One Week

February 6, 2009

How long can you go without eating or drinking something you really enjoy?

In saying “something you really enjoy”, I mean something you really, really, really love.  For instance, if someone were to ask you what food could you not live without, what would your answer be.  Alright,  you don’t have to start with you’re top choice, what about you’re third favorite thing.  What would that be?  Oh, and by the way, once you answer, are you able to honestly say that this particular food is vital to your nutritional health.  This is where the debate ensues.  Who is to base what is ‘nutrtitional’ for whom.  But for all intents and purposes, lets just say that in this case we are refering to scientific nutrients.  Beyond that is a conversation for a later time.

So what would your answer be?  Recently, I took it upon myself to refrain from consuming a food/beverage I really enjoy.  Coffee.  I wanted to do a little experiment on how coffee effects me.  And due to the fact that I drank coffee regularly (10-12 oz, approx 5 days/week for several years) the best way for me to gauge it’s effects would be to in fact cease my consumption of it. And then add it back in.  I wanted to see how the effects of this particular substance, having become a staple of my regular diet, were interacting within me specifically.  I had read numerous things about coffee over the years, but how does it effect me individually.  Well, first let me share some of the knowledge I had come across.

As you may know coffee contains caffeine.  And caffeine is a psychotropic drug.  It acts upon the central nervous system causing temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behavior.  Beverages containing caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks) reduce physical fatigue and restore mental alertness.  Many of us know this from experience.  The reason this happens is because caffeine readily crosses the blood-brain barrier that separates the bloodstream from the interior of the brain.  Once in the brain, because of it’s similar molecular structure to a neurotransmitter called adenosine, caffeine binds to adenosine receptors.  But caffeine does not activiate them, and therefore acts as an inhibitor.  The effect of this is what causes us to be more alert.

So this is some of the scientific reasoning behind it.  But one would be able to sense these effects without such knowledge.  Experimental use (and cessation) of a given substance would ilicit sensations, and then one can assess the results.  This my friends is the challenge I pose to each of you.  Why not just try it.  Pick one food or beverage that you consume on a regular basis, that you believe might not be contributing to your optimum health and refrain from consuming it for one week.  Heck, aim for two weeks.

That’s what I did.  I decided to go for two weeks with my coffee experiment.  It wasn’t until about one week of not consuming it that I realized, not only did I have just as good of focus and alertness during the day, but I was sleeping much better at night.  I wasn’t sleeping terribly while drinking coffee, but I knew there was room for improvement.  And in doing this experiment, I made some of that improvement.  I also noticed today, that after consuming 10 oz of coffee, I had peak alertness for an hour or so, followed by a tension headache about 3 hrs later.  Now as I’m writing this I cannot attribute my focus as being any better than when I wrote my previous entry (which was written having not had coffee)  While I can still subtly feel the headache waning.  Was it worth it?  Let me just say, I forsee tomorrow being a more productive day without it.

So experiment?  Pick something, eliminate it for one week, possibly two.  Notice the effects it has on your body, physically and mentally.  Does it effect your mood and your perceptions, your concentration or behavior.  You be your own judge.  And in determining if such things are addictive, well then I guess you can say for yourself.  This is not about deprivation, but exploration.  You can learn something about yourself.   Have fun with it, why not?

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