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4 Women Break Their Bad Eating Habits

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Cutting Caffeine Cravings

Name: Stephanie Hillebrand
Age: 31
Profession: Civil engineer in Huntington Beach, California
Height: 5'7" Weight: 140 pounds
What She Gave up: Caffeine

Stephanie's caffeine habit consisted of two Grande Starbucks coffees each morning, one or two cups of iced tea or soda at lunch, and more soda in the late afternoon to help her power through her 12-hour workdays. "It helped me focus in the morning and the first part of my day, but I was becoming really jittery and then crashing in the afternoon. I was falling asleep at my desk!" she says.

Nightmare...or No Big Deal?

Stephanie went cold turkey, replacing her usual morning coffee with decaf tea and her soda with water. She had bad headaches every day for the first two weeks, overwhelming fatigue, and a strong desire for a cup. "I was obsessed by the fact that I couldn't have coffee!" she says. She also missed the manic feeling that helped her meet deadlines. But by week three she felt more even-keeled. She added back one cup of coffee at the end of the experiment but kept her intake to that. "I feel edgy and unwell now if I have more than one cup a day," she says. "Plus I can still accomplish everything I need to -- including meeting my deadlines -- without the crazy caffeine high."

Cut It Out

Because caffeine can create a dependency, cold turkey may not be your best option, since it can cause withdrawal symptoms like Stephanie's. "Caffeine is short-acting, so it brings you up quickly, then down just as fast, and you need to drink more and more to get the same effect," explains Blatner. A more effective strategy is to gradually cut back to one or two cups a day by ordering half regular/half decaf. If you do have withdrawal symptoms, which generally subside after a few days, try drinking more water to prevent dehydration (an energy zapper) and eating fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and sunflower seeds, all of which take longer to digest and give you more sustained energy. To ease headaches, take a caffeine-free pain reliever like aspirin or ibuprofen.

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