A cup of joe to get through the morning routine. Another as a mid-morning pick-me-up. Perhaps another to battle that post-lunch energy drain. While caffeinated coffee provides short-term energy along with a boost of antioxidants, relying on it too much creates an unhealthy crutch—one often laden with sugar and other additives. But can you kick the habit without the withdrawal you’ve heard about?
First, caffeine withdrawal is not an urban myth perpetuated by coffee distributors to keep you on the bean. Johns Hopkins’ researchers found that the higher a person’s caffeine intake, the more likely that person would suffer through severe withdrawal symptoms.  Those symptoms include headaches, irritability, and the inability to focus, and they start about 12-24 hours after the last caffeinated beverage is consumed.
But, never fear! These 4 tips will help you stave off withdrawal symptoms:
- Take baby steps. Going cold turkey seems like a good idea when you’re ready to start a healthy habit, but caffeine has addictive qualities that trigger withdrawal symptoms. The key to weaning the body is to do it gradually. Reduce caffeine consumption by a half to a whole cup every 2 to 3 days. This allows you to become accustomed to lower levels while reducing headaches and other symptoms.
- Find a healthful replacement. Sometimes it’s helpful to replace one habit with another. In this case, as you cut back on coffee, replace it with low- or no-caffeine options, like healthy electrolyte drinks or refreshing water. If tea is your cup of, well, tea, indulge in caffeine-free herbal or decaffeinated varieties, stick to green teas (which tend to have lower caffeine levels than black or oolong,) or steep a caffeinated variety for a shorter time period. (Caffeine is a water-soluble substance, so the longer you steep, the more is released into the water.)
- Avoid temptation. During the initial stages of a java-reduced lifestyle, avoid situations that make it too easy to reach for that coffee or latte. For example, don’t sabotage yourself by meeting friends to chat at the nearest big name coffee joint. Once you’ve gotten into a healthier routine, you can rejoin the gang with a tea or water in hand.
- Be patient. Did you slip up and give into a craving? No need to beat yourself up. Building a healthful lifestyle is a process, and even the nuttiest health nuts among us pull the occasional “oops.” Simply recognize that you made a mistake, and jump right back into your healthy habits.
Looking to completely boot caffeine or unhealthy drinks from your lifestyle? Then you may be ready for our popular No Soda Challenge. Check it out today!