Don’t worry moms everywhere. You don’t have to kick me out of the coffee-loving mom’s club. If you ask me if I like coffee, you better believe that I’ll enthusiastically raise my hand. And I can appreciate what coffee does for parents everywhere.
Coffee + culture
It’s kind of funny, actually, how ingrained coffee has become in our culture. It’s unlikely that you’re a millennial mom and haven’t posted a flat lay photo of some beautiful latte art in a hipster coffee shop, an Instagram story of that moment when mama really needed a cup of energy, or double tapped when that blogger you followed posted a beautiful handwritten “no talkie before coffee”. I get it. I love coffee just as much as the next mom. But I also love sleep. And I love feeling healthy, headache-free and in control of my body. I’d also love to know that my body has the ability to be energized all on it’s own.
I decided to reduce my caffeine intake
So, I have been intentionally reducing the amount of caffeine (coffee for me) that I drink. Maybe you have thought about this before. You’re four cups of coffee in when you realize it’s 11:30am and your hand has started to shake. Then you swear to stop drinking so much caffeine, but go right back to it the next day. Or maybe you don’t have coffee for a day and you have a massive headache to prove it.
Whatever your story. I don’t want you to add “reduce caffeine intake” to your list of broken promises. Before we get to the tips, it’s worth pointing out a few things I’ve found true about my relationship with caffeine.
Me, Coffee, and Caffeine
Coffee and caffeine can be good for you and bad for you
There are studies that support coffee’s positive effect in preventing against dementia and Alzheimer’s (something that runs strong in my family). There are also studies that point out how coffee (and caffeine) can help boost your mood. There are equal number of studies that show caffeine causes sleep disturbance and increases anxiety. Too much caffeine can cause headaches and migraines.
Basically coffee can be too much of a good thing. But reasonable amounts of coffee can be good for you. Hence we quest to have coffee but just not go crazy with it.
My caffeine sensitivity increased after becoming a mom
In college, I could drink a couple venti coffees throughout the day, get the jolt that I wanted while still feel nothing close to a jitter, and go to sleep whenever I wanted. I operated like that for much of my twenties. When I’m laying in bed regretting my afternoon coffee, I envy that girl.
After having Hayes my sensitivity to caffeine totally changed. I started to notice that by the end of my second cup of coffee I would have a slight shake. And if I decided to have a shot of espresso with cream in the afternoon, I was typically jittery. And falling asleep when I went to bed at 9:30pm wasn’t likely — my body was tired, but my eye lids were wide open.
I truly thought I was making this up completely. So I looked it up and it turns out I might be making this up completely. All I could find was that your caffeine sensitivity tends to increase with age and that extreme amounts of caffeine are bad for babies. So jury is still out, but consider me anecdotal evidence.
As much as I love coffee, I might love the ritual of coffee more.
On my perfect “me day”. I would wake up on a sunny fall day, brisk 58 degrees, walk out onto a porch with a view in a giant sweater, leggings, and slippers. I would cozy up and read a book in silence while sipping a hot cup of coffee. Bliss. That’s complete bliss to me. And even if it’s not my perfect “me day”, the ritual of drinking a hot cup of coffee to wake my body up to the day ahead is something I cherish.
How to reduce caffeine intake and still live your best life
The truth is. I don’t want to rely on caffeine to make me energized and excited to take on each day. I want to be energized because I treat myself well. I rest. Sleep. Take care of my body. Eat (mostly) healthy. And drink a ton of water. So I started to do a few things that help me reduce my caffeine intake, but still live my best life with a mug or two of coffee a day involved.
Less volume, better coffee
I didn’t grow up in a coffee loving home, I started my love for coffee with a Coco Loco from Gloria Jeans in our local mall, which is 99% sugar and 1% coffee. Then I gradually started to drink more and more coffee drinks, eventually switching over to real coffee with cream and sugar, until black coffee was a part of my daily morning routine.
My love for good coffee started in college when I started to frequent Shenadoah Joe’s Coffee. That’s the first place I was introduced to pour over coffee, which truly does taste so much better. When I started to appreciate the taste of coffee more, it became more than a means to an end (drink coffee, feel on fire, stay awake) and more about the delicious taste. Now I don’t drink quite the volume of coffee I use to throughout the day because I savor the test a bit more.
p.s. if you haven’t seen them already, I have my eyes on a Brim coffee maker which automates the pour over process. The idea of being able to have pour over and still be able to set it up the night before is magical to me.
Time box your caffeine intake window
Unless I know I’m going to be up later than my normal bedtime (date night, at a wedding, Christmas eve, friends in town, girls weekend, etc.) I don’t drink caffeine after my morning coffee. It’s as simple as that.
If I start to feel lethargic or hit an afternoon lull — which is normally when I would reach for another cup of coffee — I fill my water bottle up, chug it, and fill it up again.
Every time I don’t follow the caffeine time box — yes, it happens — I have a hard time falling asleep and I get frustrated with myself for pretending I’m invisible.
My new favorite way to reduce caffeine intake — half caff coffee!
You might be aware of my favorite way of making coffee (hint: it includes butter), but recently I’ve started to adjust that recipe ever so slightly in hopes of reducing my caffeine intake in a subtle but effective way. Instead of adding all regular coffee, I add half regular coffee, half decaf coffee (half caff).
Turns out if you ask me how to reduce caffeine intake, I’ll just tell you to trick yourself.
The ritual of drinking a half cup of coffee at home and my travel mug once I get to the office doesn’t have to be bothered, I’m still drinking the same volume and maintaining my good vibes. I started doing this about 2 months ago and I’m not sure we will ever turn back.
The nice part about this is that if you’re worried about a caffeine headache from cutting caffeine, just ease your way into half caff — you can decide the ratio!
Important note: be aware of how your coffee is decaffeinated. I have started to become more aware of not only where the coffee is sourced but any processes it goes through. Many decaffeinating processes include toxic chemicals. This is the decaf coffee that we use, it’s available on Amazon.
Get started reducing your caffeine intake
If you’re curious about how to reduce your caffeine intake, chances are you know caffeine has a bit of a grip in your life. If you’re not sure how dependent you are to coffee, take note of how much coffee you drink each day and what time of day for the rest of the week. When I really became aware of how much caffeine I was drinking, it was much more than I realized. I was a little shocked to find out that over the course of the day I drank enough coffee to fill one of those embarrassingly large gas stations mugs that are probably around 40 ounces.