It’s safe to say some of us can’t quite start the day without a cup (or three) of coffee.
Coffee can make us feel more alert, awake and prepared for the day ahead. But cutting the habit might be the key to more energy and better health, nutritionist Michaela Sparrow tells Starts at 60. Not to mention, it could save you money as well as calories! But kicking that daily caffeine habit isn’t easy.
The benefits of a caffeine-free life can include less anxiety, fewer headaches and healthier (and whiter) teeth. Studies have found that daily coffee intake can affect your sleep, so taking it out of your diet may also help you sleep better.
It might also help your bones stay stronger in the long run. Caffeinated beverages like cola, tea and coffee contain compounds that have been found to reduce calcium absorption. A calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, where bones become thin, weak and fragile.
Another welcome benefit is the effect it could have on your waistline. “If you’re consuming a significant amount of milky coffees or sugary soft drinks, cutting these out will reduce the number of calories you’re consuming and aid in weight loss,” Sparrow says.
It’s important to note going cold turkey from day one is never a good idea. Suddenly cutting yourself off can trigger withdrawal symptoms that can include headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and irritability.
If you want to cut down on your caffeine consumption, easing into it is the way to go, Sparrow says. She advises cutting back slowly over one to two weeks.
“If you’re drinking two coffees a day, cut back to one a day and do this for a week,” Sparrow says. “The following week cut back to one coffee every second day.”
Another great tip is switching to tea instead, which contains much less caffeine than a cup of coffee or can of cola.
“If you’re craving a warm beverage in the morning, try having a dandelion tea — it tastes a lot like coffee without the caffeine,” she suggests.
If you’re battling with caffeine withdrawal, Sparrow says herbal teas like passionflower and chamomile help reduce stress and anxiety, while rubbing some peppermint oil directly to the temples can help ease headaches.
Feeling your energy lagging? The initial first few days without caffeine will probably leave you feeling lethargic, weak and tired. But instead of ruining your efforts and reaching for a cup of coffee, there are ways you can boost your energy levels naturally.
Sparrow suggests incorporating more B vitamins into your diet, whether it’s through food like dairy products, leafy green vegetables or whole grains, or supplements. B vitamins help the body convert the food you eat into glucose, which gives you energy.
Protein can also keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day. She says snacks like a boiled egg, nuts and seeds, cheese, and hummus are all good options.
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