Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sweet Goodbye

What would you give, in order to have what you've always wanted?

Time to come clean.  I've been carrying a monkey on my back since the late seventies.  Maybe you can relate.  It stared with Tab I think, or maybe Diet Rite.  No no!  It was those little pink packets of      Sweet n Low that first started my dubious relationship with artificial sweeteners.

I remember my sisters complaining about the aftertaste, but I had no problem with it.  Secretly I thought, "Hey, this is even sweeter than sugar.  That makes it even better."

By the age of 15 I had fallen in love with the taste of sugar free Shasta, Fresca, and especially the unique flavor of Diet Dr. Pepper.  A tall cold fountain Diet Coke from McDonalds or 7-11 was the perfect partner to the cigarettes I had started to smoke regularly.

I remember my daily breakfast at Nosh a Rye in Scottsdale, not far from my High School.  It consisted of a bagel with cream cheese and a big Diet Coke, followed by the best cigarette of the day.  Oh how pumped up I used to get by the three Cs: Caffiene, Carbs, and Cigarettes.  Now I'm beginning to accept that there was a fourth factor in that legal narcotic cocktail: Artificial Sweetener.

Since I started my transformation journey four years ago, I have read and heard many warning voices about the whit powder in all it's forms.  Saccharin, aspartame, Splenda, even stevia have drawn the concern and suspicion of fitness experts from Jillian Michaels, to my mentor Craig Ballantyne, all the way to Food Addicts Anonymous whose food plan calls for the elimination of all artificial sweeteners in order to reach abstinence.

A few days ago, I was listening to the Livin' La Vida Low Carb show, and the guest,  JJ Virgin was suggesting a diet that eliminated the top culprits for food sensitivity.  Some thing she said stayed with me.  It was her suggestion that the very food that you simply refuse to give up may be the one that is holding you back from reaching your fitness goals.

I could use the excuse that stevia/splenda/and aspartame aren't foods- but that just makes the case for leaving them out even stronger.

Right now, there is a cup of Tully's French Roast right next to me.  In it, I have mixed one teaspoon of heavy cream.  As I sip it, slowly, I can feel how it's power over me has been reduced by the absence of my usual hazelnut liquid stevia.  Every morning for years, especially since I quit smoking back in 2000, I have leapt out of bed eagerly to get my fix of what I thought was caffeine.  Maybe it wasn't the coffee I wanted so badly.

For the next six weeks, I have decided to let the sweeteners go.  I have heard, and I hope it's true, that after a few days all my desire for sweets will fade away, and I will be able to look upon things like chocolate cake with complete peace and equilibrium.  What I wouldn't give for that feeling!

Now, I have a little wisdom in these matters, and I know that nature abhors a vacuum, so I'll need something to fill the empty space that those sweeteners leave behind.  So when the craving hits, I'll think of freedom, of the ability to stay true to my goals, and the health gains I'll get from doing the right thing.  Deep down I've suspected that the chemicals I've been ingesting in the form of lots of sugarless gum has been the barrier between me and releasing the last ten pounds of fat.

If I can do this, and it works, the benefits will be priceless.