Coffee is such a popular part of everyday life that it’s easy to forget it’s a drug. In moderate amounts, caffeine is a harmless stimulant for most adults that can boost your mood, give you energy, and make you more alert.
However, health experts are starting to pay more attention to the risks that caffeine can pose for individuals who are more sensitive to its effects. In fact, earlier this year, the American Psychiatric Association officially recognized Caffeine Use Disorder as a health concern in need of additional research.
Maybe you’re wondering how much caffeine is safe for you. Take a look at this helpful guide that will help you figure out whether you need to cut back or eliminate caffeine from your diet.
Knowing When to Cut Back on Caffeine:
- Spot the symptoms. Caffeine use disorder has 3 major symptoms. You’re unable to give up caffeine on your own even though you want to, you consume caffeine even though you know it interferes with your health, and you experience headaches and other withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut back.
- Have a healthy baby. Pregnant women are advised to limit caffeine to 200 mg a day or about 2 cups of coffee. That’s because caffeine can affect weight gain and other aspects of fetal development.
- Manage heart conditions. While research about how caffeine affects heart conditions has produced mixed results, it is certain that caffeine constricts blood vessels. Talk with your doctor and follow their recommendations.
- Reduce anxiety. Caffeine can also intensify anxiety and panic attacks. Switching from espresso to herbal tea could provide relief.
Knowing How to Cut Back on Caffeine:
- Know your limits. Most experts agree that up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is safe for most adults. That’s equivalent to about 4 cups of coffee.
- Read labels. There are no laws about disclosing the amount of caffeine in a product, but some manufacturers provide the information voluntarily. You can also contact the company or check their websites.
- Go natural. Some energy shots and supplements take caffeine to extremes. Stick with natural sources like regular coffee, tea, and chocolate.
- Keep a journal. Writing down what you eat and drink can help you keep track of how much caffeine you’re using and how it makes you feel. Use a notebook or an app on your phone.
- Taper off gradually. Cutting back on caffeine slowly can help you to avoid headaches and stay more comfortable. Buy a smaller coffee cup or substitute water for one of your usual coffee drinks.
- Change your schedule. You might be satisfied with less coffee if you drink it more effectively. Start your day with water and save coffee for later in the morning. Smaller and more frequent servings will also help you to stay sharp with less jitters. A quick cup of coffee before a brief nap is another proven pick-me-up.
- Drink more water. The more caffeine you consume, the more water your body needs. That’s because caffeine is a diuretic that increases urination. Avoid dehydration by sipping water and eating foods like celery and strawberries that have a high water content.
- Sleep more. Do you drink coffee to stay awake because you’re short on sleep? Adequate rest is vital for your mental and physical health, and caffeine’s ability to keep you alert wears off after about 3 days. Try going to bed earlier instead.
If your daily cappuccino isn’t interfering with your health or productivity, you can probably stick with what you’re doing. If you’re concerned about your caffeine intake, cut back gradually or talk with your doctor if you need more assistance.