Our Water Challenge nutritionist Shelley McKenzie helps us understand what to expect when we give up caffeine!
Shelley, I am scared. Not so much for me, but for those around me if I don’t get my morning coffee!
For some, the thought of no coffee in their lives can be a scary thought, and that is understandable. Not only does coffee give us a nice energy boost, but for the most part, we have formed habits, routines and even a dependence to coffee which can make it even more challenging to let go of. Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant. Make no mistake this will be no easy feat, but your body will definitely thank you for it.
Why should we take a break from caffeine?
There are many reasons to have a short break (in our case at least 30 days) from caffeine. Here are some signs that it could be time to have a caffeine detox:
- You are no longer feeling the effects of caffeine, for example, it doesn’t give you an energy boost like it used to.
- Your intake has increased by one or more cups a day.
- You feel you can’t get through your day without it.
- You know, or suspect caffeine could be the culprit for health issues.
Okay, so I may fall into one or more of those categories! What can I expect when I give up coffee, or caffeine in general?
It is important to know what you may experience during this process and how to help yourself throughout the initial stages of the withdrawal process. Common caffeine withdrawal symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Flu-like symptoms – nausea, vomiting and muscle pain or stiffness.
Ok then…so now I’m wondering why I agreed to this! Please tell me there are some good things to come?
Yes! There are many great outcomes of going caffeine-free. Let’s start with the cost of your caffeine addiction. It can add up to thousands of dollars a year. Even if you only have the 30 days caffeine-free you will still save. A break from caffeine will also:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Improve your sleep quality
- Increase your energy (after the initial phase)
- Decrease anxiety
- Improve your overall mood
- Increase weight loss due to lessor calories throughout your day
- Your dental health will improve, goodbye coffee stains!
- Headaches will be a thing of the past (particularly after the initial phase)
Things are sound slightly better now. Can you tell me how I can ease the initial withdrawal symptoms?
Your withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere between two – nine days. However, this is dependent on how much caffeine was consumed daily, along with your individual tolerance levels to caffeine. Initially, when eliminating caffeine, you may experience intensity in the symptoms for 25 – 72 hours.
Although this can be an uncomfortable time, there are ways to reduce your chances of experiencing these symptoms.
- I highly recommend starting slow. In the lead up to the Water Challenge, begin to gradually cut down your coffee intake by one or two cups per week, depending on your symptoms.
- Clear your calendar and start the process on a weekend. Everyone is different. While some experience withdrawal symptoms, others experience none. If you do experience symptoms take the opportunity to binge on Netflix’s and relax.
- Getting enough sleep to combat fatigue is essential. Aim for seven to nine hours per night.
- Drink plenty of water during this process to avoid headaches and constipation. Both can be common symptoms.
- Lastly, eat nutrient-dense food. It is important to be fuelling your body with the right food, rather than reaching for sugar to replace the coffee. Eat small regular meals with a balance of proteins, carbohydrates and good fats.
Although for some this may seem like an impossible challenge. I assure you it’s not when done correctly. The benefits of a caffeine detox every six to twelve months are highly recommended for most. The benefits you will experience after the first 24 – 72 hours will be well worth it in the end. Keep your eye on the prize and know that you will improve your health drastically, even if it’s only for a short time!
By Shelley McKenzie.
Nutrition | Naturopath at Freedom Wellness
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