Kicking the coffee habit
A few months ago, Y., a close friend of mine, decided to kick his coffee habit. The decision was preceded by a lengthy period of preparation, in which he informed everyone that giving up coffee would be no problem for him. No big deal.
In the past eight years Y. drank at least 14 cups of coffee a day. All the waiters in the cafe that is situated between his home and his place of work knew him by name; customers gave him friendly waves whenever he came in to fuel up. Even before he sat down his coffee, extra strong, waited for him on the bar at exactly the temperature he liked.
Sometimes, at night, I tagged along with him for a last tank-up and would be treated to a speech in praise of coffee: Look at yourself, he'd say. It's only 11 and you're already tired, your day is already over, but I am just starting to have a good time. You don't have a drop of energy; you have to find a solution for your situation.
He launched his withdrawal program on a Tuesday. On the first day he drank only 12 cups of coffee. The next day, strengthened by the victory of the day before, he went down to seven cups. He called me about 20 times to boast about how simple and easy it was for him to end his relationship with coffee. Listen, he said. When I feel like it I drink and when I feel like it I stop - I drank because I enjoyed it and the moment I decided against it, I stopped.
During the period of my transition to healthful food I experienced a few failures when I tried to give up coffee. I was able to part with all the other foods easily enough. But not coffee. My "habit" involved no more than two cups in the morning. Every evening I would tell myself that from the next day I would give up coffee, but in the morning I rushed to the machine.
So when Y. spoke about how easy it was for him to give up coffee pretty much instantly, I replied that withdrawal is likely a process that is influenced by many factors and therefore each person experiences it differently. It was 11 P.M.; I tried to be articulate, but it was too late for that.
We called his name, but instead of an answer we heard frightening gasps from the direction of the lavatory. So frightening that we rushed to him. Y. was lying on the floor. I will not invade his privacy by relating what he was doing there.
Y. was in bed for seven days, suffering from vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, trembling, headaches and stomach spasms. He ate nothing and barely drank anything. When he had to get out of bed for urgent matters, he drank a little coffee. He did not give it up. He cut his daily 14+ cups to four at most - the first on the way to work, the last on the way home.
Y.'s story illustrates how difficult, and perhaps also excessive, it is to give up coffee altogether when life is so busy and hectic. Maybe in an ideal world, on a green hilltop, without stressful competition, without bad news, it would be a lot easier to live without coffee.
I admit that I have a cup every few months, and I enjoy it.
By Rachel Talshirwww.haaretz.com