I’ve been an avid coffee drinker since a frighteningly young age. It’s not really my fault, though — Grandma would whip up pancakes while Grandpa brewed a pot of coffee, always saving me a cup. I’d drink my coffee while watching Dragon Tales as regularly as my dad drank his while reading the morning paper before work.
Naturally, this carried over into middle school and high school. It got to the point where I needed coffee to start my day, or else I’d be fighting to stay awake by second period. If I was running late and didn’t have time to make or buy coffee before school, I knew I would get headaches or have trouble maintaining any energy later on.
So, I told myself that in college I’d develop more control over my coffee-drinking habits — and I’m happy to say that it’s been working. If you’ve noticed your coffee consumption is a little over the top, then these tips should be able to help you make a smooth transition into healthier drinking habits.
1. Get rid of the Keurig.
It sounds painful, I know. But the “out of sight, out of mind” tactic is super effective in this case (bonus reason to stop using those K-cups: they’re not good for the environment). Without a coffee maker constantly at your fingertips, you won’t get those cravings that are spurred by just looking at the machine.
2. Eat breakfast instead.
If you’re someone who replaces breakfast with coffee as a morning pick-me-up, try switching to solid food to start your day. It may seem like all you need is that burst of caffeine to give you energy after you wake up, but don’t underestimate the power of a nutrient-rich breakfast — a banana with a spoonful of peanut butter is my personal favorite.
3. Limit your coffee budget.
When we’re hooked, we essentially give Starbucks (or Dunkin Donuts, my personal favorite) control of our wallets. A coffee order can range anywhere from $2 — $6, depending on how you prefer to embellish your drink. This Huffington Post article shows the damage it can do to your bank account. If the money you spend on coffee is reason enough for you to change your habits, then try setting a limit on how much you spend per week.
4. Drink tea.
Tea is loaded with antioxidants and you can you can use it as an energizer or as a way to wind down. I never thought that tea could be a good substitute for coffee because I viewed them as opposites, but after drinking it repeatedly, I realized how versatile, customizable, and soothing it is.
5. Switch up your drinking habits.
If you find yourself drinking coffee at the same time every day, you might be more prone to the nasty headaches that come along with caffeine withdrawal when you don’t drink it at all. But if you start by switching up the time of day you choose to grab a cup of coffee, it’s a great step towards starting to drink less because it helps you get away from a routine.
6. Drink more water.
The whole “8 cups per day” thing usually doesn’t happen, but we still tend to forget about how important it is to make sure we’re drinking enough water. Instead of carrying your thermos or coffee cup around with you, grab a water bottle instead. It’s better to buy a reusable bottle so that you can refill it instead of tossing it out when you’re done.
7. Stick it out.
It’s definitely tempting to cave into a sudden coffee craving when you start trying to break the habit. You might find yourself getting very tired at first, and this is expected — so, if you feel exhausted during the day, allow yourself to take a nap or just take it easy for a little while. Don’t give up.
This isn’t meant to discourage you from ever drinking coffee — sometimes it’ll just smell too damn good to pass up, or you’ll want to plan a coffee date with a friend to catch up. And once you’ve achieved a reasonable coffee consumption pattern that you feel is more manageable, feel free to indulge in those great treats. You don’t have to be anti-coffee to be pro-self-control.