It’s often difficult to think of caffeine as an addiction; after all, we don’t see public service announcements warning us against its negative effects. The truth, however, is that caffeine is just as addictive as are cigarettes and alcohol, even if we don’t realize it right away. Breaking the caffeine addiction can be painful, but you’ll be much better off without large amounts of caffeine in your diet.

Breaking the Caffeine Addiction: Identify the Source

Caffeine can be found in many different foods and drinks, so eliminating it entirely from your diet isn’t always feasible. Coffee, sodas, tea, chocolate and energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, and we usually think we are addicted to the substance rather than its ingredients. But even though you might have a morning coffee ritual, it is the caffeine that has you hooked. Identify the foods and drinks in your diet that provide you with caffeine to know how to eliminate it.

Breaking the Caffeine Addiction: Cut Back Slowly

I would never advise anyone to give up caffeine cold turkey because you’ll experience nasty side effects. Headaches, chills, nausea, fatigue and insomnia are just a few of the standard caffeine withdrawal symptoms. I wouldn’t recommend putting yourself through that – especially if you have to go to work every day – because it isn’t necessary. A gradual breaking of the habit is much more effective and not nearly as painful.

Breaking the Caffeine Addiction: Record Your Progress

Often, it is difficult to know whether or not you are cutting back. For example, if you find that you get up from your desk several times a day to pour another cup of coffee, it’s doubtful that you know just how much you consume. So start a caffeine journal. Keep it in your desk, by your bed or on the refrigerator and write down every time you ingest something with caffeine. That way you can monitor your progress and know when you’ve had enough for the day.

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Breaking the Caffeine Addiction: Spread it Out

Even when you’re cutting back slowly, don’t take all of your caffeine in the morning because you’ll be suffering withdrawal by the end of the day. If you’re a coffee drinker, separate each cup of coffee with a bottle of water before you can have your next cup. The next week, allow yourself a cup of coffee only after you’ve had two bottles of water, and continue from there. That way your caffeine consumption is spread out evenly through the day.

Breaking the Caffeine Addiction: Fool Your Body

This works for some people, while it doesn’t work for others. Have your spouse or another family member purchase two types of coffee or coke or whatever your favorite caffeinated beverage. One should have caffeine while the other should not. Alternate your consumption between the two containers, and your body might not realize that it isn’t getting caffeine every time if your mind doesn’t recognize it, either.