrease the likelihood of experiencing withdrawal symptoms like crazy headaches.
1. Swap coffee for tea or other fun beverages. Drinks like green juice, kombucha, coconut water and iced tea are all great options and almost all of them will give you a energy boost without caffeine. If it were winter I’m sure I’d be drinking hot tea, but since it’s blazing hot out right now I’ve been making iced tea. I usually brew 1-2 cups at a time, let it chill, put it in the fridge and then put it over ice. Sometimes I’ll brew it the night before so it’s cold and ready to drink the next morning. I have a huge stash of different teas, but I’ve found that I love those with a more robust flavor. Here are my two caffeine-free favorites at the moment: Yogi Kava Stress Relief Tea and Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Lane Green Tea. I only had a few bags of the candy cane lane leftover from last year so I’m currently on the market for a mint green tea to try.
Most teas are lower in caffeine than coffee or completely caffeine free. Just make sure to check out the package so you know what you’re drinking!
2. Drink More water. I’ve noticed that as soon as I cut back on coffee I started drinking way more water, which is awesome because staying hydrated has so many health benefits. I’ve always been a big fan of sparkling water and having that on hand has helped as well. Drinking enough water is especially important if you’re used to using coffee as an appetite suppressant or to boost your metabolism. Staying hydrated will keep you from feeling hungry when you’re really just thirsty and can help boost your metabolism too!
3. Find a coffee alternative like Teeccino. This stuff, along with tea, has been lifesaver over these past few weeks. I’m not sure I would have survived without it. It’s a caffeine-free coffee substitute made primarily from chicory root. I was first introduced to Teeccino at Rancho La Puerta and have been a fan ever since. They have a variety of flavors and you can buy it in ground form (which you can brew in a french press) or tea bags. The tea bags are really convenient, but I think the grounds have a bit more body. I’m a big fan of the French Roast Dark Roast and the Vanilla Nut. Note that the regular blend does have barley so it’s not gluten-free. The Dandelion Blend is gluten-free though! There are other coffee alternatives out there as well like Dandy Blend and Yogi Roasted Dandelion Spice Tea. I haven’t tried either of these but I’ve heard good things about them from friends.
4. Order decaf. This is no-brainer, but most coffee shops offer decaf coffee and you can easily buy decaf coffee to brew at home. If I’m out at a coffee shop and craving a cold brew coffee I’ll order a decaf iced americano, which is made with decaf espresso. I know decaf espresso sounds like an oxymoron, but it tastes just like coffee and totally cures my craving. Just a note though, most decaf varieties still have a little caffeine, about a 10th of what’s in a regular cup.
5. Indulge a little, but be careful. I’ve had cold-brew coffee twice over these past two weeks. Both times were at the farmers market where it’s hard to find decaf coffee. Surprise, no one wants decaf this early in the morning except me and the pregnant ladies. 😉 One morning I had a few sips of Isaac’s cold-brew coffee and last Saturday I ended up ordering a cold-brew coffee for myself. It was crazy how quickly I felt the affects! I honestly didn’t think coffee affected me that much, but after having been off it for a while I could tell I was a little wired and talking really fast. I will say that giving myself that treat on Saturday made it really hard to be without coffee on Monday morning. It’s kind of like giving into a sugar craving. Sometimes it’s better just to skip it because otherwise you keep craving it.
6. Take naps. The first two days without coffee were interesting. I didn’t get crazy headaches, but I was totally exhausted even after getting plenty of sleep. I ended up taking an afternoon nap two days in a row, which is really unlike me. I was also ravenous. I’m sure the exhaustion and hunger go hand and hand. My body didn’t have extra energy from the caffeine so I needed extra energy from food. With this in mind, I’d probably recommend starting your journey into less caffeine over the weekend rather than trying to start on a Monday morning. That way, you’ll be at home and able to nap if needed.
7. Go for a walk, stretch or mediate. Instead of waking up and heading straight to the coffee pot, I’ve been drinking a big glass of water and heading out the door for a quick walk or doing some light stretching or a quick meditation. This is the perfect way to get energized for the day.
Overall, the experience of cutting back on coffee has been pretty good. The first two days were the hardest and it’s been must easier since. I’ve had a ton of energy, I don’t feel the urge to drink coffee as soon as I wake up anymore and added bonus, I’m saving a good chunk of money. There are definitely days where I wish I could grab a cold-brew coffee, but I think it’s more out of the habit or the experience that goes along with it, like going to get coffee with Isaac on a Saturday morning. Luckily we can still go out on a Saturday morning and have fun together… it doesn’t have to revolve around getting coffee. I don’t know if I’ll ever cut out coffee completely, but I like being able to make the choice rather than feeling like I’m addicted to it and HAVE to have it to function.
Have you ever tried to decrease or completely cut out caffeine or coffee? How did it go?