Life Without Chocolate

by Brian on March 16, 2010

in Just For Fun

Have you ever tried to go off chocolate? I can tell you from first hand experience, it’s no mean feat.

My banning of chocolate has to do with a book I’m reading called Insomniac by Gayle Green. The author, like me, suffers from chronic insomnia and, as with anyone who is sleep starved, she has researched every angle and suggestion for ways to relieve her nightly distress.

One of those potential remedies is eliminating caffeine entirely from your body. Some people, Green writes, are so sensitive to caffeine that even a small hit in the morning can keep you up at bedtime. That’s in part because it takes up to 12 hours for caffeine to get out of the body. So if you have something with caffeine at 10:00 AM, it’s still with you before retiring.

Now, I’m not a coffee drinker but I do love my chocolate and the latter contains caffeine (although not in the same dosage as a cup of java). Throughout the day, you can catch me sneaking a piece at, both as a pick me up and as a way to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Could chocolate be contributing to my insomnia, I wondered?

Avoiding chocolate in our sugarcoated society is tough. The kids prefer chocolate in their cookies, ice cream and even pancakes (a monstrous defamation of the pure butter and syrup goodness I grew up with). Visit the local bakery and it’s chocolate this and chocolate that. And don’t even get me started about the predilection for chocolate filling in hamantaschen at Purim (whatever happened to old fashioned poppy seed?)

The irony of going cold turkey on chocolate is not lost on me: as an insomniac, a frothy ice coffee at Aroma or Café Hillel serves as a great pick me up on a particularly groggy day. And what’s Shabbat without rugelach from Marzipan?

Still, I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. I managed to get through this past Shabbat dessert by buying my own baklava, which is intensely sweet, drenched in syrup and stuffed with nuts…but no chocolate. For snacks during the week, I’ve taken to popping granola bars and dried fruit. Guests this weekend even brought almond cookies (delicious and gluten free to boot).

The bottom line, though, is: is it helping? For the first couple of weeks, I saw no noticeable difference in my sleep. By the third week, my sleep seemed slightly improved. I got through several nights without a second sleeping pill – that doesn’t make me meds-free, but perhaps it’s a start.

I’m going to keep at it. I look at it as a kind of challenge – like keeping kosher in California (where we lived before moving to Israel 15 years ago). And if it helps me sleep even an hour more, that would be an achievement worth sacrificing for. Chocoholics – I am no longer a member of your tribe.

I first shared my chocolate withdrawal tale on the Israelity blog.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Adrienne March 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm

We will miss you…

2 Rebecca Friedman March 17, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Oh Brian, no!

Not chocolate! Ouch. As a fellow chronic insomniac, I completely understand what you are talking about, and I just wanted to share with you a product I discovered recently that could be helpful. It’s called Wondercocoa, and is made by a company called Wonderslim. You can easily find it online (I got it from Amazon). It is NOT kosher certified but it is single ingredient – just roast cocoa beans – so I think it qualifies as not needing supervision to be considered kosher, but if you are worried check with your LOR. Why is this product cool? It’s decaffeinated! 99.7% to be precise. Same as decaf coffee. So when those chocolate cravings get too much for you, here is a safe way to make cocoa, or even a batch of brownies. It bakes wonderfully, has an awesome taste, and is even fatfree if that matters to you.

Keep us posted on any other insomnia suggestions/results!


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