Congratulations! You’ve taken one of the toughest steps towards quitting coffee: deciding it’s time to do so. It’s not an easy decision to make. For many, coffee is not just a beverage, but a ritual, a trusted friend and a part of life. I get it!
But, coffee also has a dark side beyond its roast. As you read in my recent post Is Coffee Harming Your Health? some of coffee’s ill effects include raised cortisol levels, anxiety, fatigue, irritability and food cravings.
You may be thinking, “I’m going to be very irritable quitting coffee!” and that may be true for some of you or for a few days, but just as your body became dependent on coffee over time, it can become independent of it too!
Everyone likes their coffee different and everyone is different when it comes to quitting coffee. While cold-turkey may appeal to some, a gradual weaning will be the best approach for others. Check out my suggestions and, most importantly, choose the one (or more!) that you believe will work best for you!
Give UP Coffee Cold Turkey
Cold turkey is the abrupt and complete cessation of something you’re addicted to. Going cold turkey with coffee will work well for some and its big benefit is that it’s fast! The negative to cold turkey is that you could experience strong caffeine withdrawal symptoms (like a headache, irritability, and sleepiness).
The positive is that these symptoms will go away!
Withdrawal symptoms usually peak between 20 and 48 hours. The worst side effects should generally be over within two days to a week. If you take this approach its essential to stay hydrated and drink lots of water during the withdrawal.
GIVE UP COFFEE Warm TURKEY
Warm turkey is a term I made up for the approach of gradually weaning yourself off coffee. The positive of going warm turkey is that you will bypass the extreme caffeine withdrawal symptoms that can come with the cold turkey approach.
The negative of warm turkey is that it will be a slower weaning process and there could be more temptation to throw in the towel.
To wean yourself, gradually reduce the amount of coffee you drink in a day. For example, if you drink two cups a day start by dropping down to one cup a day or two half cups. Or, switch one of your cups a day to decaf.
You can also make it more challenging and time-consuming to brew coffee at home by replacing your easy-peasy Keurig, for example, with a more labor-intensive French press or Pour-Over Coffee Filter. This approach may help you cut out more coffee each day because you don’t have the time or desire to brew it.
Replace the Ritual
One of coffee’s most seductive draws is that for many people it’s a ritual. Think about the daily cups of coffee you drink and where and why you drink them.
Is that first cup of coffee at your desk really because you love the taste of coffee beans or is it because it’s a relaxing habit you’ve grown accustomed to in order to start your day?
Do you really need to sip coffee or do you just need to sip some solitude?
You may also consider making matcha green tea with true matcha powder instead of tea bags. This involves using a bamboo whisk and small bowl to prepare the tea. It is a lovely process if you are looking for something to fill the ritual you are missing.
There are also some very popular and delicious naturally caffeine free herbal coffees (typically made from roasted roots of dandelion, chicory, and beets) such as those made by Teeccino and Dandy Blend.
You may also try creating your own herbal coffee blends. This book has some great recipes.
A Holistic Approach
Just as caffeine can affect every part of your body, for some people quitting the drug takes all all-body approach. Some excellent physical activities to help you quit coffee are walking, running, yoga, Tabata training (a high-intensity interval training workout) or any other physical activity that you enjoy.
In closing, I hope that through these suggestions you were able to find your beginning to ending your relationship with coffee.
Remember, there is no one-cup-fits-all solution to quitting coffee and the most important advice is to be gentle and kind to yourself.
If the first approach you try doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up – try something else. With time and patience, you absolutely can overcome your dependence on coffee and lead a healthier, decaffeinated life.
Want to make your own herbal coffee?
If you'd like to make your own herbal coffee, I'd recommend checking out the book: DIY Herbal Coffee Substitutes: A Complete Guide to Making Delicious Herbal Coffees to Support Healing and Stress Relief