A lot of us are used to starting our day with a hot cup of coffee or tea. For me, drinking coffee and visiting with my Father is the favorite part of my day. For decades I’ve had “Jesus and java” as the first part of my morning. So not drinking coffee during the Daniel Fast is challenging for me, even after all these years of fasting.
But the is another part of giving up coffee and other caffeinated beverages and foods that we need to address. And that is the withdrawals that can be debilitating unless we taper off the substance before the fast begins. So if you are starting the Daniel Fast soon, I encourage you to start now saying ‘bye-bye’ to caffeine. Here are a few steps you can follow to minimize your withdrawals – and by the way, even if you drink only one cup a day you may still experience serious withdrawals. These can be from light to severe headaches, leg cramps, muscle aches and mild to extreme fatigue. It’s worth tapering off caffeine before you begin your fast if you want to avoid the withdrawal symptoms.
Four to five days before your fast begins, start substituting some of your regular coffee (or tea) for decaffeinated varieties. Start with 25 percent decaf to 75 percent regular. Then the next day about a 40 percent decaf to 60 percent regular. The next day try a 50/50 blend. Then go 75/25. And do that again for another day or start your fast, depending on the amount of time you have.
All along, drink more water throughout the day. Try to drink at least four tall glasses of water (16 ounces each) during the day. You might also try increasing potassium-rich foods in your diet including bananas and cantaloupe. Get lots of rest and be aware that you are literally tapering off a natural drug.
If you drink sodas with caffeine, use a similar strategy by substituting non-caffeinated sodas with caffeine-free varieties. And remember, there are some foods that include caffeine, such as cocoa powders and chocolate.
You will be very happy you’ve taken these measures when you don’t experience the excruciating headaches and withdrawals that some people who go “cold turkey” and don’t taper off before they fast.
One more note, when you complete your fast, the first thing you might want to drink is a cup of rich, dark, caffeinated coffee. But remember, your body has been free of the substance for 21 days. So go easy. If not, you may experience jitters and rushes from the caffeine.