An Equal Debate
About a month ago Dizzle and I were spending a delightful day off. We did what we normally do… sleep in until we have ten minutes left before Boomerang’s stop serving breakfast and then run, nearly in pajamas, there, thoughts of latte’s pushing our legs faster. We made it in time and I did what I normally do, take a huge, luxurious whiff of my large soy latte and reach for two equal packets.
Later that night I made us some tea (wow with all the hot bevvies in this Southeast Asian heat!) and when I sat down next to D he turned away from his laptop to face me. “Crista, we have to have a serious talk”
uh. oh. I believe my heart stopped for a full 30 seconds. and then he continued “when you finish that box of Equal (in the cupboard) can you stop using Equal?” Okay, that is not at all what I was imagining but… perhaps this is worse. I have been using Equal and Sweet and Lo since I was 16 years old. Growing up we weren’t allowed to use it or drink diet sodas until we turned 16, then we could decide. There is no doubt in my mind that artificial sweetener is an unnecessary condiment. I realize everything doesn’t have to taste really sweet AND have nearly 0 calories. I let myself answer him before my brain got involved in the long process of deciphering how much Equal and aspartame I actually consume. I replied, softer then usual “of course. Are you concerned?” he gave me that look he gives me when I reach for a handful of jelly beans the second I finish dinner. Yeah, he’s concerned. Wow, who knew I’d be dating someone who even knew what Equal was?!
So I did what all addicts do. I portioned out that last box and tried to figure out how the hell I was going to continue to drink morning coffee, tea, iced tea, and sundry other things without it bothering me that I knew there was sugar in it instead of Equal, ie. that there was added calories in it. But when I started thinking about it, I consume sugar now, sweets, real ones made of sugar, of my own accord now. Gummy bears, lollies, chocolate chips, shared cheesecake slices and frozen yogurt (not shared) are all included in my weekly palate. They didn’t used to be. Perhaps if I put actual raw sugar or honey in my coffee and tea I could just balance it out by eating a few less lollies? Okay, sugar math! I’ve always been good at that. So when I finished the box I tried putting raw sugar in my coffee and I realized, Equal is so much sweeter then actual sugar! and if I couldn’t put Equal in it, I didn’t really want the added sugar anyway so I drank a few soy lattes sans sweetener altogether (although there was that one day I put honey in my coffee… very interesting, not bad, not normal) and you know what, they weren’t that bad. And when I was willing to commit to actual sugar I got a caramel soy latte… but as a dessert. Okay, I could do this.
Then it happened, one day after a normal coffee and a normal workout I came home and didn’t want jelly beans, chocolate chips or anything sweet. I panicked…am I dying? I was a little hungry so I grabbed a handful of pretzels and was satiated. I think, and this is my opinion that giving up artificial sweetener, even just for a few weeks, has cut down my sugar cravings (although not obliterated them, mind you) Wow.
Now I am not here to tell you that Equal is evil. I firmly believe that each person can judge whats best for their own body and expect to have the same respect given to me. I don’t think what works for “everyone else” works for me, I think I find what works for me through trial and error. But I was shocked. Just as I am continuously shocked at the unhealthy habits I harbor when I think of myself as such a health nut.
My affair with aspartame and Equal (I’ll give you a little story about how Splenda and I parted ways in another post) started the same time as my eating disorder when counting calories and fat grams and every single little thing was life or death. But, of all the habits I’ve changed and tweaked, it’s stayed around. Equal allowed me to enjoy sweets without anxiety. It was my survival mechinism and it served me well. And now I guess I don’t need it. Which makes sense. I have no sugar or calorie embargo any more, it’s been lifted 🙂 And I actually enjoy foods that are less sweet now as well.
All of that said, I hadn’t really shared any of this with Dan because, well, I bore him enough on the day to day with my food, workout, nutrition, eating disorder, blogging ramble. I am a fan of the overshare and he never complains but instead chimes in, gives his two sense… even reads my blog every day not only because I wrote it and he loves me but because he wants to help my “stats” go up.
Today we had an early start and we met for breakfast at Coffee Bean. I’ve been doing my best to eat brekkie most mornings if I can and so I had the oatmeal there with dried cranberries (delish by the way. I love that you can get a pretty healthy breakfast on the go these days). I tried it and thought it needed a little sweetness. Dizzle suggested I go get some sugar from the bins. I picked up my bowl and headed over. Hmmmm there was no raw sugar. The idea of putting white sugar in my healthy breakfast was unappealing. I looked at the equal. Then I turned around and sat down “aw its okay, they’re out of raw sugar. I bet its really good anyway, dried cranberries are pretty sweet” and I started to eat. Dan just looked at me. Then he said “wow, I’m so proud of you. you’re so disciplined, you didn’t even put equal in your bowl. You’ve really stuck with it!” Huh. He’s right. Of all the things I’ve had will power over and all the things I decided I could use as crutches… I let go of this one with very little resistance. Go me! I guess when it came down to it, I was shocked I could consume things without some kind of sugar or sweetener. It seems that using sweetener was a habit more then a desire.
I’m the person who doesn’t take antibiotics because I don’t like to put synthetic things in my body (on top of being allergic to a whole milieu of them), I don’t use vitamins without doing my own research. I don’t like to take painkillers unless I really CAN’T STAND THE PAIN. I don’t take sleeping pills or eat fast food. And yet I was still pouring tons of aspartame and saccharine down my throat. Habits.
There are more important things to think about. Like my lunch break workout of 45 minutes on the elliptical and 5 minutes of sun salutations. I’m going to do Ab Ripper X on my next break. I think…
Oh and I downloaded a bunch of free yoga podcasts from iTunes… can’t wait to try them out! Full classes of Baptiste Power Yoga for free?? that I can do anywhere… I can’t wait!
ps. that graphic up top is actually the official symbol of Victoria Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights Lobby Campaign but I thought it worked for this too 🙂