Caffeine is without a doubt one of the most used and abused drugs on our planet. Obviously this issue may seem unimportant, because caffeine is so widely accepted in our fast paced society. More than one person has asked me about ways to naturally avoid a caffeine habit; shout out to my lovely colleagues Emma and Ja’Tovia, for reminding me to address this very important issue. FYI, caffeine is a DRUG, and a member of the class of methylxanthine chemicals. Unlike alcohol, which depresses the nervous system, caffeine stimulates it and increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, kidney function, amount of stomach acid, gastrointenstinal function (can act as a laxative), and brain activity. Overconsumption or even just regular ongoing consumption of caffeine can lead to heart problems, anxiety, inflammation in the stomach and intestines, irritability, and insomnia. Caffeine also depletes minerals in your body and blocks proper absorption of essential nutrients like calcium and iron which can later lead to osteoporosis, anemia etc. Beyond that if you over consume caffeine it can lead to birth defects, miscarriages, adrenal exhaustion and more.
Ok, so I’m sure after that long list of side effects you may be thinking about breaking up with your longterm fling, mr. coffee. I know he made you feel great, but the relationship obviously comes with some annoying and possibly life threatening side effects. So, why don’t I give you some tips on some other tall dark and handsome drinks you can date to find a suitable alternative. I promise you’ll find the one you are looking for somewhere in these recommendations, and you’ll be ready to make that breakup official.
If you are a die hard coffee drinker, it may be good to try herbal coffee drinks that give you the taste without the caffeine and supplement with things like spirulina to give yourself a natural energy boost. At the end of the day, none of us can neglect one of the most important functions to boost and regenerate our bodies, sleep. If you are sleep deprived and coasting on coffee to keep you going, it is going to have effects on your concentration, mood, and ability to loose weight. I run only on natural energy, and although nowadays people think I’m strange, it’s the best way to go because I can actually feel when I am tired and in need of serious rest. Rather than joining the slew of walking zombies drugged up on caffeine to “feel awake” I highly suggest you experience what it truly means to be energized by cutting out caffeine and (Gasp!) getting enough rest. Yeah, I said it. -XoXo Raw Girl
Spirulina is usually the first thing I recommend as a way to boost energy and replace caffeine. Just last week in the grocery store, for whatever reason an older woman asked me where the coffee beans were. I let her know that I don’t drink coffee, because I do not need to, and after a short conversation with me, she gave up on the coffee beans and headed instead to the supplement isle to pick up some spirulina. Adding spirulina to your juice or smoothie in the morning is not only going to boost your energy, it will also boost your immune system and give you a whopping dose of nutrients to keep you functioning optimal throughout the day. This is great for mothers who are always on-the-go and you can feed it to your kids too, and they will be less susceptible to catching common colds and other sicknesses at school. Remember that spirulina is potent so start with a teaspoon and work up the amount as you get used to it.
Herbal Coffee is a way to get the flavor of coffee without adding additional caffeine to your diet. These blends include herbs, nuts, etc. and so may give you a nutritional boost without spiking your energy. Of course you will have to experiment and find the brand that suits your taste buds the most. I discovered several brands online that sounded pretty good and come in a variety of flavors like Roastaroma, Pero, and Teeccino. Teeccino herbal coffee and other brands can usually be found in most health food stores and consists of ingredients like carob, barley, chicory root, dates, figs, roman seeds, almonds, and dandelion root.
Carob / Cacao Substitutes are interesting ways to get a dark beverage with some coffee-like qualities without going straight for the coffee beans. Carob actually has a deeper richness and depth of flavor and does contain vitamins and minerals along with the taste. You can try mixing carob powder hot water, non-dairy milk (like almond) , and sweetner of choice to make your own creamy carob coffee substitute, and do the same with cacao powder or nibs if hot chocolate gives you enough of a fix. Some people even try mixing cacao and carob together or mixing cacao with other herbal coffees. Great thing about carob: it forms alkaline in the body, while coffee is acidic.
Kombucha is one of my go-to drinks when I am exhausted or just want an energy boost to get through the day. I choose to go for the green kombucha that has spirulina in it, and it energizes me every time. If you can brew Kombucha in your home, more power to you. I’m too lazy, but I have recently found a locally brewed brand I am in love with and have experienced its immediate benefits which include keeping skin clear, cleansing liver, boosting energy, suppressing appetite and more. Sometimes if I have a bottle of kombucha in the morning I am bouncing off the walls and not even hungry until mid afternoon. It amazes me every time.
Yerba Mate is another drink I go to if I am in a bind. I am VERY sensitive to caffeine, so I only drink this is I am really really sleep deprived and have to keep going. It is a tea that comes from South America and contains about half the caffeine of coffee. Keep in mind it still contains caffeine, just less, so if you are weaning yourself off of it completely, try not to get hooked on yerba perpetually.
Rooibos African Teas are my favorite black teas that have a deep dark flavor that is almost coffee-like, and also happen to be caffeine-free. They are sold everywhere from Starbucks to grocery stores, and you can experiment to find a brand you like.
Green Juice & Smoothies are my go-to energy boosters in the morning. I am a big advocate of vegetable juice as the best natural high ever. If your up for something new try starting your day with fresh vegetable juice and see how your energy begins to change. You can also do smoothies in the morning with spirulina fruit and non-dairy milks and get the same effect. Or add in some cacao powder and have an energizing chocolate shake. You may be surprised! After about a week you will probably feel good enough that your break-up with coffee will be official and you may not even have a desire to hook up with coffee ever again. Coffee-who?