If you’re anything like me, then you practically need caffeine to survive. If I’m not guzzling down two cups of coffee in the morning, I basically feel dead for the the entire day. One big problem for caffeine lovers in today’s world is that they gravitate towards shops like Starbucks or others, and get their morning jolt from some kind of fancy drink that makes sweetened lattes taste bitter in comparison. I used to be the same way, but over time I’ve figured out how to limit the calories I get from caffeine, and thus live a healthier life while still being able to sate my addiction. Where do we begin?

Step 1 – Recognize The Problem

About five years ago is when I started drinking coffee heavily (unsurprisingly this coincided with my first year of college). It started out innocently enough, but I soon found that I couldn’t drink the stuff without the addition of fake creamers like Coffee-Mate, which definitely isn’t the best thing in the world. Indeed, at first, I’d basically be drinking Coffee-Mate with coffee, and not the other way around. It was at this point that I realized I needed to do something if I wanted to keep drinking my favorite caffeinated beverage to the extent that I did.

Step 2 – Make Small Changes

I started by simply reducing the sweetened creamer I was adding to my coffee. Eventually, I got to the point where I was drinking coffee with Coffee-Mate. Around this time I was also cutting soda from my diet, and subsequently I began to dislike the fake-sweet aftertaste of Coffee-Mate, and so I threw that out completely. I didn’t go entirely cold turkey though, as I replaced my Coffee-Mate with sugar and half and half. It was almost as sweet as it was before, but wasn’t nearly as fake as what I was using previously. Over the next few months, I reduced the sugar I added to my coffee bit by bit, until I could stand just drinking my coffee with a pinch of sugar and half and half. Now, at this point, a bit of fate came into play as I ran out of sugar. So, for about a week I was left with just half and half. Surprisingly, I came to enjoy that experience about as much as I did when there was sugar involved, and so I just kept drinking my coffee with half and half. A few times I was able to drink it black (mostly when my half and half went bad or something like that), but to this day I prefer drinking it with half and half (though I don’t need that much of it). The key here is that this all happened over the course of four years, not overnight. So take it a day at a time. Just decrease the amount of sweeteners you’re using week by week, and you’ll find soon enough that you didn’t really need it in your coffee after all.

Step 3 – Treat Yourself

What’s life without a few guilty pleasures now and again? I do admit that drinking coffee black or with a bit of half and half does get boring now and again. When I want to satisfy my extreme caffeine cravings, I usually go for a flavored latte of some sort, usually vanilla, with extra shots of espresso. It’s not the healthiest drink in the world, but it’s healthier than many options on cafe menus these days and will give you the kind of jolt of sweet caffeinated goodness we all desire from time to time. Don’t go overboard, but be sure to let yourself go every so often, as that way you’re less likely to fall off the wagon entirely.

Step 4 – Become A Coffee Connoisseur

What helped me most was doing some research and learning about what makes good coffee. Once I figured out the basics, I went and bought my own beans, a grinder, and french press, and got to work. When you really take the time to make your own brew, you appreciate the flavor that much more, and usually get a much higher quality of coffee that is a joy to drink even without sweeteners. Looking back, half the reason I used so much Coffee-Mate initially was because I was drinking the kind of coffee they sell in those big tins at supermarkets. While that stuff’s good when you really need the caffeine, grinding your own beans results in a much better experience, and even costs less in the long run. When you put some work into what you’re drinking, you’ll be disinclined from “ruining” it with additives.

Final Thoughts

Everyone wants to be a little bit healthier, and this is just one relatively easy way to do so if you’re a caffeine lover who has something of a sweet tooth. Trust me when I say that if you follow these steps, you’ll still enjoy your coffee just as much (you’ll just be a little slimmer while doing so)!