You know you’re addicted to caffeine if it’s the first thing you think about when you wake up. You could be someone who loves their coffee, powers through their day with energy drinks, orders a side of soda with every meal, or pops pills regularly. And, as much as we’d like to get on the “chocolate is a vegetable” bandwagon, it is loaded with caffeine as well.
Unfortunately, your caffeine habit might be the bane of your health. So, before we move on to talking about all the things that you could switch your cup of caffeine with, let’s find out how it affects your health.
Adverse Effects Of Caffeine On Your Body
Caffeine acts as a mild stimulant. It increases your heart rate and metabolism. It also stimulates the central nervous system and boosts your energy levels. Hence, it is the perfect “wake up call” for most of us.
The downside of caffeine, however, is that it can leave you feeling agitated and can disrupt your ability to concentrate over time. It also interferes with the way your body absorbs vitamins and minerals. To make things worse, it causes palpitations, headaches, insomnia, and stomach aches. Regular caffeine intake also causes your body to lose fluid and makes you feel anxious.1 2
Given the health conditions that caffeine brings with it, it might be a good idea to try and switch to healthier alternatives instead. We’ve found a few that can help you do just that.
Simple Swaps To Kick Your Caffeine Habit
1. Herbal Teas Instead Of The Morning Cuppa
We don’t expect you to give up your morning cup of coffee overnight. But, you could switch it up for a cup of green tea, which has far less caffeine and comes with antioxidants that can boost your immunity.
Letting go of your morning cuppa can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, muscle cramps, and fatigue. So, make the transition easier for yourself. Start off by substituting just one cup of your daily coffee intake with herbal tea . Increase the number of substitutions gradually, based on how well you can tolerate the symptoms.
But, if you’re not a fan of green tea, there’s a lot of other options out their for you. You could try peppermint or chamomile tea which are calming, relaxing, and induce sleep. There’s also ginger tea that aids digestion, improves circulation, and is believed to reduce headaches. You could also opt for lemon or nettle tea which support liver function. The best part? Herbal teas could help fight insomnia that caffeine intake brings with it.3
2. Smoothies Instead Of “Break Time” Coffee
Do you tend to reach for a cup of coffee on your breaks? Try adding fruit smoothies or a protein shake to your cup instead. They are healthy, tasty, and can keep you satiated for a long time, hence killing the urge to drink more caffeine.
Protein powders and fruits also have a simple sugar called fructose which releases energy slowly, helping you avoid the infamous “crash” that coffee brings with it. However, be sure to make your own smoothies since commercial options often contain undesired additives and preservatives.
There are a lot of benefits that come with this particular switch. Smoothies made with bananas, almond milk, and ground flax seed or psyllium husk bloating can beat bloating, which is a common side effect of caffeine intake. The fiber in them also helps you lose weight effectively. Protein shakes, meanwhile, stabilize your blood sugar. If you’d like to lower your blood sugar and cut down on your sugar intake, add vegetables to your smoothies instead.4
3. Milk With Carob Powder Instead Of Hot Chocolate
Who doesn’t love hot chocolate? It’s the perfect dessert drink and makes for a great winter and rainy season indulgence. Unfortunately cacao pods which are used to make chocolate contain caffeine. And when combined with sugar, a cup of hot chocolate can really topple you off the health ladder. This is especially because most instant drink powers and chocolates come with added sugar and artificial sweeteners, doing no favors to your health.
Fortunately, you can switch to carob, a caffeine-free substitute of chocolate that’s just as good as the real deal. It is known to improve digestion, treat diarrhea, and act as a laxative. It might also lower cholesterol, prevent lung cancer, treat anemia, and relieve the symptoms of flu. Lastly, it’s high in phosphorous and calcium.
Carob powder is often used as a sweetener and a hypoallergenic alternative to cocoa. Combine this with milk and a natural sweetener like date syrup or stevia, and you’ve got a drink that can easily replace a cup of hot chocolate.
If you continue to have symptoms associated with caffeine like bloating, despite switching to carob, you might be lactose intolerant.5 Try adding carob to plant based milks like oat milk, rice milk, and almond milk instead for a chocolaty fix.6
4. Nuts Instead Of Chocolate
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, chocolate can be difficult to stay away from. But, with nuts, you can make the transition easier for yourself. Instead of a bar of chocolate, snack on energy bars made with an assortment of nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews. If you’re making your own at home, sweeten your bars with dates. Nuts can give you a boost of energy and are heart-healthy.
In desserts, replace chocolate chips with chopped peanuts and switch chocolate spread with nut butters. Lastly, opt for cakes made with carob powder for caffeine-free indulgence.7
5. Coconut Water Instead Of Energy Drinks
Energy drinks and sodas are packed with caffeine and added sugar. Do your health a favor and switch to natural drinks like coconut water instead. In its purest form, coconut water is preservative free and is low in calories and sugar. It also has naturally occurring electrolytes such as potassium which combats dehydration.
However, despite coconut water being a low-calorie drink, too much of it might be harmful especially if you’re suffering from diabetes and need to watch your sugar and potassium intake. Furthermore, too much coconut water is linked to weakness, lightheadednes, and low blood pressure. So, do check with a medical practitioner before switching to coconut water.8 9
Giving up caffeine and switching to healthier alternatives instead might seem difficult at first. But, by making this change gradually and being conscious of your choices, you can kick your caffeine habit to the curb.
|↑1||Scott, Celicia. “Caffeine: Energy Drinks, Coffee, Soda, & Pills.” Simon and Schuster, 2014.|
|↑2||Murphy, Judy May. “Sleeping Your Way To Success: How You Can Use Your Sleep Time to Speed You to Ultimate Life Success.” Poolbeg Press Ltd, 2016.|
|↑3||Kirkham, Sara. Lose Weight, Gain Energy, Get Healthy: Teach Yourself. Hachette UK, 2010.|
|↑4||Chow, Cheryl, and James Chow, eds. Hypoglycemia for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.|
|↑5||Lactose intolerance. Victoria State Government.|
|↑6||Nasar‐Abbas, Syed M., Thi‐Huong Vu, Muhammad Kamran Khan, Henry Esbenshade, and Vijay Jayasena. “Carob Kibble: A Bioactive‐Rich Food Ingredient.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 15, no. 1 (2016): 63-72.|
|↑7||Geary, Amanda. The food and mood handbook. ebookpartnership. com, 2001.|
|↑8||Chutkan, Robynne M.D. “Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage.” Penguin, 2013.|
|↑9||Hakimian, Justin, Seth H. Goldbarg, Chong H. Park, and Todd C. Kerwin. “Death by coconut.” Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology 7, no. 1 (2014): 180-181.|