Daily Archives: November 9th, 2010

I’ve unfriended a lifelong companion


They found my stunt double for a NYC anti-sugar campaign

One of the best friends in my life no longer whispers sweet nothings in my ear.

We met when I was really young. Some of my earliest memories of life involve this friend. I’m pretty sure my mom introduced us and we went together like peas and carrots.

Like a bowl of breakfast cereal. I just knew I’d done something wrong if the bottom of the bowl didn’t contain a thick syrupy residue of my best friend. Drinking and licking the bowl for this sweetness became the norm for finishing up a bowl of soggies.

Later, in school, my friend took many forms, notably Wintergreen Lifesavers during my junior high years. I used to eat a box per day. If memory serves it was 20 rolls for 20 cents each, or $4.00 a box. Ugh.

Somewhere along the way mom must have regretted her role, and she tried to switch me to diet sodas. I fought that tooth and nail. An ice cold Coke was one of the most pleasing shapes my friend could take.

As an adult I took things to a whole new level. After the “New Coke” fiasco I somehow found so-called “Classic Coke” unpalatable. So I switched to Pepsi. It didn’t matter since my friend remained even more constant than the Northern Star. Even in a Pepsi my friend still ensconced me a warm lover’s embrace. I’d have a 12-ounce can of Pepsi for breakfast to start the day. Then, throughout the rest of the day, it was 32 ounce “Big Gulps” and then, later, the masterful invention of the 44-ounce soda to go.

Serving sizes are their own discussion. Back in the 1950’s a 12-ounce can of soda was described as “king size” and was said to contain two servings. Today a 32-ounce serving is considered to be “medium” size. (Source: TheSocietyPages.org.) That is one wild ride I was happy to go along with. At my peak I’d estimate I drank close to a gallon of soda per day. Here’s another excellent link about serving sizes and soda, or what they call “liquid candy.”

Luckily I (mostly) kicked the soda habit about 15 years ago. One day I decided to give it up cold turkey. Oh man, the headaches. Those lasted about two weeks. In the end I went about two years with no soda of any kind. (I still refused to drink diet soda on principle due to chemicals.) After that two years, I dipped a toe back in the soda waters, but only as a rare “treat.”

Something interesting happened when I gave up soda, though. My old friend felt snubbed and vowed to get revenge. Soon my friend was showing up in coffee and iced tea. I rationalized it as “three spoonfuls” vs. the famous “16 teaspoons” found in a soda. That had to be my homemade version of a “diet” drink, right? At least in comparison to the ultimate evil of soft drinks.

That relationship was ongoing until two weeks ago last Sunday. That’s the last day I touched granulated sugar. I’ve now got two solid weeks of deprivation under my belt.  Cold turkey.

It’s been rough. Black coffee was a fairly easy adjustment, but tea? Hot or cold, I’m having a real hard time. It’s just not the same without the granulated sugar. I’m drinking a hot tea as I write this post and it’s really hard.

The other day I had the sugar jar open and I was negotiating with my wife for permission. (Which, of course, she says isn’t hers to give.) “How about just one teeny level teaspoon,” I whined. I even had it out and on the spoon. In the end, I’m proud to say I dumped it back in the jar and not in my drink.

Deprivation seems to be my new friend. For some strange reason I’ve always enjoyed trying to deprive myself of things. Like the two-year hiatus on soda. And once I gave up alcohol for more than a year just for the hell of it.

This last year I got in the habit of making a pot of coffee every morning. I’ve never been a big coffee drinker but suddenly here I was doing it every single day. Then one day about a week ago I skipped breakfast, skipped lunch, and showed up for my new job at noon shaking and feeling queasy as hell. I blamed the coffee. So now I’m depriving myself of that, too.

In fact, I love deprivation so much, I’ve already decided. The next thing I deprive myself of is going to be deprivation itself. And the only way to accomplish that is to go back to full throttle on all of the other things that were previously cut out.

Sounds like a win-win to me!