Kicking caffeine: You can do it!

Kicking caffeine: You can do it!

Does it ever seem like coffee’s the only thing keeping you going? Ever wonder why one cup becomes two, becomes three…? It’s because keeping your adrenal glands hopped up on caffeine can push your body too far past its limits. Your body has no choice but to scavenge its own muscles for fuel, which leaves you feeling rundown and in need of another caffeine boost. Talk about a vicious cycle!

The good news is that when you kick the caffeine habit, your adrenals come back online in just a few days. No more afternoon slumps or scrounging for change to buy your afternoon buzz — and at $4 a mocha, your wallet will thank you.

There’s no question: Giving up caffeine is tough. But the withdrawal systems (chiefly bad headaches) will dissipate after three or four days. And once you’re no longer caffeine-dependent, you’ll be amazed how great and how energized you feel. It’s a great accomplishment to shake that monkey off your back!

There are a couple ways to do it:

Cold turkey or gradual wean?

There are a couple of ways to get caffeine out of your life, and it comes down to personal preference. If you’re the rip-the-band-aid-off sort of person, going cold turkey is the fastest way to give caffeine the boot. If you’re more the peel-slowly type, you can wean yourself by cutting your normal caffeine intake by one-third every two days. Obviously, that’s going to take longer, but the withdrawal symptoms won’t be as severe as cold turkey.

Keep withdrawal symptoms dialed down by starting your day with a piece of fruit and a brisk workout to perk you up. Still dragging? Remember to:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat good carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal
  • Get plenty of sleep — if you’re well-rested you won’t need a caffeine pick-me-up
  • Add cinnamon to your morning smoothie
  • Feverfew and gingko biloba can can help with the headaches

Be sure to watch out for caffeine lurking in unexpected places: “decaf” coffee has 2 to 25 mg per cup. Tea (the stuff made with actual tea leaves) and chocolate have caffeine too, as do many energy drinks and soft drinks, so avoid those too.

Replace the ritual

Sometimes the act of brewing coffee is more important to your morning than actually drinking it; and it can be weird not to hold a warm mug in your hand in the morning. Giving up caffeine doesn’t mean giving up your morning ritual; herbal tea, plain hot water, and warm non-dairy milk all give you the feel of a steaming hot beverage in your hand. You can even keep using your coffee maker to brew loose-leaf herbal teas.

Coffee substitutes

 Giving up caffeine doesn’t have to mean the smell and taste of coffee are gone forever. You’ve got quite a few coffee substitutes to choose from, including:

  • Pero — a mix of malted barley, chicory and rye — is one of the best. It comes as a powder; you simply add hot water (along with almond milk and/or stevia if you like).
  • Cafix (made of barley and chicory) is also popular. It also comes as an instant powder.
  • Celestial Seasonings produces a coffee substitute called Roastaroma that comes as a tea bag
  • Some people swear by roasted dandelion root as a coffee replacement. Traditional Medicinals makes one that comes as a tea bag

Patience…

That’s probably the main thing you need. Once you get past those first three or four days, it’s going to get a LOT easier, so hang in there!


Links included in this article will sometimes direct you to the ShopHayliePomroy.com website, where you can learn more about and purchase many of the products mentioned. Please know that Haylie Pomroy has a financial interest in anything that is sold from ShopHayliePomroy.com.


103 thoughts on “Kicking caffeine: You can do it!

  1. How about tea? I have one cup of black tea in the morning with whole milk and sucrose (I plan to change the sucrose to agave after reading through your info on it, though–and that’s something no one has been able to get me to do!). I think of it as the one can’t-do-without luxury I allow myself. Could I still have it on the diet? The only time I use the whole milk is in my morning tea.

  2. I am so excited to start your diet this April. I want to give up coffee, but do I really have to give up a little bit of dark chocolate? What about green tea?

    • caffeine taxes your liver — we want your liver to be processing fat, not caffeine. So the caffeine is a time-waster for your liver during the diet.

  3. I started cutitng back on coffee afew weeks ago, now I drink a small cup in the morning. But to replace the lack of coffee I started drinking green tea instead. I have to say that I believe the combination on cleansing with honey + eating lots of apples and berries + leafy greens and drinking the green tea is the reason why I haven’t gotten any large pimples in about 3 weeks, in fact i’v only gotten the odd tiny little white head which I believe is from my makeup. I went to a healthfood store and got loose green tea leaves and a tea ball and it tastes stronger then the organic green tea bags but I dont mind the taste, I just drink it straight. It tooks awhile to get used to but I know it’s helping my skin, and it’s healthy

  4. I gave up coffee during the first week of this diet because I love half-and-half in my coffee, and since I couldn’t pour on the fat with that, I decided to go cold turkey. After the first day of headaches (didn’t drink enough water), I was amazed at how little I missed it. After a few days, I realized that I normally wasn’t drinking enough water daily BECAUSE of how much coffee I drank. After a week, I was waking up at my normal time (hideously early) without any coffee, and suddenly realized that I felt energized WITHOUT IT. I read this article on Day 7 without coffee. It’s true.

    • same here! Third day without coffee and I had lots of energy. On day 14+ and haven’t had coffee or any substitute since. Today as it snowed, I did crave a hot beverage, so I’ll look into Pero and other coffee substitutes out there, Amazon has most of them. But I don’t miss caffeine at all and have more energy than I’ve ever had, I sleep well, I wake up refreshed.

  5. I tried giving up coffee for the first 2 days and by dinner the second day, I had such a horrible headache that I was vomiting and not able to eat my dinner. Went to bed with cold wash cloth on my head. I amost gave up on the diet, but had lost 4 lbs in 2 days. How can I give up the caffeine. I drink crystal lite energy (I don’t like the taste of coffee). I know it has too many chemicals that are horrible for the body. Please tell me how to kick the caffeine.

    • I had terrible headaches too and vomit on my second day. Last night my lower back was killing me that I could not sleep is it because I’m drinking to much water. I have been looking for the Pero or Cafix to stop the cravings but can’t find it. does anyone know where can I find them.

  6. I don’t drink coffee for the adrenaline rush or the need to feel energized – I drink coffee because I enjoy the taste. It has even been proven that coffee has more health benefits than risks (it was even on Dr. OZ) so, can I still do the diet & drink my coffee? Thanks

  7. Herbal tea is made from many plants, using not just the leaves, but also the flowers, roots, bark and seeds. At Celestial Seasonings, our herbal tea recipes blend the flavors of different botanicals from around the world – resulting in an infinite variety of healthful taste sensations. In fact, this exploration of the many flavors, remedies and benefits of herbal teas is one of the greatest pleasures of working with herbs — there’s an herbal tea that’s just right for every mood and every moment. ..

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  8. In all phases vinegar is allowed but is this limited to a specific amount for each meal or snack (specifically balsamic)? Also can Chia seeds be used & if so what phases? Thanks!

  9. I take caffeine with NSAIDS as an adjunct to help relieve migraine pain and as a prevention a prescribed by my doctor. Will this effect my weight loss?

    • Although caffeine is not part of the diet, you should always follow your doctor’s advice, so certainly continue with your treatment.

  10. I have been on the diet for a eight days. I have had a headache every day. I understand that giving up caffeine comes at a cost initially, but just wondering if others have experienced headaches this long… In the book it says three or four days, so I’m getting concerned that I’m having to deal with these headaches daily. Also, I’m wondering if I should look for other causes if this is something out of the ordinary.

    • Caffeine withdrawal usually starts to subside, for most, in 4 days or so. But if you drank a lot of coffee — and also gave up sugar and wheat (and ate a lot of those), you could be getting a triple whammy of toxin withdrawal. You could also be having low blood sugar headaches. Try lots of lemon and lime on P2 — add it to your water, your veggies, liberally. And in P1, try going for the higher sugar fruits like the mango and pineapple.

      • I also had to drink more than what was recommended at first. Every time I felt like another headache was coming on, I drink 4-8oz. of water. I ended up going off the migraine medication I take after consulting with my doctor. I just need more water than most. That might help you too.

  11. On diet second day of phase 2 and I woke up feeling light headed and exhausted and slept. A. Total of 16 hours yesterday. Is this normal? Is this a side effect of sugar and caffeine withdrawal. HELP.

  12. I cut coffee out of my morning ritual, i’m on day 4, and I can not shake the headache for 2 days. I go to sleep and wake up with it. The only thing that helps my headaches is Excederine… but it has caffiene!!!! Is that defeating the purpose if I take it? Please help!

    • Caffeine withdrawal is the WORST. For most, powering through it is the way to go. Warn everyone that you’re going to be grumpy, and go for it. Cool clothes on your head, lots of lemon and lime in water, and iced herbal teas can help. The caffeine-withdrawal headaches should subside in four days or so once you go cold turkey, including Excedrine

  13. I’m on the day 4 of the diet Besides the headaches, the muscles in my legs ache. I have 2 dogs and walk a lot so it’s not the exercise. I have to take aspirin to sleep. I stopped my Lattes and coffee about a month ago and was just drinking one cup of tea at night, so the caffeine withdrawal shouldn’t be too bad, but I did eat a lot of sugar.

  14. So I tried quitting cold turkey and the headaches were intolerable, especially with four young kids at home. I have had one small cup a day down from about 5 and will cut this back to 1/2 a cup. Should I stay on the diet or start over after I kick the habit? I don’t want to loose momentum.

    • Just keep going and wean yourself. Congratulations on getting from 5 cups to 1/2 cup — that’s an accomplishment!

  15. On day 4 – I threw in the towel today and had an espresso because I had such a bad headache. My HA medicine wasn’t helping (Imatrex). If I continue with a little coffee each day will it make the diet useless?

  16. DAY 8 of the diet, gave up caffeine mostly cold turkey (had weened off a little the week previous) but WOW was I sick day 1! Started with queasiness, nausea and turned into vomiting and monster headache and more vomiting all day long. Also had cold sweats, hot flashes, sensitivity to light and sound (wore ear plugs), muscle aches (kneck area) and a weird “pressure” feeling in my throat as if I was being choked. Ibuprofen and my migraine meds barely touched the headache. Slept most of the day and most of the night. You would have thought I was withdrawing from hard core drugs!!! I had no idea how powerful caffeine addiction was and will NEVER get addicted to it again! After day 1 I used ibuprofen every 4 hours to keep headaches at bay for the next four days and it worked! Still felt foggy headed and still do to a degree but feel very little headache pain. The food tastes great and I have already lost 5 lbs! My family even enjoyed some of the recipes. Looking forward to waking up feeling great over the next few days as I feel the caffeine withdrawals are still present. In hindsight, had I known how sick I was going to be, I would have weened myself off caffeine over a period of 1 month measuring out my caffeine in ounces.

    • It’s shocking how addictive caffeine can be – and most of us don’t even realize it until we try to get off it. I had the same experience. I cut back over the course of two weeks and had a low-grade headache the whole time. Then when I finally stopped entirely, I still had the monster headache. Personally, I won’t be going back to that stuff again.

  17. I gave up yesterday on the caffeine as well. I was physically ill, like everyone else, for 2 and a half days; vomiting, unable to eat, unable to even function, barely able to hold a conversation. Amazing that after 1/2 cup of coffee my headache, queasiness, and fever disappeared. I was able to eat the rest of the meal plan yesterday and this morning. I plan to continue to follow to the food part and wean myself off of the coffee. I’ve lost 4 pounds so far but If I don’t lose 20 pounds in a month, I’ll be happy with anything.

  18. Experiencing caffeine withdrawal headache for 2 days so far. Im on day 2 of phase 1 & realized early what was happening so I upped my water intake..didnt help but water is good regardless. Took otc meds but have decided to stop because my stomach is not happy with them. Thank you Haylie & team for this info!

  19. I’m so glad I am not a coffee drinker..I would have it on occasion but not every day. This is day 2 for me and what I’m finding is that I’m tiered of eating. I definitely don’t feel deprived.

  20. Just completed day three and the good new is, that I don’t feel hungry and find the diet east to follow (especially with the app). The bad news is that I too, have had the nagging headache from cutting out the caffeine. I don’t even drink that much (half caf in the morning and decaf the rest of the day). After two days of herbal tea only, I finally gave in and bought organic decaf sumatra coffee that’s 99.7 caffeine free. Maybe it’s just psychological but my headaches subsided a bit. Is that okay?
    Also having difficulty eating within 30 minutes of waking.

    • You can – AFTER you satisfy your water requirement for the day. And it’s a good idea not to drink too many sweetened beverages during the day — Haylie says keep it to three or less. You don’t want your body to “expect” sweet things so much.

  21. I give you all credit! im a coffee/tea drinker and will be till the day i die! Its a love for me, a lifestyle. How many things should a person have to take away from themselves in order to be healthy? Coffee makes me happy, and for me life is too short for the kind of misery giving up coffee would bring. Maybe i may not drop these last 15-20 lbs but if i dont oh well…ill be smiling over my java you ladies are inspiring tho.

  22. Hi there, day 2 of Phase 1, caffeine withdrawal is intense. Only have been having headaches, nothing else. Slept really well last night, probably the best sleep in a very long time, probably due to no coffee! I did, by mistake, have a green tea both days, not realizing that it still contained caffeine!! I will switch to herbal tea, like peppermint, going forward. Is herbal tea, like peppermint allowed on the diet?

    • Yes — herbal, non-caffeinated teas are allowed. One of my favorites is mint tea brewed really strong — to me, it tastes a lot like a black tea, only there’s no caffeine.

  23. I have the Feverfew capsules (380mg) to help with the headaches but how many do i take? Thank you for all the information.

    • The University of Maryland Medical Center has good guidelines on that, based on studies of feverfew with migraine sufferers. They say “Adults: For migraine headaches: Studies have used 50 – 100 mg daily, standardized to contain 0.2 – 0.35% parthenolides. Feverfew may be used to prevent or stop a migraine headache. Feverfew supplements may also be carbon dioxide extracted. For these, one study used 6.25 mg, 3 times daily, for up to 16 weeks.

      Here’s the link: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/feverfew

  24. I gave up coffee many years ago and want to pass along a hint. I discovered that what I was seeking was a few moments of relaxation with a warm drink. I replaced the coffee with hot water and lemon and have been enjoying that beverage for about 20 years!
    It was, however, very hard for me to give up my iced tea (which I stopped about a year ago). I replaced it with iced water and lemon.

    • I did this diet in September, I did not loose much and was really upset .But they way how I feel at the end of the diet it was Amazing -very light!!!t
      Throughout my life I always had 1 -2 cups of coffee a day but very very strong, bitter and without milk and sugar like 4 table spoons for a cup .when I decide to go on this diet this was the hardest thing .i was one week very weak with headache but at the end of the diet Even the smell of coffee did not tempt me.my mind was reminding me that it’s stimulates me but my body really did not need it.i can leave without it.
      I would say using this diet you can leave healthy .28 days are perfect to have a good habit of eating healthy .
      Think “you do not harm yourself” you going through the cleaning process and it will benefit you one way or the other.
      .Again I did not loose much but I would love to do it again to keep it as a life style.

  25. I drink coffee because it aides in my every morning elimination. Is there something else I can drink to have this same affect?

  26. I put my husband on this diet as he wanted to loose 15 pounds, he liked the diet but wanted coffee so we went with decaf in the morning after breakfast and in 26 days he lost 13 pounds and did not gain any back through the Christmas season.

  27. I lost weight on the diet but did not cut out coffee – I have a large cup in the morning and still lost weight. I didn’t have much to lose, only about 10 lbs and lost 5. Went off diet after 3 weeks. Found I was bored. Good diet though – I recommended it to friends and they have been successful on it too. Just not sure if cutting out coffee really matters. Maybe if you have a lot of weight to lose.

  28. I enjoyed the diet and lost the 8 lbs that I needed it also helped bc my husband eats healthy due to recent diagnosis of bladder cancer. I gave up the caffeine however I felt deprived after 2 months and ended up stopping it all together. I now am ready to try again however I cant give up the caffeine this time around mainly bc I do enjoy coffee so my question is will the diet still work if I drink caffeine ?
    I have no problems with any of it at all except the caffeine

    • Hi Kim. Haylie certainly advises giving up caffeine. But I know I have seen people posting on Facebook that they did not give it up and still lost some weight.

  29. I’ve totally stopped all caffeine and I am doing great! I bought Pero for the occasional treat, should I not drink it during phase 2 because of the barley and rye? ( I drink it plain with a little stevia, but no almond milk.) Thank you!!

    • It’s okay to drink PERO on all phases. But you might just keep it to a cup or so on Phase 2. Good point about the barley, but Haylie did approved it for all phases.

  30. For some, giving up their coffee and going the herbal tea route will not be easy.
    Some have allergies to weeds which make it harmful for them to consume these herbal teas. This is something that you may want to look into when you tell them to drink the herbal tea.
    I have allergies to weeds (ragweed for one) and was told, a long time ago, to stay away from Echinacea, Chamomile (which I loved), Dandelion and several other herbal teas.
    If you do have allergies to any type of pollen, I would seek my doctors advice before turning to herbal teas, especially if you are using them as a replacement for your other caffeine beverages in large doses.

  31. I have a pretty minimal caffeine intake, i.e. one cup of black tea per day, so I could probably give it up if necessary. However, I haven’t been able to find any scientific studies to support the idea that moderate caffeine intake taxes the liver. I’d love it if someone could point me in the right direction.

  32. I suggest weaning off caffeine the week before starting the diet. I cut back to a small cup of coffee each day the week before. The week I started the diet, on the second day I stopped caffeine. I still had a horrible headache in the evening but with Tylenol and sleep I was able to get through it and by the next morning I was surprised it was gone.
    I have been dependent on caffeine for 15 years and now I don’t need it all! Finally!

  33. i take for allergies Bronkaid 3 times a day. it says that it works as an appetite suppressant but i still eat what i am allotted. i also take a prescription anti-inflammatory for my hip (which i take only when needed)
    and all this with no Gallbladder…

    will the medicines have a negative effect on losing weight?

  34. Hi Christine. Could you find out if this tea is ok. It tastes like its not ok, yummy in fact. It’s called Sweet & Spicy caffeine free herbal tea made by “Good Earth”. Ingredients: Rooibos, Chicory Root, Natural Flavor, Rosehip, cinnamon, lemongrass, peppermint, chamomile, ginger root, anise seed, orange oil, orange peel. Thanks very much.

    • Sounds delicious! I love licorice tea myself — it has a wonderful sweetness. The sweetness in your tea is probably coming from the chicory.

  35. I’m starting this diet tomorrow and I’m certainly scared of caffeine withdrawal headaches! I’m prone to headaches as well as migraines. Cross your fingers for me!

  36. This my be crazy question but I’m a “rule” follower. My sweet husband just bought me Herbal tea for my birthday. I LOVE tea but he did know I couldn’t have caffeine on this plan so it is herbal but the ingredients have fruit for example one list ingredients as:
    Apple pieces, hibiscus flowers, rosehip peels, beetroot pieces, apple slices, orange slices, orange peels, natural flavoring, orange juice pieces, orange petals, rose petals
    I’m hoping it’s ok but if not I want to know so I will not mess up.
    Thanks so much

  37. Yesterday was my first day without my morning coffee – actually I did not have coffee all day but I found myself to be extremely tired, this morning I woke up with terrible body aches, no headache but a dull feeling. I am starting the FMD today and I am wondering if I can take Advil for my symptoms and will it affect my weight loss? should I just wait to start the diet until my withdrawl symptoms go away?

    • Hi. The withdrawal symptoms should get better in a few days. I think it’s okay to take an advil (assuming that it’s something you take normally).

  38. Hi I am now at day 2 of phase 3 and I seem to be having trouble fitting in all the meals and snacks – should the snacks be eaten 2hrs after the main meals – an lets say its 5pm and I am due to have my late afternoon snack – should I just skip the snack and eat dinner at like 6, I am sometimes eating too close together and I would rather not wait until 7;30 pm to eat dinner? the snacks in the late afternoon and even the morning sometimes screw me up an put off the meal times……

    • Hi Linda. You have a 2 to 4 hour window between meals and snacks, so you have a pretty flexible window. Haylie said last week that if you have to, it’s okay to flip your dinner and afternoon snack to make the timing work out better.

  39. Hi Christine,
    Good news I am finally getting used to the meal schedule – and I am using the cook book to get meal ideas and also I am cooking a lot ahead!!!
    I am in my second week, day 4 – so far I have lost just 3 pounds – I was wondering if I will notice more of a weight loss as I get further into the 28 days, and I was also wondering if my size has something to do with it , I am 5′ now 123 lbs, I would like to get down to 105 , but I would not consider myself drastically over weight…..do you think that the standard portion sizes are to much for my small body size? I know that the veggies are usually unlimited – but do you think that the protein is too much(4oz)?
    I was hoping to see a greater weight loss at this point.

    • Hi Linda. Three pounds is great, especially since you don’t have a lot to lose. Haylie has not mentioned backing off the standard portions for anyone. But maybe in Phase 3, you could think about staying on the lower side for healthy fats. It’s up to you. But this is only day 11 for you — give it the whole 28 days. Then if you want to start making some tweaks to suit yourself, you can choose to do that.

  40. Hello, day 2 and I know I can completely give up coffee, but I am more used to eat roasted cacao nibs after coffee, can I still cacao nibs?

    Best regards and thank you in advance.

    • Hi Oscar. You can have raw cacao nibs — so if you swap raw for your roasted, then yes you can continue to have those.

  41. Hi – I am on week 3 of the diet and have only lost 8 lbs. I have been as “honest” as I know how on this diet – I watch my meats but haven’t gone organic with them all the way -too expensive! I cut out the caffeine and am drinking Pero. Do I just have to be patient and keep of the exercise and diet. I have 25 lbs. I want to lose.

    • Eight pounds is great! That’s three pounds a week. You’re doing great, Christine. Hang in there.

  42. I am starting day one tomorrow. I have been weaning myself off of caffeine. Is is alright to drink Teeccino with a little stevia and almond milk during the diet?

    • Yes — BUT check the package. Some of the teeccino varities have sugar in them, so please check. Almond milk is only on Phase 3. You can have rice milk on Phase 1. No milks are on Phase 2.

  43. Thanks for the response! I will follow your instructions on this. Another question. I am getting tired of drinking water at every meal. Is there anything else I can drink? Is vitamin water zero exceptable? It is sweetened with stevia.

    • Haylie prefers no flavored bottled water. But you can make your own. Try squeezing lemon or lime into your water and adding stevia. You can also make iced herbal tea. I love mint tea, myself.

  44. I’m on Day 3 – still have constant headache and mild nausea – there was no way I could choke down another bowl of chicken and barley soup last night. I understand aspirin contains caffeine – is that true of all pain relievers? Aleve knocks out pain better than anything – would it be ok?

    • Hi Sharon. I also had a hard time getting past the caffeine headaches. I used ibuprofen, which doesn’t contain caffeine. Aleve does indeed contain caffeine.

  45. My husband read the book and I am doing the diet with him. We are on day 6 and feeling great! He took a look at my supplements and suggested not taking them…especially because one has yeast and soy. So we aren’t taking THAT vitamin. I was wondering if I can take a different supplement that has green tea extract in it? I’m kinda sad I’ll have to stop taking the one with yeast and soy because the vitamins have already made such an improvement to my energy. I haven’t finished the book myself, is there a suggested vitamin brand or protocol?

    • Hi Jenna. Haylie recommends following your doctor’s guidelines regarding vitamins, medications and supplements, even if they don’t 100% conform to the diet. So you and your doctor are certainly free to make the call on this one!

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