There is nothing better than sitting down to take a moment in a busy day with a hot cuppa. Sometimes it's just the act of taking time out that helps to reset your stress levels. What's your favourite hot drink for winter? While coffee and tea are favourites for many, the extra stimulation of caffeine is not always the best, especially if you experience a racing heart-beat, anxiety or sleep problems!
Sugar can also be a problematic part of the tea and coffee ritual, as sweet treats are often enjoyed at the same time, whether or not you sweeten your drinks. If you are wanting to reduce the impact of sugar or caffeine I recommend finding an alternative first and then changing your habits little by little. This is particularly important with caffeine withdrawal – try substituting every second cup of tea or coffee with a non-caffeinated cuppa. Cutting out caffeine cold turkey can be pretty uncomfortable, so the slower withdrawal is generally recommended.
Warming spices through the colder months are a great way to increase heat and circulation. Or if you have a colder disposition and tend towards cold hands and feet even in summer, why not enjoy a cup all year-round? They also have therapeutic benefits for blood sugar control (cinnamon and stevia), inflammation (turmeric and ginger) and your digestion (ginger, turmeric and cacao). A cuppa can be time to enjoy a moment to breathe and centre as part of your daily self-care. Try these options for yourself!
Chai Spice Mix
This is a lovely alternative to the commercial chai powders that usually contain powdered caffeinated tea and a healthy dose of sugars. If you do want to sweeten this one, you get to control how much you put in there or substitute for a herbal sweetener like Stevia.
Stevia is one of my favourite sweeteners. It doesn't spike your blood sugar or have an inflammatory influence on insulin the way most artificial sweeteners do. There is some evidence to suggest it may also help with insulin sensitivity. And it only takes a tiny amount to sweeten your hot drinks.
I did a bit of an experiment and found this was a lovely blend – courtesy of https://bargainmums.com.au/easy-chai-spice-mix-powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon cardamom powder
- 1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon clove powder
Add a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the spice mix, a tiny dust of stevia powder or a little honey, hot water and milk of your choice. Perfect warming winter treat!
Change it up: You can also add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to your cup – one of nature's herbs that is a tonic for the liver and also anti-inflammatory.
Or, why not combine with the mood boosting benefits of raw cocao, for a chocolatey-chai sensation!
This is a really simple, no nasties way to get all the benefits of raw cacao. Simply pop in a teaspoon of raw cacao, hot water and milk of your choice. For an extra tasty variation, zest a little orange rind into your cup – jaffa hot chocolate!
I like the bitter taste of the cacao but you might like to add a tiny pinch of stevia powder to taste.
Remember, chocolate has caffeine-like components, so it can be a little stimulating. Avoid having this one in the afternoon and evening if you are experiencing poor sleep.
A naturopathic favourite! Hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice is not only a satisfying cuppa, it also has digestive benefits.
Bitter and sour foods stimulate digestion and prepares your body to break-down and utilise your meals, via the taste-receptors on your tongue.
Modern styles of eating, involving convenience and on the go foods often lead to our taste buds being trained to only accept sweet and salty flavours. Getting to know more bitter tastes is a good way to round out your palette and one of the tips we use to reduce indigestion and bloating.
If you are having digestive symptoms and you want to explore more ways to make your tummy happy, make a time to chat with your naturopath today.