Coffee-drinking is a difficult habit to break, as it presents such a seductive experience. It’s undeniable that the ritual of grinding the beans, waiting for the coffee to filter, and enjoying the aroma and full taste comprise a pleasurable and satisfying ritual. And there’s no getting past the basic fact: good coffee really does taste divine. However, for the sake of your health (and your nerves) sometimes it’s a good idea to drink a little less of it.
You know when you’ve been drinking too much coffee: you feel anxious, your heart’s beating too fast, and you’re talking a million miles a minute. And then when that caffeine high wears off, crash! You’re left feeling tired and depressed. While a coffee or two a day won’t do you much harm if you’d like to reduce the amount of coffee you drink, or even try a couple of days without it, try some of these techniques.
Are you already addicted?
If you work ridiculous hours or have a frantic study schedule, chances are you use coffee as an aid to keep you awake and to help you concentrate long after you should’ve been in bed. While this kind of routine is OK in the short-term, it is very easy to become addicted to caffeine without really realizing it.
If you’re regularly waking up with a headache, or feeling a strong craving for coffee during the day when you haven’t had a cup for a few hours, your body is sending you clear signals that it needs to feed its caffeine habit.
At this stage, you need to make a choice – do you go cold turkey and cut coffee out of your life altogether, or do you just consume less caffeine, and experience fewer symptoms of addiction?
The cold turkey choice is hard going and will inevitably involve a day or two of headaches. It will be kinder to your body if you simply reduce the amount of caffeine you drink until you reach a level of coffee consumption you’re comfortable with.
If you want to drink less coffee, there are plenty of alternatives that can replace your caffeine fix. If you’re feeling particularly virtuous, try one of the dozens of herbal teas available, or a hot chocolate drink.
Or substitute a cup of tea for your coffee: tea contains caffeine, so will give you a mild boost, but is easier on your system as its caffeine content is considerably lower than that of coffee. Try a cup of Earl Grey or English Breakfast, and see if you can alternate a cup of tea for every second cup of coffee.
What if you miss the taste?
If you drink drip-filtered coffee or espresso, you’re not just getting a strong hit of caffeine, you’re also getting a full-flavour coffee taste. If you love the taste of coffee as much as you love the caffeine hit, herbal teas or chocolate are not going to work for you
. Experiment with some of the decaffeinated coffees on the market and at your favorite coffee shop until you find a brand that at least comes close to the coffee flavor you love. Even if you only substitute two cups of real coffee with the decaffeinated version per day, you’re still making a start on reducing your caffeine intake.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways of enjoying the taste of good coffee without drinking 5 espressos a day. There are hundreds of delicious coffee-flavored desserts around if you look for them, even though they frequently contain coffee flavoring rather than the real thing. Some rich coffee ice cream or a slice of quality tiramisu can satisfy even the most hardened coffee addict’s craving for that coffee taste.
If you start to become aware of how often you drink coffee and make a conscious choice to alternate it with coffee alternatives, you’ll be surprised at your new feelings of calm and well-being, as your body adjusts to its newly reduced caffeine levels.