Time to Quit Coffee

By Cheryl Meyers

People who drink lots of coffee (5 cups or more per day) are more likely to get headaches, says a new study in The Journal of Headache and Pain. But going cold turkey can mean mood swings, irritability, and (yes) more headaches. Catherine Ziegler, a San Francisco nutritionist, tells us how to kick the coffee habit successfully.

Reduce intake gradually. Slowly weaning your body lessens symptoms’ severity, says Ziegler; cut consumption by 25 percent every week for a month.
Here’s how: Reduce the number of cups per day; add decaffeinated grounds to your morning blend; or replace coffee with less-caffeinated warm beverages like green or black tea.

Minimize stress. Caffeine raises the stress hormone cortisol, putting your body in fight-or-flight mode, explains Ziegler. Perpetually escalated cortisol exhausts adrenal glands, leaving you more fatigued in the long run. As you quit, give your adrenals a little extra support.
Here’s how: Get eight hours of sleep per night; exercise at moderate intensity five times per week; and take adrenal-supporting supplements like B vitamins, magnesium, and ashwagandha.

Power with protein and fat. Caffeine can raise blood-sugar levels, says Ziegler. While you’re quitting, you’ll have the urge to reach for sugary, carb-rich foods for a quick buzz. Instead, opt for high-quality protein paired with healthy fat for sustained energy.
Here’s how: Eat an apple with almond butter; smoked, wild-caught salmon on a flax cracker with guacamole; or a coconut-milk-and-berry smoothie blended with protein powder.

Caffeine-Free Coffee Alternatives
Adagio Teas | Rooibos Tea | The South African red tea is a great non-espresso mixer for lattes. ($15, 16 oz; adagio.com)
Dandy Blend | Instant Herbal Beverage with Dandelion | This blend dissolves instantly in hot or cold water. Great for when you’re on the go. ($18, 14 oz; dandyblend.com)
Teeccino | Mediterranean Mocha Herbal Coffee | Chicory and carob mimic the flavors of coffee ($9, 11 oz; teeccino.com).
Sweeten with So Delicious Coconut Milk.