Note: This is not going to be about quitting coffee for the rest of your life. This is about getting to a point where you can enjoy coffee without it controlling you!
I knew I had a problem with coffee when I was chatting with a friend and walking past a Starbucks. The moment the smell of overly-roasted beans came wafting into my nose, it's like the rest of the world shut off.
"...Katheryn? Katheryn?" I looked up and saw my friend trying to get my attention. I hadn't heard a word she had said since the moment I had coffee on my mind, and frankly, I didn't want to keep on chatting with her until I got my fix. I needed to have coffee. Now.
So, we went into Starbucks, got some lattes (iced vanilla latte for me), and after taking a sip I felt like I could finally focus and reconnect with our conversation.
And the thing is, I don't even think my coffee addiction was nearly as bad as I hear from others. I was never the kind of person who would wake up and start the day with a cup of coffee - for me, it was the afternoon pick me up that I was looking for.
I still have coffee occasionally now, but the biggest difference is that it doesn't control me. I can walk past a Starbucks and smell coffee and not feel a craving to have any. And when I say I have it occasionally, it doesn't mean I'm forcing myself to limit my consumption - I just don't really crave it much but might order one if it goes really well with my lunch (especially on a hot summer day!).
So, if you're at the point where you feel like coffee is controlling you - like every cell in your body is tense until you have a sip, and then every cell feels like it's chilling out in a jacuzzi with a glass of champagne - then this is for you!
This article is not about how to shun coffee for the rest of your life - it's about how to get over the addiction. Big difference. Let's continue!
What's the cause?
I see people try to go cold-turkey by cutting coffee out of their lives for the sake of getting over the addiction.
I don't think this is a good idea.
Why? Because cravings are a symptom of something else. Meaning, the need for having coffee stems from another source. What do you think your reason is for wanting coffee so badly?
Now, an obvious answer would be lack of sleep. And the easy answer to alleviating the yearn for coffee if your yearn is coming from a lack of sleep, would be to get more sleep.
Here's a less obvious reason for having cravings: having too many contracting foods. In food energetics, we talk a lot about how some foods have an expansive reaction in our bodies, while others have contracting properties.
For example, if you were to sprinkle salt onto cabbage and let it sit there for a while, what would happen to the cabbage? The cabbage would shrivel up, and the water will come out.
A very similar thing happens to you when you eat a lot of heavy animal proteins or salty foods - your organs can become tight.
And when that happens, on an emotional level, we feel very tense as well. And we start craving something that is going to alleviate this tense feeling. And that's where expansive foods come into play (sugar, caffeine, alochol, etc.).
So, one thing we want to figure out is how to add more calm into your body. When your body is more sensitive and calm, then the need to have an intense jolt of energy is not necessary. If anything, having coffee when you feel amazing might feel overwhelming to you.
So, here are my tips for making this happen:
1) Start by making adjustments to the cups you don't care so much about
Most people feel like they can't survive without their morning coffee and their afternoon coffee. But what about all of those coffees, in between?
You know, the ones you grab in the office kitchen as an excuse to procrastinate from working. Or the one you have when you're meeting up with someone at a cafe and you order it without thought because you take the phrase "let's grab coffee", seriously.
Start asking yourself which cups of coffee really mean a lot to you. And then, leave those be. Let's start focusing on changing the ones that don't matter so much (it'll be way easier!).
2) Experiment with alternative coffees
I'm a huge fan of grain coffee, which is a brown and bitter drink that resembles coffee but doesn't give that horrible energy plunge in after-effect.
Another one you can try is dandelion tea, which is another dark and bitter beverage that some people like to have as a replacement to coffee. Personally, I'm not a fan of this one but the beauty of it is that you might actually really love it. So, give it a try!
3) Eat less heave animal products and salty foods
One thing that's important to focus on is alleviating tension in your body. When you do this, you're less likely to crave foods that will relax you, and coffee is one of them.
So, one thing you can do is to try having less animal products and salty foods. Especially the processed kinds!
4) Start adding in more sweet vegetables and whole grains
Remember I said you want to add more calm into your body? You can do that by adding in more whole grains and sweet vegetables (sweet potato, pumpkin, onions, cabbage, carrots, etc.) into your diet.
The more calm you feel, the less likely you'll crave something that makes you feel keyed up. And these foods do just that!
It'll be harder before it gets easy
One thing I like about this method is that it's not going to impact you as negatively as going cold-turkey, will. Most people who go cold-turkey experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and more intense cravings. But you're less likely to have that since you're transitioning out. Work smarter, not harder!
What about you
What's your biggest fear around overcoming your need for a coffee fix?
Have you tried quitting coffee before?
Leave a comment!