Thursday, March 27, 2008

Coffee and Cheese

I cut caffeine and dairy from my diet when I was 23 years old. I'd been having a lot of chronic health problems, which I suspected might result from food sensitivities, so I went for tests.

At the testing facility, the technician sat me in an elevated chair. She gave me a metal rod wrapped in a wet cloth and attached to a wire to hold in one hand. She took my other hand, and pressed a second metal rod against an accupressure point. Then the machine ran a slight current through me and through vials containing around 230 different foods, in sequence. A change in the electrical current indicated whether or not I had a sensitivity to the foods.

Does this sound like a bogus sci-fi rip-off? I wasn't sure, myself, but considering I paid around $100 for the test, I figured I'd better give the results a chance to prove themselves.

The worst offenders on the list were dairy products, caffeine, MSG, all forms of alcohol, and bananas. I never much liked bananas anyway.

In the spirit of science, I cut all of these out of my diet. I decided to give things a test run of at least three months, because apparently it takes a while for one's system to fully jettison the accumulated residues, and adjust to the new plan.

I found out some interesting facts. For example, in high school I had heart palpitations so distressing that once I wore a heart monitor for 24 hours to check for a serious cardiac problem. Turns out that the cup of strong, black tea my mom had fortified me with at every breakfast was the culprit. To my sensitive system, caffeine was like speed. That also explained why I had no appetite in high school.

I found that having a perpetually drippy nose and acne breakouts was not inherent in my biology. I stopped eating dairy products and, whoops! My skin cleared right up. I no long needed to keep tissues wadded up in my sleeves. Huzzah!

I honestly didn't miss alcohol, because I was a geek, and my crowd didn't drink.

The positive effects of changing my diet were so welcome that I stuck to all the restrictions, for the most part, for 13 years. Which brings me to last month.

Tectonic plates had been shifting under the oceans of my mind. And one day, I snapped.

I was at Sneaky Dee's when the busy waitress brought me a cup of coffee instead of the orange juice I'd asked for. She clunked it down in front of me and was gone at a sprint.

I sat back and stared at the coffee. The inky brown was inviting. It smelled good. I wanted that freaking coffee. I might have said aloud "I'm going to drink this coffee!". Then I put in two creams and a whole packet of sugar, and took a sip.

It was the best coffee humankind has ever experienced, or ever will. In fact, it might have been the best of anything, anywhere, in all of time.

I drank it a bit gingerly, in smalls sips, with water as a chaser, and not on an empty stomach. Then I waited to have my heart attack. But I was fine! I guess, 20 years down the road, my metabolism is no longer so naturally hyper that it can be pushed into overdrive by one cup of coffee. Yahoo! Caffeine and me, we broke up long ago, but now we're friends again, and I feel that a painful rift in my life has been healed.

And today? Today I ate a slice of cheese (fearfully), and waited for nausea to strike. But I was fine! Not even one sneeze! I see big things for me and dairy in my future. Soft serve from an ice cream truck? Could be in the cards! I'll take it slow at first, but if it goes OK, I'll be off and running. Life's too short. I want to enjoy everything.

Ed. Note: In anticipation of the obvious questions, my problem with diary is not lactose intolerance, so lactaid and/or lactose-free products never did me any good. It's all about the proteins, FYI. Digestive enzymes do help, and I do take them regularly.


unsigned said...

Don't eat too much cheese. You'll get all fat and oily and no man will want you. You'll be sad and alone drinking coffee and farting. You'll raise your arms to the sky and cry out...


Why have you forsaken me!?!

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Just pace yourself on the coffee and cheese. It might take the 3 months to get back in your system and start causing you problems, but with that said YAY!! Cheese is good and caffiene is good.

whatigotsofar said...

Does this sound like a bogus sci-fi rip-off? Yes!

When I was a child, I was told by the team of medical professionals with files on me that I was allergic to milk. Not lactose intollerant, but allergic to milk. I had to cut out milk, ice cream, butter, all that wonderful dairy stuff. It seemed that the rash up and down my arms and horribly dry skin was caused by dairy products. I cut down the intake. I switched to soy milk at home in my tea and baking. Stuff like that, but there was one thing I could never give up.
I'm a guy, I don't need pretty and silky smooth hands. The occasional tiny welt or sore or scab on a finger or two is torable by me. But if another doctor tries to take butter away from, I will kill him. Then I'll cook and eat him piece by piece by dipping every mouthful into melted butter. Butter is the greatest thing to ever enter my mouth!


I think you struck a nerve, Spark.

whatigotsofar said...

Lemme clarify myself a bit. I'm not a cannibal. I'm not endorsing murder and voluntary cannibalism. I just will not let anybody take butter out of my diet.

PixieVonAzia said...

How can you not like bananas?

$100 dollars to let you know that all the good things are bad for you? Well I hope you wont be craving cheese later on =)

P.S When I get a chance I will add pictures of my makeup haul=)

Nilsa S. said...

I have gone through bouts of cutting soda out of my diet (I don't drink coffee). I've been going strong since the beginning of the year and feel much better and more awake than I ever did drinking it. My fiance and I also recently switched from milk to soy milk. We've heard lots of negative things about milk. I'm about to start reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. Supposed to be interesting stuff.

jameil1922 said...

just when i was thinking i might need to get one of those tests you tell me you're getting it all again! love it. i've become such an adventurous food person that i think i'll just suffer through whatever issues i'm not paying attention to that might be making me ill... is that bad? lol.

Sparkling Red said...

Unsigned: I'll try to keep my cheese-eating under control.

Ron: Yes, that is a distinct possibility. If that's the case, then I'll enjoy it while it lasts, and then I'll go back to my life of monastic deprivation. :-(

Whatigotsofar: Far be it from me to stand between a man and his butter!
I had a feeling you weren't really a cannibal. That's the kind of thing that probably would have come up in your blog posts. Like, "My dad made spaghetti, but I didn't want it, so I ate my brother-in-law instead." That kind of thing.

Pixie Von Azia: Every once in a while I'm in the mood for a banana. Especially when it's covered in dark chocolate and sliced into a warm crepe. Mmmm....

Nilsa: Food choices are so confusing. There's almost always one side telling you that X is terrible for you, and another side telling you that X has all these health benefits. For example, caffeine supposedly protects the brain from dementia, according to the most recent research. Next year it will be bad again. Who knows?
I do agree with you regarding soda. I don't think it has any redeeming qualities. I rarely drink it myself.

R.E.H. said...

Oh, my! I count my blessings that I am not allergic or sensitive to anything.

It seems everyone has got to cut something out from their diet, becuase it makes them feel bad in one way or another.

At least you are getting your coffee back - I don't know how I would survive without my coffee ;)

Tequila Mockingbird said...

HOOORAY!!!! id be so sad if i had to give up my morning yogurt w/ granola and/or bananas. also, i couldnt live without my diet dr pepper!

whatigotsofar said...

I don't have a brother-in-law, anymore...

Aurora said...

Isn't it funny when our body turns out not to be "just that way" after all, and instead it's something we've eaten or done to it to cause that. I think we have this knowledge buried within our cells but... it's not conscious.

Nicole said...

Yeah for coffee and cheese :D
I couldn't imagine living without all those things you mentioned.
Unquestionable, it would be better for my health and my weight if I would cut down on a few things.... oh well...

1218Blog said...

I've never drank coffee so giving that up would be no problem. But I love cheese! Even though cheese almost killed me the other day, I still love it. I couldn't give it up.

Tink said...

I'd rather give up having toes than live without coffee. Coffeeeee!

Sparkling Red said...

R.E.H.: Yeah, that's true. Just about everyone I know has dietary restrictions based on allergies, politics, religion, or strong preferences. It makes dinner parties a bit complicated.

Tequila Mockingbird: Mmm... I love granola with yogurt. I haven't eaten that since the mid-1990's.

Aurora: Don't you wish that the body could give its messages a little more directly? There's a lot of detective work in figuring out what's what.

Nicole: A little bit of what you love does you good. ;-)

1218blog: I know a few cheese addicts. I wonder if there's a 12-step program for cheese? ;-)

Tink: Wow, that's serious! I'm trying to think if there's anything I would give up my toes for. Yes! I would give them up for my internet connection.

Sparkling Red said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenski said...

I don't know if I would be able to finish grad school without coffee. I'm happy for you. :)