I have a long history of over-indulging on caffeine, starting in college. This past year I successfully reigned in my caffeine habit. I thought I would share a bit about how I went from over-indulging to just right in case any of you are thinking about cutting back too.
To give you an idea of what I mean by over-indulging... I would start each day with a cup of coffee while I get ready, a travel mug of coffee during the commute, a grande in a venti cup of coffee (ends up being nearly a venti with room for cream) around 10am, then a switch to Dt Coke at noon with around 3-4 cans during the rest of the work day, maybe have an afternoon coffee, and probably 2-3 glasses of Dt Coke in the evening... So yeah, can we say caffeine junkie! No wonder I felt burned out all of the time. As I am getting older, I am trying to make sure that I am taking care of myself with healthy habits. Being a caffeine junkie is not a healthy habit!
To be honest I didn't set out to minimize my caffeine intact, my first goal was to eliminate diet soda. I live my life with a strong belief in the "in moderation" when it comes to diet but I my diet soda intake was excessive. It was essentially replacing water so that can't be good.
I puffy heart coffee. Not mochas or lattes but good old drip coffee with a touch of sugar and a dash of half and half. I am adament about not completely cutting coffee. But too much is too much. And if I can be a coffee snob for a moment, Sbux is not a fantastic coffee. It is convenient (across the street from my office). It is also too bitter and burnt for my preference so I would add a lot of sugar and half and half. If I am drinking a higher quality coffee (like Intelligentsia or Metropolis) then I use a fraction of the sweeteners. My goal was to cut back to 2 cups of coffee a day, 1 while I get ready and 1 travel mug. Then I am keeping to higher quality stuff (thus a huge decrease in my daily sugar intake) and also adding one less paper cup to the garbage each day. It seems like if you want to find a health benefit or risk for anything you can find one. I like this article, as there have been some benefits found for drinking a moderate amount of coffee but they reinforce that it moderation is key as any negative risk come from excessive drinking. So for me, 1-2 cups is a-okay!
Ok, so how did I eliminate diet soda, cut back my coffee, and start drinking a significantly higher amount of water? Through a series of steps that included eliminating and replacing:
- Stop buying it! If diet soda is in the house I will drink it. So cut the supply!
- Then I cut back to only having one soda at work with my lunch. And forced myself to drink water the rest of the afternoon.
- Find a replacement... I need flavor and water can be so boring. So I would keep something like Crystal Light in the fridge.
- Bring a large cup and a slice of lemon to work. The flavor from the lemon slices is a huge help for me. Having a larger cup at my desk equals less trips + drinking more water + less waste from the plastic ones at my office. This sounds like a small thing but it made a big difference.
- Keep the high quality coffee at home. If I start my day drinking the good stuff, the stuff from that shop across the street taste even more burnt and bitter... Thus much less appealing.
- Keep a pitcher of water with lemon slices in the fridge. Yum! Water that is super cold and has been fully infused with lemon is seriously good stuff. When I started doing this I cut out the Crystal Light. Sometimes I will add lime slices.
I have roughly cut 75% of my caffeine and completely cut out diet soda. I don't even think about drinking a diet soda anymore; the few times I did sneak one in at work it was less appealing as I remembered. And that lemon with water stuff- it is simple yes but a very effective replacement. I am now drinking 100 times more water. And I feel great.
Now a days, if I feel sluggish it is because I stayed up way to late where as before I felt sluggish almost daily. I feel so much better. I have found the right balance of caffeine intake for me. Everyone is different of course but I hope that if you are trying to cut back that this post will be in some way helpful. A cold turkey cut will work for some, for me it was a series of steps to eliminate and replace.
Has anyone else been working toward a healthy balance with caffeine? Would love to hear what other tricks/approaches have been working well.