This is something my clients talk to me about so regularly…& if I’m honest that’s probably because they know how much I love my coffee!! I so love the smell, the look & the feel of that early morning boost with the froth on top, BUT I do know that it isn’t great for my health, & I know that if I’m not mindful of coffee consumption it can very easily creep up, and actually make me feel pretty wretched. Hence I have become somewhat of an expert on how to cut down!
Some of you may want to cut down your intake, whilst others may want to cut it out altogether. Either way, you all know my belief that KNOWLEDGE IS KEY. If you increase your understanding of what it is that caffeine may be doing to you, you have conscious reasons to try to at least cut down (rather than doing it simply because it’s the “right thing”: human nature is such that this alone rarely works!) I am a huge believer in drinking (or eating) mindfully, so that you become more aware of whether you actually need that coffee/biscuit/chocolate bar…and then believe me, you will be half way there in terms of actually achieving your goals and cutting down.
If you feel you need to make changes to your caffeine habit, you might like to download my FREE Coffee Challenge Guide which will give you some great tips to get started. If however you’re still not quite ready to take the plunge, then do read on for a little further inspiration from my own top reasons to think again…
MY TOP REASONS:
1. The two most basic facts to remember are that caffeine is a stimulant, and it is also addictive. These factors form the basis of just about everything else you’re about to read…
2. Caffeine can cause sleep problems. We all know that drinking caffeine too close to bedtime may stop us from getting off to the land of dreams, but did you know that drinking too much caffeine will also disrupt the general quality of your sleep? Most of us are blissfully unaware of just how large an effect caffeine can have. Did you know that:
“half of the caffeine you take in at 7pm is still in your body at 11pm”
Additionally a recent American study concluded that:
“even caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed reduced total nightly sleep amounts by more than 1 hour”
3. Caffeine can increase anxiety. As caffeine is a stimulant, it can evoke the body’s stress response (a primitive, physiological response to threat, often referred to as being in “fight or flight mode”). This means it may make our body respond as it might to a scary event. This may simply make us feel a little jittery, but for someone predisposed to anxiety the effect may be much worse (heart racing, sweaty palms, ringing in the ears): it may even bring on full blown panic attacks. In short, drinking caffeine regularly & long term will increase rather than decrease stress levels.
4. Caffeine is addictive. I am a firm believer that anything that is addictive holds hidden dangers for many of us – and also holds a silent message: “time to be mindful”. The point here is to stop and think-before-you-drink. Be aware of whether you really need that caffeine kick. (A great way of persuading yourself to start cutting back is to remember that if you do drink it less often, you will feel that ‘kick’ all the more on the occasions you do!)
5. Caffeine intake can adversely affect the digestive system. As caffeine is acidic, drinking a lot of it may damage the lining of the stomach and intestines. It can also work as a laxative (and some people consciously use it as such, but there are FAR more healthy ways to keep on top of those bowel movements!)
6. Caffeine stimulates the heart muscle. Once again, for those in good health this shouldn’t be a problem, but for others it certainly may be. Regardless of heart health though, it is worth stopping and thinking for a moment: why would ANY of us do something regularly that might become detrimental to our heart…?
7. If your daily coffee hit tends to be from one of the many high street chains that offer endless options for extra froth & flavour, then you are very probably consuming a considerable amount of sugar on top of your caffeine fix…
8. If you are used to drinking takeaway bottled coffee, tea, energy drinks or fizzy drinks then you are probably taking in a large amount of preservatives in addition to the caffeine…
9. Caffeine can cause headaches . This is an odd one, because for some it can actually help relieve headaches (hence caffeine is found in various painkillers). The answer then is simply to experiment and see whether headaches are a symptom of caffeine intake for you or not.
10. Caffeine prevents calcium absorption. Again, this is of more concern to those that are already predisposed to osteoporosis or joint problems, but it is still worth all of us noting it for our general health. Calcium is key to building and maintaining healthy teeth and bones, regulating muscle function, ensuring effective blood clotting and enzyme activity. It is involved in transmitting messages through the nervous system, and is needed for healthy heart functioning…so all in all, it’s pretty important!
11. Caffeine is a diuretic so can lead to dehydration (especially if we drink it first thing in the morning, when the body is already dehydrated). If you are grabbing a coffee first thing in the morning it is always advisable to drink a glass of water beforehand.
12. Caffeine intake can have a negative impact on dental health. Coffee and tea both stain teeth – and fizzy drinks and energy drinks contain caffeine, are acidic AND contain added sugar…none of these bode well for your next dental appointment!
13. If a trip to the high street coffee shop is a necessary part of your morning (and/or your afternoon) have you ever stopped to consider the effect on your finances? Just take a moment out to think how much you may be spending weekly on this addiction (and how much you could save by putting that money aside…)
14. The sheer amount of plastic cups and bottles that are produced to supply the endless high street coffee vendors is surely contributing to environmental damage. This one is a personal plea from me: if you do continue to grab a caffeine kick in this form, please, please do so with your own, reusable cup...
SO WHAT IS IT THAT STOPS US FROM SIMPLY GIVING UP?
One of the most common reasons people are reluctant to give up or cut down on caffeine is the apparent lack of energy we suffer without it. We are simply convinced that we NEED that caffeine kick to get us through the day, but is this a real need, or is it more about habit? In actual fact, the more coffee we drink, the less we will feel its effect. Add to that the many side effects listed above and we can see that caffeine is definitely NOT the best way to get that boost, especially not on a regular basis. A fabulous reason to give up caffeine is to prove to yourself how ‘false’ that supposed boost was. After an initial withdrawal period, you will in fact start to feel more energetic WITHOUT the caffeine, and you’ll also enjoy much greater mental clarity.
A FINAL NOTE…& A FREEBIE!
As a last note I have to remind you that caffeine offers no nutritional value whatsoever, AND it may cause the effects listed above…so what more reason do you need to at least cut down a little? Do be aware that if you decide to start cutting down dramatically, you are likely to suffer withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, and tension. If this makes you think twice about reducing intake, simply take a moment to stop and take stock: ALL these symptoms are in fact a result of slowly removing toxins from the body – and that has to be a good thing. Drinking plenty of water & getting moving will help to flush out those toxins. If you’re sensing muscular tension try some gentle mobilisation exercises, and get out in nature & try some deep “belly breathing” in fresh air. If headaches are an issue, try rubbing a little peppermint essential oil on your temples to relieve the pain. Do you notice a common theme in these last few lines? All the suggestions I have given for easing the withdrawal symptoms are entirely natural. Just think: cutting down on caffeine can be excellent motivation to move forward to more positive, healthy habits such as these!
If you are keen to give all this a try but are still feeling hesitant, please do download My Coffee Challenge. It gives you some simple hints and tips to get started on cutting out OR cutting down on caffeine, and will also provide aids to help you to COMMIT: to ensure you really do stick with it to genuinely see results. Go on, why not give it a go!