SWYPO-- at my house
I'm not sure why this always happens.
I relish the ideal moment to write, and then sit at this computer staring at the blinking cursor. "What was I going to say again?" My mind patters off giggling, leaving me with vague ideas of topic and snatches of lyrics to 80's pop songs.
I'm sitting at my kitchen table in an empty house. It is a beautiful day, unseasonably mild, making sitting in the furthest spot from the air conditioner (which is not on, because it doesn't need to be on) possible. The goodness of the weather makes even being inside an almost obscene waste.
So of course I'm sitting at my kitchen table thinking about artificial sweeteners.
I'm sorry, non-nutritive sweeteners. Artificial sounds so...artificial. It invokes the bright pink packets of Sweet and Low that used to blare cancer warnings, and the pencil thin, chain smoking, over-tanned women of my youth that would sit by the community pool clutching Jackie Collins novels and returnable bottles of Tab.
One of the 'rules' of the Whole30, which is happening in just a week, is chucking all artificial sweeteners for the duration of the month. The idea is to reconnect with the taste of real food, not food that is overstimulating and nutritionally bereft or chemicals 600 times sweeter than naturally occurring sugar.
And this has been a tough one for me. See, I was always a sugar addict. Not a sugar user, not a sugar fan, a sugar addict, with all the skin crawly obsession, selfish hoarding, theft, deception, and other nonsense you'd normally associate with addictions that can get you arrested. It took me 42 years to realize that this particularly delightful component of my personality could not be bargained, rationed, Points valued,or negotiated with. I was surprised how much emotion came along with this realization. Fear. Panic. Grief. Sadness. I was like the character in 'As Good as it Gets' breaking down after his involuntary pet sitting that he unexpectedly enjoys comes to an end, and he laughs bitterly, saying to himself "Over a DOG." Only it was sadder. Because I was thinking about brownies and cinnamon buns.
Giving up sugar, I figured I was free. Because there were things I could use without consequences instead. I started to feel better. Good things started to happen.
There was, and is, only one problem.
I am still 'using'. I spent an inordinate amount of time, and not a small amount of money, trying to determine the exact right combination of sweeteners that would satisfy me. I wasn't looking for a certain balance of flavor, or a stability in a recipe, I was looking for something that would flip that cool, happy light on just like my old friend sugar.
And that, my good gentles, is STILL addiction.
It is what Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the authors of 'It Starts With Food' and the people behind the Whole30 call SWYPO-- Sex With Your Pants On. Getting off without technically 'breaking rules'. And I'll be honest. I don't make this statement with peace and smug satisfaction. The realization, bluntly, pisses me off. I'm pissed off because of the way my brain works. I'm pissed off that finding a way to keep it quiet by essentially engaging in the same behavior isn't acceptable, and I'm pissed off that I KNOW it isn't acceptable, because it means I have to do something about it. Not just for thirty days, but permanently.
Now, my low carb friends will be quick to point out facts (and they are facts) about the dangers of some of the things in that picture and the relatively benign nature of others. They will argue that there are some things that can be peacefully accepted as part of a reasonable way of eating and for themselves they will be 100% correct. For me, they will be wrong. I wish they weren't.
Or maybe I don't. Powerlessness is pretty fertile ground for gratitude.