A lot of clients ask what my morning routine is most days. Would you believe that it doesn’t include coffee? Although I used to be a complete caffeine addict in college (who isn’t?), I decided to kick the habit about a year ago and feel considerably better. I still get all the work I need to get done every day, and I still have energy. Maybe even more energy than I normally would! Today, I’m providing you with a simple, yet healthy alternative to coffee that will give you the energy you need to tackle any workout, conference call, or after school soccer practice. This delicious concoction is also loaded with vitamins and antioxidants to nourish your body and fight free radicals.
The Dark Side of Coffee (Pun Intended)
The science and research towards coffee is pretty mixed. Some studies give coffee a bad rap, while others glorify its high levels of antioxidants and ability to fight chronic illness. I couldn’t nearly begin to tell you about how nuanced this information is and what it personally means to me. At the end of the day, coffee is a personal choice. Let’s take a moment to discuss the pros and cons.
- Coffee is Loaded with Antioxidants (Pro)–From the research I’ve read, coffee is definitely considered a good source of antioxidants. If you follow a typical Western diet, it might be the highest source of antioxidants you consume. Some of these antioxidants can prevent heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
- Coffee Taxes the Adrenal Glands (Con)–While many studies have lately been discussing the benefits of moderate caffeine consumption (i.e. 1-2 cups per day), most hard-core coffee drinkers aren’t drinking a moderate amount of caffeine. Chronic over-consumption of caffeine can take a toll on your adrenal glands, leading to the vicious cycle of caffeine addiction and withdrawal that many of you are familiar with.
- Coffee Can Improve Physical Performance (Pro)–Many athletes I know swear by a cup of black coffee the morning of race day. Caffeine can definitely improve circulation and temporarily give you a boost of energy for your next workout. I have personally experienced this benefit, and when I drank coffee it was usually before hitting the gym for extra intense session.
- Coffee Can Lead to Chronic Dehydration and Fatigue (Con)–I’m sure some of you who are reading this CANNOT start your day without a cup of coffee. I myself used to be one of these people, but realized over time that it’s probably not a good idea to completely depend on something to wake me up in the morning. Chronic coffee over-consumption can also lead to dehydration, fatigue, and even heart arrhythmia in those who go overboard.
Now the question is, should you be drinking coffee? I’ve listed pros AND cons because ultimately, I really think coffee consumption depends on the person. I personally can’t handle coffee and feel a lot better when I don’t drink it. But that doesn’t mean some people can’t reap the benefits from this beverage. The one piece of advice I will suggest is that if you do drink coffee, treat it like a sacred medicine. Have one strongly brewed cup of coffee. Don’t drown it in cream and sweetener. A touch is fine, but feel like your nourishing your body, not just buying yourself another four hour window of energy until your next caffeine fix. Coffee can certainly be part of a healthy and wholesome diet. It’s all about treating your body well and nourishing it with the right ingredients to look and feel your best.
Tips For Living a Coffee-free Life
For those of you who want to kick the habit, where do you start? Here are a few tips I’ve developed to gradually decrease your coffee consumption until your coffee-free!
- Start Gradually–You’re setting yourself up for failure if you cut coffee cold turkey. If you’re the kind of coffee addict that easily consumes 3-5 cups (or more) a day, try cutting back your coffee consumption by one cup per week. It might take you several weeks or months to fully stop drinking coffee, but I guarantee the process will be much smoother and enjoyable. Caffeine withdrawal can be one of the most painful processes for people who are long time addicts. Starting gradually is a much better strategy to kick your coffee habit for good!
- Try Decaf–To speed up your coffee detox, try substituting decaf for some of your coffee. You don’t have to do this all the time. Drink regular coffee, just swap in a few decafs and see how you feel. Decaffeinated coffee still technically does have some caffeine in it, but not nearly as much as traditional coffee.
- Drink Plenty of Fluids Besides Coffee–Are you really addicted to coffee? Or rather, the ritual of coffee? I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about a hot beverage on a cold day that’s always comforting and appealing. Maybe you’re not addicted to coffee per say, but like to have something at your desk to sip on while you work. If that’s the case, there are plenty of alternatives to coffee to keep you hydrated. Instead of boring water, jazz it up with lemon slices or berries. Try sparkling or mineral water. Invest in some herbal teas that are guilt-free and can actually provide medicinal benefits.
If you’re looking for an awesome alternative to coffee, try my hot lemon goji berry water! With tons of vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants, this water helps cleanse the body of toxins and improve digestion. The goji berries can also help wake you up, giving you a much more natural source of energy than a stimulant like caffeine. I drink this water every morning. Literally. Every. Morning. With such a warm and comforting drink, I don’t miss coffee one bit!