12 ways to break your caffeine dependency

Flickr/Merlijn HoekCaffeine addictions can be tough to get rid of.

Caffeinated beverages may give you the jolt of energy you desperately need in the morning, but too much caffeine consumption can actually spell trouble for your body if you aren’t careful.

Not only is caffeine a pretty addicting substance, but the University of Utah states that stimulants like caffeine can spell trouble for your heart. Caffeine also has negative implications on your sleeping habits according to the University of Michigan, as too much caffeine consumed throughout the day can lead to sleep deprivation and a handful of other unwanted setbacks including anxiety, irritability, and increased urination.

And yes, it’s really important to note that regular caffeine consumption will not kill you, but you may want to decrease or limit your intake, especially if you are noticing more setbacks than normal. To help wean yourself off of a serious caffeine dependency, we spoke to some nutritionists and dietitians about some easy ways you can kiss those unwanted caffeine-induced jitters goodbye.

Below are some of the ridiculously easy suggestions they recommend keeping in mind.

Blend decaf with caffeinated coffee.

FlickrIt will help you gradually cut down.

“Reduce caffeinated coffee by 25% each week, replacing that amount with the decaffeinated version,” explained Dr. Pamela Reilly, naturopathic physician, and certified nutritionist.

Cut your usual coffee portion in half with coconut water.

Wikimedia Commons/Crisco_1492It will be extra refreshing.

“Cut your usual coffee portion in half by mixing it with the same amount of coconut water,” said Lauren O’Connor, registered dietitian, and owner of Nutri Savvy Health “Add some ice, and you’ll have a refreshing and tasty electrolyte drink you can enjoy in the morning,” she added.

Drink more water instead.

r. nial bradshaw/FlickrYou’ll want to stay hydrated.

“If you are trying to cut back on caffeine consumption, try drinking more water instead,” O’Connor told INSIDER. To make your water a bit more flavorful, she recommended making your own refreshing fruit-water blends by placing mint sliced strawberries (or cucumber slices and mint) in a pitcher of water.

Prepare for some withdrawal symptoms.

Sarah Schmalbruch/INSIDERThis might include headaches.

Registered dietitian Jennifer Masson recommended keeping a lookout for withdrawal symptoms if you are scaling back on caffeine consumption, as she said you’ll want to make sure you hydrate often, get enough sleep, and have enough ibuprofen on hand.

Eat the right foods for energy.

“You may be used to depending on caffeine for energy, but try gleaning it from food instead,” said Monica Auslander Moreno, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition. Eat frequent, small meals (and snacks) that have fibre, complex carbohydrates, omega 3 fats, and lean protein to balance your blood sugar, she suggested. This also includes eating fresh fruits and vegetables which will work to keep you hydrated, she added.

Avoid added sugars and refined starches.

pelican/FlickrTry to avoid rice while you’re still weaning off of caffeine.

Auslander Moreno explained that you’ll also want to cut back on added sugars and refined starches (white bread, white rice, white flour) if you are weaning off a caffeine addiction, as she suggested that the quick sugar high (and subsequent crash) from these foods will amplify caffeine withdrawal energy troughs you already may be experiencing.

Eat cacao chocolate instead.

“Though cacao does have a bit of caffeine, chocolate is generally well tolerated during caffeine weaning,” Auslander Moreno told INSIDER. Magnesium inside cocoa may aid with headaches associated with caffeine withdrawal, she said, and some studies have linked cacao to having a soothing, calming effect based on neurotransmitter actions, she added.

Switch to green tea.

BI AustraliaIt has less caffeine than coffee.

“If coffee is your drug of choice, another option is to switch to green tea, as it has less than 50% of the caffeine coffee does,” Dr. Reilly told INSIDER.

Increase your vegetable intake.

Kaboompics/PixabayThey could help reduce withdrawal symptoms.

“The antioxidants inside fruits and veggies help reduce the cell damage caused by free radicals and may help reduce withdrawal symptoms,” Dr. Reilly added.

Use less coffee in the coffee machine to trick yourself.

trekandshoot/ShutterstockYou’ll get the same amount of coffee but with less caffeine.

“A clever way to cut down coffee consumption a little each week is to still drink the same amount of the liquid, but allow it to contain less caffeine,” said Lyuda Bouzinova, co-founder of Mission Lean and ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. If you typically put two tablespoons of coffee in your coffee machine, try using one tablespoon instead, she suggested. Continue to repeat until you don’t need any caffeine at all, she added.

Just say no to caffeine after noon.

ShutterstockIt might make it easier for you to fall asleep at night.

“The earlier in the day you stop drinking caffeine, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep at night,” Bouzinova told INSIDER. If you fall asleep earlier, she said it will be easier for you to wake up early without any extra help from caffeine.

When in doubt just work out.

Skydive Erick/FlickrIt can help you feel awake.

“Nothing will wake you up faster than getting on a treadmill, bike, or doing a HIIT workout first thing in the morning,” Bouzinova added. Yes, the first five minutes might be very painful, she said, but once your heart rate elevates and you start sweating, you’ll be much more awake and feeling way better than after just drinking a cup of coffee.

For more great stories, head to INSIDER’s homepage.

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