Quitting caffeine
I quit caffeine as of a few weeks ago.  I had been drinking up to 8 cups of coffee per day (only 2 scoops of grounds though) for the past few years, and I had developed a slight sweating problem.  I'm not completely sure the two things were related, but I had been thinking about giving up caffeine anyway.  I don't like the idea of being dependent on something.  What if I'm somewhere where I can't get a fix?  And really that's what caffeine has become for me.  It's long since stopped being a morning pick-me-up or anything like that.  It's a substance, that if I don't ingest on a daily basis, I'll get a miserable headache and feel like garbage. 

I'm really not sure what to believe about the health benefits of caffeine.  I've heard it can be good.  I've heard it can be bad.  My thought is that our ancestors existed just fine without it.  Plus it's certainly not an essential vitamin or mineral or anything like that.  There's nothing in coffee or tea or any caffeinated beverage that's necessary for our bodies to function, that we can't get from eating regular food.  We can live without caffeine. 

So anyway, I slowly decreased my coffee volume consumption while also slowly decreasing the strength of the coffee itself.  The last couple weeks were a cup or two with more than half decaff grounds.  AND YET, when I quit completely I still had a stupid headache and felt crappy. 

Now that I'm caffeine-free, I'd like to say I'm sleeping better and feel great.  But honestly I feel exactly the same as I always did, albeit a little less sweaty. #food

Acid reflux foods
This list of food and drinks that can trigger acid reflux is literally, and I'm not exaggerating or joking in any way, my literal entire daily diet: 
  1. alcohol
  2. caffeinated products, such as coffee, soda, and tea
  3. chocolate
  4. citrus fruits
  5. garlic
  6. fatty foods
  7. onions
  8. peppermint and spearmint
  9. spicy foods
What I am supposed to eat?  Water and rice cakes? #food

Vegetarian diet experiment
I've had high cholesterol since I was a teenager, and I've tried all kinds of things to lower it.  Everything from the standard "diet and exercise" (thanks doc, I'm glad I paid for that advice) to pills.  Pills work great, but most doctors are hesitant to prescribe them to a person who'll likely be taking them for 50 or more years.  A recent doctor visit presented me with the motivation to try something new:  Become a vegetarian.  I've heard that advice anecdotally from people who think cholesterol only comes from the food you eat (side note:  it doesn't; 80% of the cholesterol in your body comes from your own goddamn body), but I've never taken the plunge.  So I decided to conduct an experiment that would either make me a permanent vegetarian, or prove people wrong so I never have to have this stupid conversation again. 

The first step was to figure out what meals I could eat in place of meat.  It took a little effort, but I found that it's less of a "replace [meat] with [vegetable]" and more of a "replace [meaty meal] with [veg+carb meal]".  Stir-fry meals are essential.  Sometimes tofu (fried and diced) was involved to add a little bulk to the meal, but the idea that you would simply replace a piece of chicken with a piece of tofu is ludicrous.  Final note:  pizza and pasta are vegetarian, so I ate a lot of those. 

I decided to give it a solid six month trial.  One month is way too short (I think) to produce any type of biological change, and three months sounded short as well.  During these six months, I never ate a single piece of animal flesh, and the only animal "product" I consumed was dairy -- not much milk or eggs, but holy hell lots of cheese. 

Eating at restaurants was a little bit of a challenge, but not nearly as much as it likely was 20 or so years ago.  Every place on earth has a vegetarian option.  It's not hard to find.  But don't come at me with some dumbass salad -- I'm a vegetarian, not a rabbit.  It's not that I dislike salads, it's just kind of the most basic vegetarian thing in existence, and it gets old quick. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is catering to other people's absurd preferences and dietary restrictions, so I made sure people didn't cater to mine.  This was sometimes difficult because people are nice.  It helps that I'm totally not a foodie; I'll literally eat snacks and call it a meal.  Regardless, some people went out of their way and made fantastic vegetarian dishes, which was pretty cool. 

Now for the results.  I got a blood test before I started, and then six months later.  My total cholesterol ... stayed almost exactly the same.  The ratio stayed almost exactly the same.  My triglycerides went up, possibly because of all the carbs I was eating. 

In short, a total failure.  Or at least that's what it felt like when I got the results.  But it was an experiment, so there's really no failure or success, just a result.  Either way the result was kind of disappointing, not because I necessarily wanted to be a vegetarian for the rest of my life (which wouldn't be terrible), but because yet another cholesterol-lowering thing produced exactly zero results.  Oh well. #food

Vegetarians and fish
I find it odd that some vegetarians eat fish.  Aside from the whole "is fish meat?" question (hint:  how is it not?), fish has to be the least compelling meat to eat.  Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in a fishing area, but when I think to myself, "What's a nice big tasty thing I can eat for dinner?" I never land on fish as the answer.  I like eating fish, but it's certainly not my go-to for meat.  So if a person's diet is devoid of animal products, I just can't fathom why fish would be the lone exception.  It doesn't provide any sort of nutrient that you already aren't getting from plants, and it's really not that good. #food

Salt and pepper vs. ketchup
I recently, unintentionally, made one of the biggest changes in my life since switching to black coffee:  I stopped putting ketchup on my eggs and started putting just salt and pepper.  I was traveling one weekend, and there were eggs but no ketchup.  In an effort to salvage a breakfast, I went with some simple salt and pepper, hoping to at least make the eggs palatable.  It turns out ketchup is essentially made of salt and pepper, and some sugar and tomatoes.  The sugar and tomatoes don't really matter for me in terms of adding flavor to eggs.  It all comes down to the salt and pepper.  Not only did it salvage the breakfast, it was good enough for to me switch permanently.  Now when I go to restaurants, I don't have to convince the waiter that ketchup is a reasonable condiment for eggs (it's a regional thing apparently).  Salt and pepper for the win. #food

Not a foodie
I realized one day, while I was eating leftover salmon which I didn't microwave long enough and was still cold in the middle, that I'm just not a food person.  I ate cold leftover fish.  It wasn't very good.  I ate it anyway.  I didn't feel like walking to the microwave again. 

I view food in two ways:  As a source of enjoyment, or as a source of calories.  I find it fairly easy to separate the two.  A bacon cheeseburger is enjoyable, and it's also a calorie source -- a double win.  Poorly microwaved fish is completely unenjoyable, but it's still a calorie source.  My goal of surviving by consuming calories can still be met, even though I don't particularly enjoy the experience. 

I was a picky eater as a kid.  I didn't like ham and cheese sandwiches.  I didn't like hot dogs for some reason.  I remember many situations where I was forced to eat or drink something ("Finish your damn milk!") and not enjoying it.  Maybe I got used to forcing myself to do things I don't enjoy.  That sounds like a rabbit hole I'll avoid for the moment.  Either way, I gained valuable experience in eating things I didn't enjoy, simply to prevent my death from malnourishment.  It worked; I'm not dead yet. 

I got over my pickiness.  Now I just actively eat things I don't enjoy, and I continue eating them until my plate is empty.  My wife cooks dinner most nights, and sometimes she'll try something new.  In 12 years of marriage, there has been approximately one meal I didn't eat, and it might've been because she used a cup of red pepper instead of a teaspoon, or something like that.  I ended up finishing the dish some other time, mixed with some less-spicy stuff. 

Honestly it's just too much of a hassle to be a picky eater.  Would I rather be eating something I enjoy?  Sure.  But this is what's in front of me right now, and quite simply, I don't feel like preparing a different meal, and I don't feel like not eating. #food

Dinner specials
"Do you want to hear our dinner specials?"  Oh you mean, do I want to hear you ramble through a ridiculously long list of food choices which would be infinitely better communicated on paper, which there is zero chance of me remembering, just so you can check an item off your "Waitressing 101" checklist and sell more food that didn't sell well yesterday?  How about no. #food

Diet snacking
I've felt for a long time that the success or failure of any one particular diet comes down to the snacks you're willing and able to eat.  Most diets consist of cutting something, whether it's calories or carbs or fat or wheat.  It's not particularly difficult to come up with a meal that meets those requirements.  Generally if you stick with lean meat and vegetables, that's all there is to it.  But what about all those times between meals, when you used to eat cookies and crackers and chips and candy?  Diet snacks are usually crappy things like celery sticks and green peppers.  These are unsustainable as snacks unless they're something you normally eat.  The key is to find something that meets the requirements of the diet that also doesn't negatively affect your health in some other way, all while being desirable to you.  Instead of stupid vegetables, go with pickles.  Instead of gluten-free crackers that taste like cardboard, go with corn chips.  There are a million ways to stay within the rules of a diet, but a lot of it comes down to finding snacks you can live with. #food

Black coffee
Last year I went on a little diet adventure where I stopped eating carbs.  One of the immediate changes I made was to stop putting sugar in my coffee.  For me, coffee required sugar.  It's a bitter, burnt drink that's made so much more palatable with sugar and cream and whatnot.  It's like that meme:  "Not sure if I like coffee, or coffee flavored sugar milk."  Cutting carbs also meant coffee creamers with sugar and even milk for that matter.  So I was using heavy cream as the only additive in my coffee.  This made life a little difficult when I went out for coffee.  Most places don't hand out heavy cream with their coffee. 

Fast forward a few months and I got back into the carbs game, but I didn't want to jump back into my old 2-tablespoons-of-sugar-per-cup-of-coffee habit.  I happened to visit some family and friends over the course of a few weekends where the only coffee creamer options were sugary flavored swill or skim milk.  So I found myself drinking black coffee largely out of convenience.  It was just easier that way. 

Convenience (or inconvenience, or laziness) stuck.  I transitioned to black coffee full time.  It's made life a lot easier.  It's freed up fridge space.  It's made it simpler to order coffee when I go out.  I no longer have to stand around the coffee condiment station trying to get my drink exactly right.  It's made my travel mug cleaner, because there's no sugar or fat for mold to feed on.  Black coffee is the way to go. #food

Breakfast cookies (4)
I just bought these Quaker Breakfast Cookies because they have "breakfast" in the product name, which dictates when I'm allowed to eat them.  They're actually pretty good, but my suspicions were accurate:  They're really just straight-up cookies in a package that suggests they can be eaten for breakfast.  Maybe they might have a little more fiber than normal cookies, but other than that, it doesn't change the fact that you're eating cookies for breakfast. #food

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