My love affair with coffee has been well documented on this blog. And it’s not an overstatement to say I love the stuff. But lately, I’ve been doing a little health inventory, searching for ways that I can eat and live healthier and feel even better. I’m already a pretty clean eater, but my caffeine addiction stood out to me as an area where I could make some changes. My typical coffee consumption, if I’m being totally honest, looks a little like this:
5:30 am: The alarm goes off, I brew a pot of coffee as the oatmeal cooks on the stove. I have a cup with a splash of 2% milk while Joe and I eat breakfast together.
6:45 am: I have another cup (this time black) while I get ready for work, doing my makeup and hair while taking sips of coffee along the way. Usually I only drink half of this cup.
9:00 am: I am at work for a while before I make myself a cup of coffee at work, usually in the Keurig or Nespresso machine, and usually served with a little almond milk or 2% milk, whatever I have on hand.
2:00 pm: This time is hit or miss, but usually I’ll make myself a cup of coffee in the afternoon as a little pick-me-up through my day.
8:00 pm: I make a cup of decaf coffee with a piece of dark chocolate for dessert after dinner while relaxing/watching TV/reading.
Just reading that routine made me a little embarrassed. It means that some days, I can consume upwards of 4 cups of regular coffee and a cup of decaf in a single day. It’s no wonder that I’ve been feeling a little sluggish lately and have had a hard time staying asleep at night! I think my body has been telling me something, and I’ve been ignoring it.
Every now and again I put myself through a coffee detox, cutting out caffeine entirely for a week or two. Every time I cut out the coffee it’s incredibly painful, both physically and emotionally. Yes, I cry and get upset, and feel incredibly crabby. I’m more clumsy than usual and find it hard to focus. I read this article about the perils of caffeine withdrawal and can totally relate.
This time, instead of going cold turkey, I’ve been swapping out coffee for other beverages and allowing myself a cup of coffee or an espresso in the early afternoon, around 2 or 3. It’s amazing how great coffee makes me feel when I limit myself to a single cup. I used to think caffeine had no impact on me, but I think I was just consuming too much to notice.
So what have I been drinking instead? Here’s the breakdown:
This is sort of a no-brainer, but I’ve been keeping my water bottle close by throughout the day. It’s been really easy to drink extra water when I’m not constantly guzzling coffee.
2. Herbal Tea
Now that it’s getting colder outside, I need a little something warm to get me going in the morning. I’ve never been much of a tea person, but I do love a cup of mint tea, especially when accompanied by a little bit of steamed milk and stevia. At Starbucks, I’ve been ordering a Grande Refresh Tea (their version of mint) with a little steamed 2% milk. Around Christmas, they also have sugar-free peppermint syrup, which is my weakness.
3. Fresh Juice
When I’m at home and have time to juice, I have been taking full advantage. We still have plenty of apples from our CSA and it’s also a great way to use up leftover produce. My favorite combination lately has been beets and apples. I just love the color!
4. Hot Water + Fresh Lemon Juice
I’ve read a lot about the benefits of hot water and lemon juice. It seems crazy that such a simple combination could be so good for you, but I’m willing to give it a try. I don’t have this every day, but once in a while it’s a nice way to mix things up.
5. Steamed Almond Milk
We have a milk warmer/frother at home, making it super quick and easy to make hot steamed milk. I’ve been dressing it up with a little cinnamon and stevia or a little bit of local honey to keep things interesting. This is the closest I’ve come to finding something that satisfies me the way coffee does.
I have to admit that I feel SO much better without all the coffee. I’m more hydrated, energetic and appreciative of coffee when I do have my cup in the afternoon. And I have been sleeping much more soundly through the night, which is a welcome perk. Better sleep means I don’t need as much caffeine. Funny how that works!
Do any of you have other suggestions of what to substitute for coffee? Although the ideas above are great, I still find myself missing the rich, earthy flavor of coffee in the morning.