Struggling with coffee dependence? Let's face it, old habits die hard. Many of us can trace our fondness for the aroma of coffee in the morning all the way back to childhood since our parents were hooked, too!

When you get past the nostalgia, there's a bigger picture to consider. Coffee has little or no nutritional value. In fact, if you're not drinking decaf, even the hydration you get from a cup of joe is negligible. Besides the jittery, heart-racing side effects of caffeine, many people find that the strong flavor of coffee stimulates acid reflux. That's no way to start a day.

Coffee alternatives are numerous. Here are just three that might fit the bill.

1) Tea, another look
You've probably heard about a major benefit of drinking green tea: antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that capture free radicals, by-products left over when your body breaks down food and contaminants. Antioxidants help to prevent disease by keeping those free radicals from infiltrating and damaging healthy cells. Black and green teas have antioxidants, but green tea is especially rich in polyphenols, the antioxidants useful in preventing many types of cancer. Research has also suggested that green tea soothes inflammation associated with digestive disorders, and at least one study found that diabetics who drank green tea were had more stable blood sugar levels.

If you don't like the flavor of green or black tea, don't give up. Many herbal teas also boast health benefits. Rooibos tea is full of antioxidants. Ginger tea can ease inflammation and stave off nausea. And chamomile and peppermint teas soothe stomach upset and have a calming effect--perfect when you're about to face a morning commute!

2) Hot lemonade
Sound strange? You won't find it on most breakfast menus, but if you suffer from early-morning sinus trouble, hot lemonade just might be the coffee alternative for you. Steamy heat helps to open sinus passages, and lemon contains natural antihistamines which can help fight allergic reactions. Add a spoonful of unpasteurized local honey, another allergen-fighter, to "sweeten" the deal.

3) Fruit or veggie juices
Juices are an early-morning tradition for good reason. Packed with vitamins, these simple drinks have far more nutritional value than any coffee. And while it's not a good idea to run out the door without breakfast, in that rare case when it's necessary, a glass of juice will provide some of the missing calories that coffee can't.

Don't limit yourself to orange. Experiment with different single juices or juice blends. Just be sure to look for an organic variety with no added salt or sugar. Tomato juice can be very acidic. If this bothers you, mix in a bit of sugar or honey to neutralize it--but add that pinch yourself so you know exactly how much you're getting. And remember, there's no reason you have to drink juice cold. If coffee's appeal for you is heat, try warming up carrot or tomato juice. (Don't boil as excessive heat destroys vitamins.)

Coffee dependence is like any other habit. It will take time and will-power to break out of the cycle. But you have the upper hand because you don't have to feel deprived. Take the time to try out alternatives until you find one--or more!--you like. Your good health is worth the effort.

Author's Bio: 

Roberta Roberts Mittman, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., M.S., is a nutritional and lifestyle consultant, holistic mindset mentor, and nationally board-certified acupuncturist. Using natural, drug-free techniques, Roberta opens the door to complete mind-body health. Roberta believes in empowering individuals to be their own best healers. Ready to take that step? Call 212-686-0939, or visit online at