Healthy eating Nutrition By Jim Dillan / May 5, 2013 There’s no denying the popularity of coffee, with over 180 million regular drinkers in the USA and a Starbucks on every corner. That said, many people are finding that drinking coffee negatively affects their digestive system and makes it difficult to relax. So what do you do if you’d like to replace coffee, but find it difficult to deal with the side effects of caffeine withdrawal? This page has a 3 step plan to substitute coffee with a similar tasting but much healthier alternative. It also has a simple way to minimize caffeine withdrawal headaches and other symptoms of giving up coffee. Step 1 – Understanding and Motivation It’s important to understand that coffee fits the definition of a drug. That it’s a legal drug doesn’t really matter if you find it is having a negative effects on you. If you choose to stop drinking coffee for a while but find you can’t go more than a day or two without going back to it, then it will be helpful to admit that you probably have an addiction that you might want to get control of again. It’s possible to deal with this addiction with some simple changes by following the next two steps, but understanding where you are starting from is an important first step. You may choose, after being coffee free for a fortnight, to have it again occasionally without experiencing the digestive problems and adrenal fatigue associated with heavy daily consumption. But until you can prove to yourself that you can go without drinking coffee for two weeks, it’s fair to say you’re still addicted to America’s favorite drug. If you haven’t read the previous page on seven health problems with coffee, now would be a good time for some extra motivation. Once you have, get what you need in the next two steps and plan a date to get started. The weekend can be particularly good as you have two days to ease into it without any distractions at work. But that said, as soon as your coffee replacement and adrenal support arrives and you are motivated to have a choice again, it’s just as good a time as any to begin. Step 2 – Minimize Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms Caffeine is an addictive substance that many people associate with increased energy. Over time we often find ourselves having more and more of it and at some point, for many people, caffeine’s effect becomes more tension and anxiety than simply increased energy. The energy/anxiety provoking actions of caffeine are due to the effect it has on your adrenal glands. The adrenals are small triangular shaped organs that sit on top of your kidneys and secrete many important hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. Heavy coffee consumption can exhaust these glands and it is these that you’ll need to support to minimize caffeine withdrawal symptoms. The adaptogenic herb Ashwagandha is particularly good at providing adrenal support and helping to restore them to a healthy state. Ashwagandha is sometimes called Indian ginseng and is a popular herbal treatment in Ayurvedic medicine. It helps to balance your body’s physiological processes, including adrenal gland function, and is believed to enhance both physical and mental well-being. It also has a bit of a reputation as an aphrodisiac, but that’s perhaps better covered in another article. An Ayurvedic practitioner should be consulted for long-term use of this powerful herb. It’s probably best used as an occasional supplement in times of stress, for which replacing coffee may well qualify if you’ve been a heavy drinker. Ashwagandha tinctures like this tend to be both stronger and faster acting than capsules. They are good for preventing caffeine withdrawal headaches, brain fog and the general lethargy that may be felt in the first day or two of breaking a coffee addiction. If you’re using it for this purpose, it is important to have the tincture at the largest recommended dose first thing in the morning. The ideal time is after a big glass of water (perhaps with fresh lemon juice for its detoxifying effects) and before a shower or breakfast, definitely before you used to have a cup of coffee. Taken early, this adaptogenic herb can provide it’s own kind of stable energy and help to counteract caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Be aware though that it is not recommended if you already have a headache brought on by lack of caffeine. At that point, more water, freshly made juice or an antioxidant rich smoothie would be more beneficial. When you begin replacing coffee it’s good to use the whole bottle up in an ongoing early morning course. For a 4 oz tincture this should take around two weeks. While the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are likely to lessen within a day or two, your long-suffering adrenal glands could use the extra support. Step 3 – Coffee Substitution While caffeine is a big part of why coffee is so addictive, the ritual of having it is also a significant factor. These days I like peppermint and ginger tea and many other different herbal blends, but when I first gave up coffee I was looking for an alternative with a similar taste. Coffee substitute drinks have been around for a while but, according to the reviews, many of the older ones didn’t really cut it for most people. Recently, a new coffee alternative called Teeccino has been produced with a much more similar taste to regular coffee. It is made of carob, chicory root, barley, dates, figs and dandelion with flavors like moca, french roast and many others. Importantly, Teeccino is alkaline rather than acidic like coffee and with it’s natural prebiotics there’s reason to believe it will be beneficial to your digestive system rather than damaging. Most of the ingredients are organic so you avoid the pesticides issues with coffee and the reviews for Teeccino are overwhelmingly positive. While some light coffee drinkers can happily switch over in a day, the easiest way to substitute coffee with Teeccino is with a step-by-step reduction method over a couple of days. [alert color=green align=center] Here’s how to do it: Get a bag of Teeccino in a flavor of your choice. It’s very similar to ground coffee and you make it up in the same way. For the first day you can make up your coffee but only add two thirds as much as normal. Add Teeccino for the remaining third and make it up as you usually would. This first day helps to get you used to the slightly sweeter taste. For the second day, add around half coffee and half Teeccino. Make sure you’ve had your Ashwagandha tincture first thing. On the third day, use just one third coffee and two thirds Teeccino. It’s taste will be more predominant now and is beneficial to really savor the flavor and the great smell of it to help with associating this as your new ritual. By the fourth day, all but the heaviest former coffee drinkers should try making up a Teeccino only ‘coffee’. If you’ve been taking your Ashwagandha first thing in the morning then caffeine withdrawal symptoms should diminishing and it will be easier to start going ‘caffeine-free’. [/alert] Teeccino is similar enough to regular coffee that this is really only a minor adjustment for all the health benefits of giving up coffee and its caffeine. Anyone experiencing difficulty with coming off caffeinated coffee in four days like this could try another one or two days with a small amount of regular coffee. Ideally, you want to go for at least a fortnight after having your last caffeinated coffee to be sure that you’ve broken the caffeine addiction. Once you have, you may decide to have it again occasionally without any ill effects. Or you might just be happier without it and broaden your range from Teeccino to herbal options like peppermint and ginger tea, or some of the more exotic flavors like lemon rooibos or cinnamon chai tea. 3 Extra Tips for Replacing Coffee [alert color=green align=center] Make sure you have Teeccino or whatever other coffee alternative you choose available at work as well as home and it’s easier to reach than the office coffee machine. Teeccino also make a teabag version that is easy to take traveling or for those that do a lot of driving. Try and drink more water than you normally would over the next few weeks. A big glass of water with lemon juice first thing in the morning is particularly good for cleaning out your system and this can only help with getting over a caffeine addiction. The more antioxidant rich meals that you can eat over the time you’re replacing coffee the better your body will be able to deal with any symptoms and the less you’ll feel any cravings for it. Also, by eating good foods more regularly, you have less of the long stretches of time between meals that you may have used to fill up with a caffeine hit. [/alert] Conclusion Giving up coffee doesn’t have to be difficult. With a great tasting coffee substitute and a good supplement to deal with caffeine withdrawal symptoms it can be done with a minimum of fuss. If you feel like both your digestive system and your stress levels could use a break from caffeine, I hope you’ll give this coffee replacement plan to try. When you do, please let me know how it goes. I’d be happy to answer any questions in the comments below and would appreciate hearing about any positive changes that you notice when you substitute coffee with Teecino.