More than half of American adults get a daily boost of caffeine by drinking coffee. However, if you're the type of person who wishes to avoid this stimulant, you shouldn't have to make major changes to your diet. Although caffeine is prevalent in several foods, the majority of what you eat is devoid of caffeine.
An overwhelming majority of the everyday foods you eat, including grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables and dairy products, don't naturally contain caffeine. For example, a meal that consists of a salad, a chicken breast, baked potato, mixed vegetables and a glass of milk doesn't have any caffeine. Be careful, however, of chocolate-flavored dairy products. Ice cream that is naturally flavored with chocolate or coffee, for example, contains a trace amount of caffeine.
Products That Contain Caffeine
When evaluating the components of your diet that may or may not have caffeine, it's far simpler to first get an understanding of the limited number of products that contain caffeine. Caffeine is found in products that contain coffee beans and cocoa beans, such as coffee and chocolate. It's also in tea leaves, kola nuts, guarana and yerba mate. Check the ingredient labels of your food; if anything contains one of these products, steer clear of it.
When choosing a drink, the same principles as food are applicable; most drinks don't contain caffeine. Water, milk, fruit juice and many soft drink flavors aren't a source of caffeine. Lemon-lime soft drinks, for example, don't contain caffeine. Even traditionally caffeinated beverages such as cola are available in caffeine-free versions. In addition to skipping coffee and tea, avoid energy drinks and chocolate milk. Energy drinks are packed with caffeine and even chocolate milk contains a slight amount of caffeine.
Avoid Caffeine Side Effects
By making a few minor adjustments to how you eat and drink, you shouldn't have trouble avoiding caffeine. Keeping caffeine out of your diet helps you avoid the side effects of this substance. It's possible to develop a caffeine dependence that can be difficult to break without uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as headaches. The intake of caffeine can also lead to unwanted side effects, such as trouble falling asleep at night.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Coffee by the Numbers
- MedlinePlus: Caffeine in the Diet
- Dietitians of Canada: Food Sources of Caffeine
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Milk, Chocolate, Fluid, Commercial, Reduced Fat, With Added Vitamin A and Vitamin D