Life Without Coffee: One Man’s Nightmare is Another Man’s Peace
by Bob Lattanzio
THREE WEEKS, 6 DAYS, 6 HOURS AND 43 MINUTES. That’s how long it’s been since my last cup of coffee. Not that I’ve been thinking about it. Okay, maybe a little. I used to drink coffee every day. One or two cups with breakfast, another cup at work, sometimes a cup at a cafe.
The odyssey began a little over a month ago, when my doctor recommended that I see an acupuncturist for the bursitis in my shoulder. Physical therapy had helped in the past, but the pain still flared up from time to time. So off I went.
I lay down on the acupuncturist’s table and she asked me if I’d ever done this before. “No”, I said, “but needles don’t really bother me as long as I don’t watch them go in.” Tap. In went a needle. Tap. Tap. Tap. In went a few more. Some hurt a little, most I barely felt.
As she continued her work, she started to tell me about acupuncture points, and the way different parts of the body are connected. Tap. Tap. She asked me about my eating habits. “Do you eat red meat?” “Yes, but very infrequently.” “What about dairy?” “Sure, yogurt and cheese.” “Well, I want you to stop eating those for one month to help reduce inflammation in your body.” “What?” She sure is taking this holistic thing seriously, I thought. Tap. Tap. “And in one month, after feeling the benefits of this diet, you’ll want to continue it.” The list went on — no refined sugars, white flour, or alcohol. Tap. No chocolate, strawberries, or citrus. Tap. Tap. No eggplant, garlic or tomatoes, particularly cooked tomatoes. “Hmm,” I wondered to myself, “what would my Italian grandmothers think about that?”
“Do you drink coffee?” “Yes, every day.” “Well you should stop that too, it has caffeine.” “What about decaf?” “No decaf either, even decaf has some caffeine.” TAP. TAP. TAP. She left me alone to relax, needles protruding from my body. All I could think about was the coffee I drank just half an hour earlier.
Have I unfailingly followed this diet? No, I’ve cheated or slipped up here and there. But I’ve substantially reduced my intake of all these foods, and in the case of coffee stopped it completely. At first it was incredibly difficult, but the intensity and frequency of the craving has subsided over the last few weeks. Has it made a difference? Well, in the last month my sleep has improved, my blood pressure has dropped, and the pain in my shoulder has faded substantially.
Since my first visit, the acupuncturist has softened her stance on the diet. Occasional lapses, perhaps once a week, are okay. My body will let me know when I’ve strayed too far. Tomorrow morning the month is up. Now I just need to decide — will I start the day with a cup of coffee?