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The Caffeine Withdrawal Diaries Part 2

Posted Aug 01 2013 6:32am

My previous post was about caffeine withdrawal.

But then I stumbled on to some research that shows that, while some coffee is certainly OK while dieting, the amount of coffee *I* drank – and I know a lot of people consume coffee in stupendous amounts – might be bad.

I need to investigate this further, but first let me conclude Day 10 from the last post

Day 10 – Friday, 7/26/13

The rest of the day did not go well in terms of coffee or eating. There was a working lunch and pizza was served. I decided to tough it out – I had cheese and yogurt in the fridge and would have that after the meeting.

Once the meeting was done I passed the room where the pizza was – and crumpled like a cheap suit. I had 3 slices, telling myself that they were the veggie-covered pizza and so it might be good for me, at which another part of me laughed at my pathetic excuse.

This pizza did me no good. I felt sick – and the carbs made me so tired, most likely from the blood sugar spike then drop.

I was NOT going to make it through the afternoon without coffee – but I had already drank my allotted amount.

Decaf was out – I needed CAFFEINE – not coffee.

So I made another pot and had maybe one more 16 oz cup. It had amazing restorative powers. I went for the remaining cup and brought it back to my office, but stopped myself and didn’t drink it.

Another evening of crap eating ensued when I got home. It’s difficult to count these evenings – so I didn’t. Offhand I had 3 slices of pizza, a Chinese sweet bun filled with sweet bean paste, 2 hot dogs, and some seltzer. If I were to tally the numbers – if I had any idea what a Chinese sweet bun runs – I’d probably be in the caloric neighborhood of 2,000 and my carbs between 150 and 200.

Day 11 – Saturday, 7/27/13 – 205.4

I gained a pound, which I was not upset about. Given how I have been eating – and the lack of caffeine and nicotine – to be able to maintain so far I consider a success.

But now I would like to actually lose this last 20 pounds I keep poking at.

Perhaps the reduction in the coffee will help in this? I hadn’t considered this before (as mentioned, the thought of reducing coffee was crazytalk before 2 weeks ago) but perhaps this might help? We’ll see.

I tried to go as long as possible without caffeine. I had a decaf coffee in the AM, and held out until about 4:30pm when I bought another Dunkin Donuts extra-large caffeinated coffee with cream. I nursed this coffee the rest of the day, finishing it near 9pm.

I am ‘between’ something. I no longer feel ‘right’ with caffeine, I don’t feel right with decaf. It’s an odd situation. I was slightly repulsed to my caffeinated coffee, even though it made me feel more normal.

As to eating, I did stay mostly low carb most of the day. In the evening we went to a Korean restaurant near Edison, New Jersey. Among other things, we had Bo Ssam, which is stewed pork belly served with pickled radishes, kimchi, and various spicy paste concoctions. The nice owner showed the clueless Caucasian (Me) how to put a piece of cabbage on the plate first, top with a slice of the pork belly, top with some paste and radishes, and eat. As I like to try different things (I almost went for the goat stew because I have never eaten goat), it was great fun – and I would order it again.

Not my picture - Thanks, Su-Lin on Flickr

Not my picture but the same dish – Thanks, Su-Lin on Flickr

I  am not going to even try to calculate – because I don’t want to, not because it would be a bad number. I steered clear of the rice and had mostly vegetables and meat, so the meal wasn’t a problem. At home I had some sorbet and chocolate but even that wasn’t all that much.

I hit the sack at 10.

Day 12 – Sunday, 7/28/13 – 207.4

I didn’t expect the jump in weight. I had stuck to the meat and veggies. I did drink a lot of water so maybe I’m retaining a lot of it.

While I don’t attribute it to the weight gain, I woke in a somewhat foul mood. Perhaps lack of coffee. Regardless, I again wanted to see how long I could go without the stuff. In the meantime, in my classic ‘what-the-fuck’ mood, I ate whatever – not caring.

Besides some housework, it was a quiet day. I took a nap, read, listened to some audiobooks (finishing ‘ True Enough ‘ and starting ‘ Predictably Irrational ‘ for the curious) and did some bills.

I also worked on keeping my grump on, making no effort to snap out of it.

I’m attributing the majority of this to the coffee – or lack thereof. Still – I’m curious is there’s something interesting to be found on the other side of this withdrawal.

What I’ve noticed is that my love affair with coffee has cooled. Decaf is doing this, I think. Imagine a loved one being replaced by someone who looked just like them – and you’re supposed to treat them like your loved one. Yeah – I know an addiction with a caffeine molecule is not the same as trying to establish a deep relationship with your beloved Uncle Ernie’s Doppelgänger, but I myself am at a loss for words to explain my feeling towards coffee at present.

I had my first coffee – a tiny, pathetic and effeminate  6 ounce cup at about 5pm. My daughter looked at my cup: “Is that coffee?”

“Yep.”

“That’s tiny.”

“Yep.”

“Is that the first coffee you’ve had today?”

“Yep.”

“No wonder you’re so tired.”

“Yep.”

Not drinking coffee has also impacted my conversational skills, obviously. In fact, some part of me is concerned that some of my better writing is induced by a jacked-up coffee binge – that I am a low-rent caffeinated low carb version of Hunter S. Thompson without the ether, LSD and cigarette holder.

I allotted myself 4 of these dinky little cup but could only stomach 3. I ate whatever I wanted, however.

I’m doing OK – pretty good, actually, on the coffee.

Diet? Not so OK.

Day 13 – Monday, 7/29/13 

I did not weigh myself this particular morning. I also,as is now the norm, did not have coffee in the AM before work, though I was mildly tempted by the remains from last night still in the pot.

Being a work day I was back to the one high-octane cup when I first got to work, then make a half-pot of decaf on top of the remaining caffeinated coffee, except this week I brought in cream to, well, ease the pain. I used to enjoy my coffee black, but that’s because it rewarded me with a buzz. The no-buzz coffee is too pathetic to drink black, so the cream is my consolation prize.

I am not even sure that the decaf is of any help: the article I linked to in my last caffeine withdrawal diary made the point that it isn’t caffeine in high amounts that might cause obesity, but another molecule entirely: chlorogenic acid.

Now…what the HELL is chlorogenic acid?

Well, according to Wikipedia , it is an antioxidant, which used to be considered totally good, until some people pointed out that too much of a good thing might not be good  and too many antioxidants might just increase the incidence of cancer and diabetes.

It is found not only in coffee, but in peaches, prunes and bamboo. It also might have blood pressure-lowering effects as well as a laxative effect, according to Wikipedia.

It doesn’t sound all that bad (except for that annoying antioxident-cancer thing) – right? Well, not according to the article in the Daily Mail . Again, it comes down to dose. While the article mentions that coffee in moderation – 4 cups or less, can possible reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, help with weight loss, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, decrease the risk of dementia by 60 percent and Parkinson’s disease by 60%, above that 4 cup limit it can increase insulin resistance and possibly increase the risk for diabetes.

As the Daily Mail article states, chlorogenic acid does not get removed from decaffeinated coffee, so if you guzzle down decaf you are still exposed.

As always, I am suspect of journalists bearing science stories about nutrition, so take it with a grain of salt – or a lot of salt as a lot of research is showing that salt might not be bad for you .

So all this sciency stuff comes back to Mom’s age-old wisdom: moderation in all things.

I wish I could say that this moderation was the case, but the diet – at least in the evenings – has been a total fail. I have been quite good on the zero nicotine and the 4 cups of coffee a day, but the diet? Hahahahahahaha!

Just for the hell of it, I am going to try to piece together the abysmal eating from last night – somewhat typical of the week.

I had 2 hot dogs on regular buns. I had low carb bread and could have substituted – but didn’t. I also had 1/2 cup of rice with soy sauce, some Lindt chocolate – maybe 3 ounces, some potato chips – again a few ounces, a peach and a plum, a 6 ounce cup of the kid’s berry granola cereal with milk, some leftovers from the Korean restaurant, and there must have been other things I don’t recall as I felt like an eating machine.

This was going to leave a mark – I was sure of it.

Day 14 – Tuesday, 7/30/13  - 211.0

Whohoo! Quite an impressive weight gain if I do say so myself! You’ve got to have some respect for a Big Fail. Mediocrity is boring – it’s the reaching for the brass ring of success AND failure that is interesting.

I am still doing well, though I feel in a limbo between loving and hating coffee now. I still have my 2 mugs – 4 cups, though today I decided to skip the diluted stuff, drink both mugs one right after the other black – then switch to decaf with cream.

Despite the big fail on the diet front, I have been doing good on the caffeine – and the last time I stopped the nicotine lozenges was traumatic – this time I just stopped – again, my preoccupation with the coffee withdrawal perhaps masked the nicotine withdrawal.

Regardless, if I exit out the other side of this with my sanity intact, I will have ditched nicotine as a habit (I SWEAR no more experimenting here!), turned coffee into a drink of moderation, will get back to the diet most assuredly, and have the potential to stop my blood pressure medication, which would be a shiny object for me as I try to avoid any medications I don’t absolutely need – and stopping the BP meds – if I lose weight and keep the coffee moderate – is not impossible.

Day 15 – Wednesday, 7/31/13 – 209.1

The routine now is: guzzle my half pot in 2 mugs, then muddle through the day on decaf Bleah. I’m doing it – I have stuck to my guns and am getting  used to huge swaths of decafinated me – which is proving I CAN actually function, somewhat, without the stuff. I can actually think straight, but without the sparkly unicorn fairly dust of a magical coffee aura to add that extra magic.

I’m hoping for a benefit from this: the ability to stop blood pressure meds. I might be too fat and eating too many carbs for that, but a combination of cutting way back on coffee and a low carb diet – and resulting weight loss – might do the trick.

We’ll have to see on that one. I’ve got my blood pressure monitor and will get a baseline reading tomorrow – and after the birthday celebration on this night where friends came over and a good tie was had, it’s back to hard-core ketogenic low carb tomorrow.

To be continued…

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