Sunday, December 25, 2011

Semisweet

Perhaps it was an inherent sense of masochism that led me to do some of the things I do; however, I still did them.

So, while I had finally recovered a little from the cold and was happily getting ready to spend my last week and a half in the states, I figured it was as good a time as any to embark on a frivolous self-improvement project.

I liked frivolous self-improvement projects and this one is a doozey. I’d been reading for a while about the impact of sugar on the body. Seeing as how I had given up red meat, pork, pasta, rice, and potatoes, already, taking the leap off the no-sugar cliff really didn’t seem like all that big a deal at this point.

As it was October first I decided to go for it and just stopped eating sugar. To prepare for this I spent the better part of the road trip really enjoying sugar. Each time I stopped to enjoy the sugar I would read the label, just to let myself know how much sugar it was I was enjoying. Each time saying goodbye to some food that I really didn’t want to give up, but you know, the sugar thing; maybe it’s just that I like to be impossible to eat out with.

Overall my experience had been positive. I stopped basically all grains, fruit, and processed food. My diet consisted of lots of chicken and fish when I want it, green veggies that I enjoyed, and cheese. Toss in some wine every now and again and you have happy me! In reality it wasn’t that much of a change. The worst week, was in fact, the hardest.

There was something about sugar, that sweet syrupy mistress. She was always there to comfort you, beckoning your taste buds with promises of the sweet, sweet reward that she had just in reach for you. Oh, sweets...you could smell her everywhere you go, that wispy warm perfume rising up from baked goods, sweetened coffee, and thickened sauces.Your mind just salivates with the potential of such saccharine succor. Mind and tongue, to be true, and without thinking it was easy to find oneself reaching forward to pick up just the tiniest morsel to prove your love once again and cave into sweet comforting satisfaction.

This was was struck me the most about the first few days without sugar. That sugar was just simply everywhere; it was as unavoidable as the rising sun. It could not be avoided, around you everyone else was enjoying it, and you alone are sitting there, neglecting that simple satisfying sanguine release that sugar is most sure to provide. Since I had spent a week reading labels and before that a good three weeks researching sugar, I knew what I was getting into. I trained myself to think about all the foods I was eating as a form of non-food. Sure, I will see people eating them, but I will remind myself that there is nothing in those things that is actually representative of food.

The first day this worked well. The second day I avoided it by barricading myself in my office and being offended at my unsweetened naked coffee. The third day I wanted to sell the monkey for a little bite of sweet. That’s when I realized the most intense grip of the sugary addition. I love the dog to tiny little judgmental pieces, but the thought of trading him in a heartbeat for some pecan pie occurred to me several times throughout the day. The fourth day it just stopped.

It was an odd and unexpected thing, in fact. Everything just stopped. Craving food, food desires, food dreams, hunger pangs, all of it was just gone. There was sort of a patina on the world that made everything a bit dull. I ate because I knew I sort of needed to, but there was not sense of desire or frenzy in it. I looked at sugary, lovely, processed, foods and felt nothing. All things considered, my break up with sugar had one of the shortest mourning periods ever. By the weekend I was ready to go to a restaurant, and did so, having amazingly good Greek food with the Bard at Santorini’s downtown. I picked a meal that was in line with my new found look at life, and enjoyed eating out for the first time that week.  I explained to her what was going on.

“You know, with this, it means there is basically only one person I know who is not on a restrictive diet,” she told me. As a gang we really do take the fun out of eating together.

Since then I had had many more meals both in and out and all of them lacked that sweet undercoating that girds the world. There were days now when I could say with honesty that I missed sugar, but what I missed was not the taste, but the convenience. When you stopped eating sugar you gave up the convenience of being able to eat when you want to eat, what you want to eat, what you can eat. Eating on the run was a handful of almonds and a hope for some cheese. There was a great deal of water and a great deal of waiting. There was also the patience and the sometimes heartbreaking trauma of watching as everyone around you enjoyed food they could eat while you realized you would have to make do on sparkling water and coffee until you could find a tin of tuna somewhere to break into.

As a grand experiment it was going about as well as can be expected. Because I do nothing half-assed, I expected this one to last from anywhere from six months to a year before I re-evaluate and determine if I missed sugar enough to give her another chance to be a part of my life. In the meantime I would continue to getting by as best I can while comforting myself that it is all for the best.

The inherent masochism continued to present itself as a much more understandable reason.

No comments: