Kafka’s Foodtopia

Someday, I’ll figure out what I can eat without coughing.

I’ve had a chronic cough since at least 2006. I’ve had this cough that comes and goes, seemingly at will. When I have a coughing fit, every bird within two miles flies away. I disturb my wife, my kids and myself. I’ve tried everything to get some relief from “this cough”.

I’ve had friends tell me long ago that it was because I was angry, so I cut the anger. I’ve had doctors tell me that it’s GERD. It’s an allergy. Too much spicy food. I’m eating too much. I’m eating the wrong food. I honestly don’t know. So I’ve been experimenting with my diet for more than a decade with a fervent hope that I’ll find a diet that I can just live with. In peace.

I was vegetarian for 10 years, still had a cough. I’ve tried fasting, drinking lots of water, going “alkaline”, ginger tea, and God knows what else. Lately, I considered the possibility that it really was an allergy. So I tried Claritin for a few days. The first day, I was fine and I didn’t cough much. I even ate the stuff I liked the most. Still didn’t cough. By the third day, I wanted to get off the bus.

I started coughing again, even though I was taking allergy medicine, so my theory was blown. And that stuff was making me drowsy. Claritin nearly wiped out my desire to write. I was slow, sleepy and not very happy. And I was still coughing. I understand that there are regular users of Claritin, but I just don’t see how they can function when under the influence of it. I couldn’t. So I’m kind of relieved that the source of my cough is not an allergy.

So for now, I’m playing it safe. Brown rice, bananas, apples, and light salads, all in small portions. That’s pretty much it.

For a while there, I was in the habit of mixing those Tasty-Bite prepared Indian food with my rice for lunch. But that turned out to be one of the reasons why I cough so much, too.

I’m having a Kafkaesque life with food. As I explored my condition with doctors and learned about acid reflux, silent heartburn, and GERD, I could see my favorite food sailing out to sea. No more Indian food. No more snacks like potato chips, corn chips, peanuts, chocolate, an occasional iced coffee, tomato sauce, tomatoes in a salad, or pizza. The safest bet for me is whole, minimally processed food.

I’ve lost more than 10 pounds since March of this year, and keeping the weight off is easy. I only need to look at the food that I like, but shouldn’t eat, associate it with the discomfort of coughing, and think of something else to eat. And then I drink water.

So I’m building a list of foods that I can safely eat without trouble. Salad, brown rice, non-citrus fruits, avocadoes, bell peppers, more brown rice. I know, I’m repeating myself. I’m sort of becoming hyper-vigilant about food. Kind of scared of some food. I’m looking for safety with food.

I know that I’m kind of venting here. I see the food that other people eat, and I wonder how they can do it anymore. When presented with a choice between fasting for 6 hours and a meal at McDonald’s, I’ll fast, thank you. Water is my friend. I see the people eating pizza at Costco. I’ve tried one and I know now that I never have to eat one of those again.

Maybe, in an alternate life, I’m fine. Some doppelganger of me, in an alternate universe, split off from this one in 2006, is just fine. But in this life, I’m working very hard at taming the food so that I can sleep at night. So that my family can sleep at night. So that I can just wake up in the morning without wheezing and coughing.

The one thing that works, that truly works for me is water. Water is soothing, water is refreshing. Water is cleansing. Water is the ultimate solvent. Nothing stands the test of time against water. So I drink water to cleanse my throat. I drink water to rinse my stomach and dilute the acid. I drink water to fool my stomach into thinking it’s full. It does take time for the water to traverse the membranes of the alimentary canal, after all.

So I’ll start with water and find my way to food that I can eat without the discomfort, the irritation or the interruptions. I know that someday, I’ll be able to eat without coughing again.

Write on.

Written by

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.

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