Thursday, September 27, 2012

Curb Caffeine Addictions And Still Enjoy Your Coffee

With the official start of fall, and as winter draws near, I find myself drinking more coffee throughout the day to stay warm and keep myself awake. But even though coffee can be a great pick-me-up, it’s important not to get addicted. If you’re like me and have already started to feel your body tolerating caffeine more and more, now is a good time to kick that caffeine addiction before that bitter cold comes and makes you grab another cup.

Think about your total caffeine intake - not just coffee. Do you drink soda often? Do you consistently take a painkiller with caffeine? Can you still feel the effects of a cup of coffee, or can you drink a cup and go to bed with no problems? If you feel like caffeine is becoming too much of a crutch, it might be time to consider ways to cut back on your intake, while still being able to enjoy your morning cup of coffee. If you’ve ever researched the effects and health benefits of caffeine, you know there’s a huge range of information, and the topic is still up for debate. But I’m a big believer that moderation is key to balanced health and happiness. A professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at John Hopkins explained how caffeine is the world’s most commonly used stimulant, and when people don’t get their usual dose, they can suffer a range of withdraw symptoms including headache, fatigue, and they may have difficulty concentrating. He went on to describe that it may feel like they have “the flu with nausea and muscle pain.” Yikes.

But there are several ways to help you overcome a dependence on caffeine, without experiencing as many of the withdrawal symptoms:
•Try sticking to caffeinated beverages you love and substitute the others with decaffeinated options. Staying hydrated is a key to keeping the body healthy.
•Chose beverages with lower caffeine content such as teas. Black tea has the highest caffeine content, following with green, white, and herbal teas. Beware, though! Some herbal teas do have caffeine in them, depending on what herbs go into them. Research the caffeine content beforehand.
•Still want that coffee taste? Try a shot of espresso or an Americano (espresso and hot water). These options actually have less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee.
•It’s all in the timing: John Hopkins Medical Center found that symptoms generally appear within 12 to 24 hours of stopping routine caffeine use, and they peak within 20 to 48 hours. Effects can persist for two days to an entire week.
•Substituting exercise with that extra caffeine jolt has also been a common way to conquer withdrawal symptoms. Exercise unleashes endorphins, which helps curb headaches.

Remember that like all kinds of habits and addictions, change comes with time. Don’t go all out and cut out caffeine completely if you’re used to a drinking coffee throughout the day. It’s probably not going to work and you’ll feel the effects. If you start now, maybe you’ll be able to kick your addiction and still enjoy the chilly months ahead.

  Article by Paige Taylor

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