Make a list of all the foods you love – not the foods you merely pretend to love because it looks good on your resume – but the foods you truly adore. Things like pizza, chips and cheese, sweet and salty faux granola bars, waffles smeared with peanut butter. Now give them all up for 30 days.

That’s about the gist of this eat-healthy, detox eating plan I’m on. Thirty days isn’t eternity, so giving up those foods hasn’t been all that horrendous (save for the tantrum I had one night when my boyfriend got to eat tacos and I didn’t). Taco incident aside, I was handling it without too much anguish, fanfare or pain.

But then my nutrition coach pal alerted me that the detox plan also included giving up coffee.

A tinge of horror skittered down my spine. I wanted to scream. So I did.

How much is too much coffee?

I quickly ran back to the original online info I had found about this detox eating plan and saw, sure enough, coffee was on the list. But I noticed a loophole. It wasn’t on the “avoid” list. It was on the “limit” list. I figured I’d “limit” my coffee intake to one pot per day, down from two pots per day, and be done with it.

Besides, products recommended with the healthy eating plan included these Energy Fizz Sticks that remind me of Emergen-C on steroids. One gave me a MIGHTY boost when I downed it after my “limited’ morning quota of coffee. I was pepped up, revved up and bouncing off the walls.

That’s when my nutrition pal told me you’re supposed to drink the Energy Fizz Sticks INSTEAD of coffee – not on top of it. Oh.

The coffee-free decision

After clawing and scratching my way through a little more than a week with a “limited” pot of coffee per day, I finally acquiesced to giving up coffee altogether for the remainder of the eating plan. It was only 20 more days.

I could still drink things like Energy Fizz Sticks and green tea. And my nutrition pal alerted me to Dandy Blend, a natural, stimulating herbal coffee alternative made from dandelion, chicory and beet roots combined with rye and barley grains. Yum.

I liked the name, so I tried it. I told myself I’d love it. So I did.

The coffee withdrawal begins

Day one without coffee started out OK. I had my Dandy Blend. I had my fizz stick. But I also had a caffeine-withdrawal headache by 10 a.m. Green tea helped, as did praying to the coffee-free angels to please take my headache away. You know there are angels for everything, right?

Day two was similar to day one, except my beau decided to brew an enticingly aromatic so-fresh-you-can-taste-it pot of cherry vanilla coffee right about the same time my caffeine-withdrawal headache hit. I suppressed my urge to stab him with a letter opener. Then went outside to sip green tea.

Day three and four were actually pretty pleasant. No coffee for four days, but plenty of sleep, non-tense shoulder muscles upon waking, and all the Dandy Blend I could drink. The Dandy Blend site says you can drink as many cups as you wish without fear of overdose. (Believe me, you want to stop after about three.)

By day five, I was dying. Not only could I barely scrape myself out of bed, but my usual 15-minute morning meditation somehow turned into a 90-minute nap. I was weak. Fatigued. Disinterested. And barely powerful enough to move my laptop from my home office to the kitchen.

I trudged on in that manner – miserable and semi-conscious – until afternoon nap time. But when I lied down to sleep, I found I couldn’t. Dammit. No energy. No ability to nap. And the freaking headache was back. That’s when I had an epiphanette, which I shall call the Dini Effect.

The ‘Dini Effect’

Dini was one of my beloved dogs who absolutely HATED having her nails clipped. The mere sight of the clipper, and later the Pedi Paw nail grinder, had her hiding in her dog igloo for a week.

The one time we had her nails professionally clipped, it took five people to hold her down – and a sixth to make us promise never to bring her back for another clipping. The stress and anguish she experienced over nail clippings were worse than letting her nails grow too long.

The Dini Effect thus posits:

If something that’s supposed to be good for you causes more harm trying to achieve it than the benefits of achieving it, then to hell with it.

In my case, the act of entirely giving up coffee was causing more harm than being coffee-free for 20 days. So to hell with it.

I’m back on the “limited” coffee quota, but will shoot for two cups per day instead of a whole pot. At the very least, this experiment has helped me establish a healthier coffee drinking habit, rather than an overloaded coffee guzzling obsession. It also introduced me to the joy of a hot cup of Dandy Blend, followed by an energy boosting fizz stick.

Want more common-sense fixes for life situations? Check out the Little Book of Big Jerks.

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