How to quit caffeine easily

How to quit caffeine easily

February 20, 2017

By Nutritionist, Samantha Gemmell

In the haze of high and mighty new year's resolutions, you might have vowed to surrender coffee. Or energy drinks. Maybe even both! Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, putting it into motion is far less easy than you thought it would be.
Luckily, we have some answers for you that might make giving up caffeine a bit easier.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine isn't just the nectar of the gods you might believe it to be. On a chemical level, caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system. It is a psychoactive drug that can be lethal in very large doses. It can affect your whole nervous system, and therefore your entire body – sometimes in a good way, but sometimes in a bad way.

What are the downsides?

Consuming caffeine regularly is reported to have some benefits. But if you're looking to wean off it, it's most likely causing you at least some of the downsides:

  • Sleeplessness and insomnia
  • Palpitations or racing heart beat
  • Reduced gastric secretions and poor digestion
  • Accelerated leaching of calcium from the bones
  • Increased urination and dehydration
  • Increased anxiety and jitteriness
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Interact with multiple medications

People with caffeine sensitivity may experience many other symptoms on top of these. For example, some may find they have poor concentration due to the excessive stimulation of the nervous system.

If you're experiencing one or many of these symptoms due to caffeine use, it might be time to give up your morning coffee.

Going cold turkey

When you go from multiple hits of caffeine a day to none overnight, it's not going to be pleasant. In fact, it will be downright painful.

When going cold turkey, the withdrawal symptoms are much worse. Many people experience debilitating headaches and overwhelming fatigue. For migraine sufferers, frequency may increase for the few weeks of withdrawal.

That might be ok if you only work a few hours a week from home and have few responsibilities. But for the majority of people with full time jobs, study commitments, children, or all of the above, it's not achievable. You need something to bridge the gap between all of the caffeine and none of it.

Theobromine is your friend

Bridging the gap is where theobromine comes in. Theobromine is similar to caffeine, but is much milder and far less addictive.

It also has more of a calming effect on the body, compared to caffeine. Theobromine is far more gentle on the nervous system, giving it a gentle nudge. This means you get a bit of an energy boost without the side effects.

The easiest way to get theobromine into your day? Cacao tea. Although chocolate might be your initial thought, it's a lot healthier to use a tea version.

It's also a better direct switch – your body is used to drinking beverages at particular times of day. Many people use coffee as a breakfast replacement due to lack of appetite. Cacao tea is perfect to sip on when you don't feel hungry.

How to make the switch

How quickly you shift across depends on how much short-term discomfort you're willing to take. You might switch straight across to cacao tea, or you might do it one cup at a time.

For a straight swap, simply replace every cup of coffee, or every soft drink/energy drink, with a cup of cacao tea. You can add some milk to make it a hot chocolate if you prefer a creamier taste.

For a gentler switch, replace 1-2 caffeinated drinks with cacao tea. After a few days, replace another 1-2, until all of your extreme 'energy-boosting' drinks are switched for cacao tea. You can then keep drinking cacao, or if you prefer, add in other herbal teas for a change of flavour.

If you're making an instant switch, start later in the work week. That way, if you do feel fatigue or headaches, it's less likely to affect your work week. Most symptoms are worst between days 2-4.

Other handy tips

Introducing theobromine is a powerful way to ease the transition away from caffeine. But there are other handy tricks you can add in to make it even easier. They include:

  • Increase your fluid intake – keeping hydrated with plenty of water and herbal teas will help soothe symptoms and reduce the likelihood of a headache
  • Move your body – endorphins are natural painkillers, so whenever your head is throbbing, get your heart pumping!
  • Meditate, or nap – either one helps you to get into a state of a calmed nervous system and deep breathing, which helps with blood flow. Better blood flow means fewer headaches and improved energy

Why not make the switch today? Our delicious cacao tea will help you to free yourself from caffeine in no time – and it'll taste great every time.

Do you have any other suggestions for drink swaps?

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