Are you attached to your beverage habits – the nightly glass of wine, the wake-up cups of coffee, the mid-afternoon pick-me-up soda? The calories and sugar that come along with these drinks and their effects on our hormones and neurotransmitters can cause a cascade of bodily effects that end up packing on the pounds. If this is you, are you curious to feel how tweaking your habits can help you sleep better, feel lighter and less stressed, and actually purge toxins? Here are some suggestions to gently transition away from these entrenched habits:
Do you use coffee for comfort, energy, to perk up, as part of an ingrained habit (daily Starbucks run, anyone?), or even as a daily laxative? Some studies have shown benefits from moderate coffee intake, especially for those who are fast caffeine metabolizers. But for many, the daily multi-cup coffee habit is disturbing sleep, stimulating our stress hormones, and promoting a hyper-vigilant nervous system. Why do you drink coffee? If you think it could be causing you stress, consider one of the modifications below.
- “But first, lemon water.” (Instead of the popular “but first, coffee”). Start your day with a cup of warm or room temperature lemon water before anything else. We are most dehydrated first thing in the morning! This habit provides much-needed hydration after an overnight fast and helps flush the system from metabolic waste. A simple, easy-to-remember addition to the daily routine without taking anything away.
- Organic matcha or green tea. Still caffeinated–although about half as much–with the calming amino acid l-theanine, matcha can increase focus while calming the nervous system.is full of phytonutrient antioxidants and cancer-fighting phenols. Try a matcha latte with non-dairy milk if you're dairy free; some favorite add-ins include stevia, date syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. A green tea with honey can be a great afternoon pick-me-up.
- Dandy Blend. An organic herbal concoction featuring dandelion root, Dandy Blend resembles coffee, still has a rich, bitter taste and helps the liver and gallbladder detox. For those who drink coffee all day long – start by replacing all but the first 1-2 cups of coffee with Dandy Blend and go from there. Dandelion root tea is a less expensive version with a lighter flavor.
- Elixirs. Tasty, convenient beverages featuring mushrooms, medicinal herbs and superfoods come in many flavors and provide a variety of therapeutic benefits. https://harmonicarts.ca/collections/elixirs is a great example of what’s available. Or make your own using Om mushroom powders such as their recipes here: https://ommushrooms.com/blogs/blog/immunity-tinctures
- Upgrade to better coffee. Coffee is a high-pesticide crop and is often moldy. Always choose organic such as Equator, Lifeboost and Purity. Four Sigmatic goes a step further as organic coffee options infused with medicinal mushroom extracts.
- Creamer replacement – for those with dairy elimination who still want to have cream in their coffee or tea, choose from a variety of non-dairy options including almond, coconut, oat or macadamia varieties which are surprisingly creamy and rich. A touch of MCT oil or full fat coconut milk can be used for quick-absorbing and filling fats that add richness and creaminess.
A major promoter of diseases such as diabetes, obesity and aluminum toxicity, soda can be a hard habit to break! Here are some alternatives that keep the fizzy refreshment but drop the chemicals and sugar load. It typically takes about 2 months for our taste buds to withdraw from a habit of highly sweetened beverages and appreciate rich, natural flavors.
- Zevia – a canned stevia sweetened beverage that can be a great first step to wean off commercial soda. Comes in a variety of flavors, including a cola. Over time, begin to dilute this with plain or sparkling mineral water to “reprogram” the taste buds to need less sweetness.
- Flavored or unflavored stevia with mineral water – use something like Pellegrino or Gerolsteiner as a base. Add some stevia drops and you get a fizzy soda-like drink!
- “Hollywood” spritzer – drop the stevia and flavor the sparkling mineral water with a splash (1-2 Tbsp) of fruit juice (great with citrus) or a couple chunks of real fruit such as pineapple or watermelon that you lightly macerate with a spoon in the bottom of the glass.
- Kombucha or Switchel – probiotic-rich beverages which can be mixed with plain or sparkling water for a great soda replacement. Great for the microbiome too.
For many people, light-to-moderate alcohol intake can be an ongoing part of a healthy lifestyle. But while one is wrestling with chronic disease, or issues with sleep, energy, hot flashes and/or weight, patients often benefit from substantially reducing or taking a break from alcohol. To reduce the alcohol, keep the meaningful rituals that matter most (e.g. the glass, the setting, the relaxation, the sunset, the companionship) and spice it up with fun, alternative Mocktail options:
- Antiox Powerhouse – Lemon juice, water, a splash or pomegranate juice, and blueberries. Blend together (with ice if it’s summer) and top with minced mint leaves. Delish!
- Nongarita – Juice of 1 lemon, 1 lime, chilled water and a few drops of stevia. Serve over ice and serve in a glass with Himalayan sea salt around the rim. Great for extra vitamin C and electrolytes!
- A Modern Digestif – Fill an ice-cold shaker with 1 1/2 cups sparkling mineral water, 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 5-10 drops liquid stevia and 3-5 drops of 1 or 2 essential oils based on preference (some good ones are lemon, ginger, lime and grapefruit). Shake and serve over ice or in a sexy glass with a cocktail umbrella. Garnish with a citrus slice or fresh mint. Especially great before dinner, the vinegar and the bitter oils stimulate digestive secretions.
You can research mocktail recipes online to find ones that call to you. Serve beverages in a wine or margarita glass to enhance your experience and perhaps increase your sense of belonging or comfort in social settings.
And keep an eye out for my upcoming Summer 5-Day Detox to reset your health and ditch some unwanted pounds.
This is my life-changing daily morning drink since giving up coffee. Made of finely powdered green tea leaves, matcha provides a whopping dose of phytonutrients, some caffeine (about 1/2 as much as coffee) plus the calming amino acid L-theanine so you don't get the jitters. Green tea can help lower blood sugar. And the collagen adds a tasteless boost to the health of your skin, hair, nails and gut lining.
1/2 t organic matcha powder procured from Japan
1 scoop collagen powder such as Great Lakes collagen from grass-fed cows
About 3/4 of a cup of hot water, just under the boiling point
Milk of your choice (See below for my almond milk recipe.)
Place powders in mug. Add water and stir with spoon. Use traditional bamboo whisk or small battery operated whisk (on Amazon, for example) to mix well. Add splash or two of milk to taste. You can foam the milk first with the whisk in a separate glass if you are a foam lover like me.
ALMOND MILK OR ANY NUT MILK
You can buy almond milk in stores, but homemade tastes better and is free of gums. If you choose one at your store, make sure it doesn’t contain carrageenan, which can cause stomach and intestinal erosion and distress. To make it yourself, you will need a nut milk bag which can be purchased at health food stores and online at Amazon.com.
1 c raw almonds (or pecans, cashews, walnuts)
4 c water
1 t vanilla extract, optional (omit for unflavored almond milk)
Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend on high speed until very well combined and white. Pour liquid into nut milk bag held over a large bowl or wide-mouth pitcher. Close bag and squeeze slowly until all liquid has been extracted. Keep refrigerated; will last 3-4 days.