Kicking Caffeine Addiction

Waking up to the pleasant aroma of coffee brewing in the kitchen is often the incentive we need to get out of bed and get our day started. We humans love our coffee, but sometimes we love it too much! Coffee contains caffeine, an affordable, easily available, and socially acceptable stimulant drug. But like any drug, an overindulgence in caffeine can lead to addiction.

Research has shown that 2 or 3 cups of caffeinated coffee per day may actually benefit our health. Coffee contains antioxidants which decrease our risk of colon cancer, Parkinsons' disease and diabetes, but excessive caffeine intake can affect our central nervous system, causing us to be jittery, tense, and short-tempered, and disrupt our sleep at night. Coffee also stains our teeth, giving us a yellow smile, and can cause heartburn and indigestion in some individuals, especially pregnant women.

Like most addictive drugs, caffeine pulls you into its clutches gradually. No one begins their coffee-drinking habit with six or ten cups a day! It may just be a cup to wake you up in the morning, and one for an afternoon pick-me-up; before long you're slipping in an extra cup here and there, maybe stopping at Starbucks more often, and your body begins to crave caffeine.

You might decide that it's time to break that caffeine addiction, and it doesn't have to be hard. Don't go cold turkey, and give coffee up all at once, unless you are willing to deal with caffeine withdrawal symptoms: headache, nausea, possibly vomiting and diarrhea. You'll feel anxious and fatigued, also. Try weaning yourself off caffeine gradually with one of these methods:

Tea/Herbal Tea

Tea contains caffeine, but not as much as coffee. First, try switching to a high-quality tea. Simply replace each cup of coffee you drink with a cup of tea. This will lower your caffeine intake somewhat so you don't have sudden withdrawal symptoms. Work toward switching from regular tea to a caffeine-free herbal tea. There are so many varieties that with a little experimenting you are sure to find one you find palatable.

Grain Coffee

This isn't really coffee, but a ground blend of grains, nuts, dried fruits, and other natural flavors. Again, try different varieties to find one you like. Grain coffee can be brewed in your drip pot just like regular coffee. Begin your caffeine detox by mixing the grain coffee blend with real coffee, starting with a ratio of one part grain coffee to three parts real coffee. Each week, increase the amount of grain coffee while decreasing the amount of real coffee in the mix.

Decaffeinated Coffee

If you just love the taste of coffee, and don't care for tea, switching to decaf is an option. Remember to make the switch gradually. Replace a few of your daily cups of caffeinated coffee with decaf, or you could mix the grounds half-and-half to decrease the amount of caffeine in each cup. Buy a naturally-decaffeinated brand; many coffee brands are decaffeinated with toxic and possibly carcinogenic chemicals. Keep in mind that decaf coffee still contains acids that contribute to heartburn and indigestion, and will still yellow your teeth.

Don't have guilt trip over enjoying 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day, but if you are drinking an excess amount, work toward the goal of reducing your caffeine intake. Caffeine does have health benefits, and isn't believed to cause any major health problems, but how can you enjoy your good health when you're nervous and cranky all the time?

author: J. E. Davidson

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