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Counting Cups: How to Cut Back on Caffeine

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 7:51 AM

“Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” It’s a common phrase often heard in the morning. Many adults rely on caffeine to wake up and start the day. Caffeine can most often be found in coffee, some teas, pop, energy drinks and cocoa. Caffeine is defined as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system to help increase alertness for an energy or mood boost.

Caffeine Consumption

What happens when you have too much caffeine? Insomnia, nervousness, restlessness or muscle tremors, irritability, upset stomach, and a fast heartbeat are all side effects of too much caffeine. Most adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily without any adverse side effects. It is recommended that adolescents have no more than 100 milligrams and no caffeine for children under the age of 12.

To help control caffeine consumption, Etka Patel, DO, Internal Medicine at NorthShore, suggests these tips for managing the habit:

  • Keep a journal. For a week or so, pay attention to what you eat and how much caffeine is in it. Record it all so it’s easy to look back and see where caffeine is consumed the most.
  • Slowly cut it out. It’s important to do this gradually – cutting out all caffeine at once may potentially cause withdrawal effects. Start with smaller cups of coffee in the morning, one less pop in the day and no caffeine after dinner.
  • Switch to decaf. As you’re slowly cutting out caffeine, consider making some beverages caffeine free. Some drinks –coffee and tea – will taste the same, just without the extra jitters.
  • Check for hidden sources. Read the labels in your over-the-counter pain relievers. Some of those have as much as 130 milligrams of caffeine in one dose.

Those with pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, heart arrhythmias, heart murmurs or type 2 diabetes should limit their caffeine to no more than 200 milligrams daily. Talk with your primary care physician before consuming or cutting caffeine in your diet.

What is the most surprising source of caffeine in your diet?