My sensitivity to caffeine has been the bane of my existence. Seriously. I love coffee—the smell, the taste. I worked in coffee shops throughout college and actually had fun making all the fussy drinks. But whenever I drink the stuff, just a little gets me incredibly wired for a really long time. Half a cup of joe at 8 in the morning? Probably not going to sleep until the following morning. When friends want to meet up at coffee shops, I’m stuck with stale, weak, bitter decaf and a good deal of eye rolling from the barista. Of course there are other options on the menu, but herbal tea just isn’t what I want.

And it’s not just coffee. A little soda as a drink mixer? It’s not the alcohol buzz I’m worried about. A square of dark chocolate for dessert? Not if I want to be a groggy mess the next day. On days when I could really use a pick-me-up, I have to weigh the consequences: being caffeinated today means being sleepy tomorrow, and the cycle continues.

Limiting the amount of caffeine I consume has never been the problem; it’s how to stay energized without it. Luckily there are plenty of whole foods that have the slowly digested protein and complex carbs to keep me going. Working out in the morning tends to give me a big boost, as does a quick mid-morning or afternoon lap for a few gulps of, you guessed it, fresh air.

Tell Us: How do you get energized without caffeine?

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