Last week, I wrote about quitting coffee and how it improved my energy, productivity and mood. This week, I want to talk about coffee alternatives.
First, a word about excess caffeine. Watching your caffeine intake is great for several reasons. Here are some of them:
Caffeine and your looks
Caffeine is not a beauty supplement.
It is dehydrating and has been linked to both weight-loss and weight-gain, although I think the argument for weight-gain (especially when it comes to prolonged use) is stronger.
After all, it affects cortisol, the stress hormone.
And due to its effect on hormones, caffeine is linked with blemished skin and breakouts. I’ve noticed a distinct improvement in my skin since quitting coffee.
Caffeine and your natural rhythms
Caffeine can interfere with your body clock.
If coffee throws off your groove, you may find it difficult to wake up in the morning and get to sleep at night. And you may need a nap to get you through the afternoon.
Limit your caffeine intake to the morning to help with this – and don’t drink coffee or tea first thing, either.
Studies suggest that the best time to drink coffee is mid-morning, around 10am to 12pm, when our cortisol levels naturally dip.
Caffeine and fatigue
Coffee can cause adrenal fatigue – aka exhaustion.
Stimulants such as caffeine cause the body to release cortisol and adrenaline, putting us into fight-or-flight mode.
A naturopath and a macrobiotic practitioner have told me that the dark circles under my eyes are due to toxins like caffeine and alcohol taxing my system.
And, while occasional cups of tea or coffee should be fine for most people, too much can leave you unable to cope with stress, which – let’s face it – is part of life.
Coffee alternatives for health
While there are many reasons to avoid coffee, especially in excess, quitting it altogether can be tricky.
With that in mind, it’s wise to replace your morning brew with something healthier, so that you can increase energy and health without feeling deprived.
My favourite coffee alternatives
Smoothies with spinach or other greens
If you’ve never tried this in the morning, I highly recommend it.
Combine chilled almond milk, organic spinach and fresh or frozen berries in your blender for a delicious morning drink. I like to add pea protein powder, maca, spirulina and a teaspoon of coconut oil. I don’t even taste the greens.
Berries are low in fruit sugars, which is great because spiking your blood sugar early on is a bad move – you’ll lose energy quickly and start feeling hungry, which will likely lead to poor food choices for the rest of the day.
Turmeric lattes with a pinch of black pepper
Sure, it’s weird. But try it anyway. I promise, it’s delicious.
Turmeric is a bona fide superfood with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It could help prevent cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s, heart disease, chronic inflammation and arthritis.
Black pepper helps the body to absorb curcumin, the compound behind turmeric’s amazing health benefits. Ginger is also thought to help us absorb more of turmeric’s good stuff in the digestive system.
I like fresh turmeric in smoothies and curries. And I love Lucy Bee’s turmeric latte recipe for a warming drink that doesn’t leave me feeling coffee-deprived.
Hot chocolate made with raw cacao powder
Chocolate and cocoa powder do contain caffeine, but not very much. Great news for chocolate lovers everywhere!
I love Lucy Bee’s Organic Fairtrade Cacao in warm almond milk with a teaspoon each of coconut oil and maple syrup. I try not to overheat the milk because I don’t want to destroy the benefits of this raw powder.
The trick is to whizz the mixture up in a blender before drinking to make sure that it’s frothy and properly combined. Try it without sweetener if you’re missing coffee’s bitter kick.
And for a more indulgent treat, why not make Chocolat – spiced hot chocolate inspired by the book/movie of the same name?
You will simply need to simmer one split vanilla bean, one cinnamon stick and a scored red chilli in the milk of your choice before adding best quality dark chocolate. Stir until melted and enjoy.
What are your favourite coffee alternatives? Let me know in the comments below.