Ah, sweet, sweet coffee.

It wakes you up, gets you out the door in the morning, and is incredibly addicting. Have you ever tried to give it up? I have and it is NOT fun. When you drink coffee, there’s a semi-truck following you around called I WILL HIT YOU just waiting for you to give up coffee, and when you do, BAM it smashes you right in the face. Coffee headaches are up there on the list of DO NOT WANT.

 

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At the beginning of last summer, I came down with the flu and The Universe basically forced me to give up coffee until I recovered. During that time, the coffee truck chased me, hit me, ran me over, backed up, and did it again. I didn’t realize how much I actually relied on coffee until the crippling headaches that followed. I took this unfortunate event as an opportunity to see if I could actually live without it. I’ve tried to give up coffee in the past but it’s hard. I mean, really fucking hard. Like, quitting cigarettes hard (I’ve never smoked but I can only imagine it’s on the same level). And time and time again I failed.

WHY GIVE IT UP?

The number one reason I wanted to attempt to cut my addiction was based solely on the fact that coffee is highly acidic (cold brew coffee is less acidic than the traditional brew, but still acidic). Yes, there are other things in our diets that can also be highly acidic. If giving up coffee sounds like the worst thing ever and you have no desire to do so, you can also reduce acidity by cutting alcohol (mama needs her wine though), eating less processed foods, and reducing your dairy and meat consumption. Coffee reduction, though, is a small step that can make a lasting impact.

There are two main reasons why cutting the acidity in your stomach is beneficial to you: 1. It helps keep good bacteria alive and 2. It helps keep your bones strong. Good bacteria cannot live in an acidic state and in return, bad bacteria thrives. An acidic stomach can also lead to a calcium deficiency from your body’s constant struggle to balance pH. When our bodies become acidic, they look to calcium (the most alkaline mineral in our bodies) to reduce acidity. Since our bodies store the majority of calcium in our bones, calcium is leached from them in turn leading to a potential calcium deficiency. A calcium deficiency can cause our muscles to lose their ability to contract and our bones to become brittle.

So, coffee is acidic. I knew that and it motivated me. What I didn’t realize was that once I was able to get through a few days without it, my anxiety levels would decrease and my energy levels would increase. So many unexpected wins!

HOW?

The second hardest part is getting past the headache. The first hardest part is actually retraining your brain and forming a new habit. Habits are such a bitch, aren’t they? Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. Coffee and I were best of friends at one point.

In the past I’ve attempted to quit coffee via the cold turkey method but I always failed. Giving up coffee was hard enough but giving it up cold turkey was torture. I decided this time I would just attempt to trick my brain. It’s worked before with other things so why not coffee?

There are two habits you are trying to break when giving up coffee. The first habit being the need for a stimulant (caffeine) and the second being an action (sip sip). So what are some ways to trick our brain to overcome both of these?

Our brains see a cue (such as the morning alarm going off) as a time to start a routine (drink coffee) and then we are rewarded (in this case: energy and/or pleasure). Your brain doesn’t know the difference between what you’re doing as long as it’s getting a similar reward.

First, try replacing your morning cup of joe with a caffeinated tea such as yerba mate, matcha, or even a cacao latte (chocolate for breakfast, yes please). Replacing your coffee with a caffeinated tea in the beginning will (1) retrain the stimulant habit (i.e. you’ll still get a little caffeine) and (2) retrain the action habit (i.e. you’ll still be drinking something). The caffeine in tea is usually far less than that in coffee and can be much easier to eventually decrease and taper off of. As far as the “action” habit, if the change of sitting and sipping tea isn’t appealing, try a completely different habit like going for a walk or writing me a love letter.

 

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I, personally, replaced my coffee habit with tea. Some days I drink caffeinated tea, some days I drink decaffeinated tea, and some days I don’t drink anything at all. The upside to tea, aside from it being far less acidic than coffee, is that it has less of a “crash” effect. Don’t get me wrong, I love the taste of coffee, and there are times where I’ll have a little bit as a treat or just for fun (side note: I’m like a monkey on crack when I drink coffee now). What I’m saying is, I don’t need coffee for energy or survival anymore. I get my energy now from sleep and food. Who would’ve thought?!

I’ll leave you with this, imagine waking up in the morning without feeling the need to rely on something to get you through life. You are now a free bird. Fly, motherfucker.