Stevia: not for everyone

I have been having interesting discussions about my diet at school. It would come to that, as in clinics you spend a lot of time with people doing intense, stressful things- in the down time, we learn about each other and relax. People are so generous and sweet, too; bringing treats for each other as a sense of kindness (in their hearts). It makes them feel bad when they realize I won't (can't?) eat the doughnuts or brownies, or even the amazing looking chocolate mousse.


I don't want to make anyone feel bad, so I just gently explain that I simply cannot do it to myself ever again. One of the people in my rotation, E, commented she noticed the difference when I went 'off the wagon' second year... haha... and the difference now that I am back on track, one year now. There were a lot of questions, naturally, about the way that I am able to abstain and how the hell did I manage to do it in the first place? It is so interesting to me to hear someone say, "Oh I could never do it, I am a hopeless sugar addict, you don't understand."

Oh, don't I ever. Don't I ever.

I do, because, see, I am a hopeless addict too; I could not survive this without my clever stevia crutch. I fully and freely admit it. I like sweeties as much as the next girl, and chocolate all the more. If it weren't for this, I may not have gotten free. (If it weren't for cocoa puffs I might not have ever gotten snared).

But I did.

The discussions with these fine intelligent people leads them to curiosity about the things I am eating; people are often amazed to hear I make my own chocolates and ice cream. It sounds complicated to them, I imagine; but really it is no more complicated than biscuits, with the same time committment. I like chocolate a whole lot more than biscuits, anyway. In order to show them it is possible, I brought in a sampling; half my supply of cashew-macadamia nut butter cups. My favorite flavor, and best invention yet- the peanut butter version pales in comparison. It was well recieved by all but one.

E, who so astutely described my sugary fall from grace, tried it and could not finish it. It was much too bitter for her (Stevia does not assuage the bitterness of pure baking chocolate, nor lighten it at all; it is dark, fierce chocolate, not for the faint at heart). She said it burned her tongue, and believed it was the stevia that did this.

I cannot say either way. It could have been the shocking dark bitterness of the chocolate that made her tongue feel strange, or perhaps a reaction to the nut butters. I have never heard of this reaction to Stevia, which is not to say it isn't possible. If you have experienced this email it to me here, it is good to know. Me, I can eat the stuff all day long, and do (mostly in my tea, several times a day). So use it with caution, it may not be for everyone.


When family doesn't get it

Well, you can't convince everyone. Not that I'd want to. Not my job.


I do want at least my family to understand or at the very minimal respect what I am trying to do. Sigh. Doesn't always work that way, I know, and I am mostly resigned to the fact that I walk my own path and that's ok.

Anyway, my mom is... special. She thinks what she wants, no use trying to change the gal, she does her own thing anyway.

Everyone who knows me knows I am vegetarian and sugar free. That's a fact. Do I sometimes bend the rules? Yes. It's rare, but I do it. (Not with vegetarianism, but who can say no to mom's christmas cheesecake? That would be ludicrous). For the most part, though, it's known that I do not want dessert and it's best not to offer it to me- if you love me why would you want to torture me?

Now, if you've been with me since easter of last year, you know that I kicked sugar by ODing via Cadbury, the lovely Cadbury easter madness. Oh yes. Mini eggs, my own special weakness.

And she knows that.

As I said, my mom is special. One of the most giving, generous and kind souls on the planet. Also one of the most strangely vindictive- extremely subtle, but she's somewhat of a cat with a mouse. When you do (or are) something she doesn't quite approve of, she'll blithely ignore it and form you to her own special reality. I've adapted gracefully to it and know when to pick my battles.

I know, I know- you're dying to hear: what the hell did she do?

So she tells me she sent a package in the mail, and was quite excited about it. Besides herself. Well, it was going to arrive on Thursday, approximately. I was on call at the hospital on Thursday- left at 6 am, and arrived home at 6 pm the next day. That's life. Oh, and arrived home in a blizzard- yes, crazy snow... Anyway, she called and said:
"Did you get your present?"
"Oh! No- I haven't been to the box today, it's snowing like mad out."
"Well, go get it! I think it will help you, you've been so tired and stressed. Go get it."
"Mom! There's a blizzard outside!"
"What? Go get your mail! You grew up here, you shouldn't be afraid of a little snow. Go on. It will cheer you up."

So I went.

What did I get?

Yep. Mini eggs, a new variety with 'royal dark chocolate.' Wow. Yeah- they looked good, in the sexy dark purple wrapper...
And a card. A card with a lovely photo of a beef cow noshing a corn cob. The text at the bottom said:
"Corned beef in the early stages."


Ok- so how do you get back on the phone to a person who is sitting excited on her couch states away, breathlessly waiting for you to call back? I mean- she knows I'm vegetarian. She knows I don't eat sugar. I think she's trying to torture me. She's kinda sick like that. It's a test of my grace, and I can't yell at her- because she may genuinely believe she is being really kind and funny. Wow.

So- I call her and in our usual way I tell her she's sick and needs help (about the card) but tell her that although the candy is so thoughtful, I'm not eating sugar. I don't want to crush her. I tell her I'll try them (she was really excited about the new flavor) and that I am going to cheer up everyone else at the hospital, let her think she's spreading the love around.
Man 0h man, family takes patience sometimes. Whew.


One year- coming up!

As the next major Super Sugar Holiday approaches, I am reminded of how I pushed myself one year ago to quit sugar again. I walked through the grocery today and as I sailed past the 'seasonal' isle, I could see all the holiday treats trotted out long before the holiday has even arrived. Easter! A time of amazing confectionary treats! Some that I sadly do like. And will be avoiding with all my strength of will, with sanity intact.

What's interesting is that since I have not eaten any sugar in so long, I don't crave it like I did. I see the pretty packages that promise a little slice of sugary chocolate heaven, and I am not as tempted as I was when I had fallen completely off the wagon. This brings me so much relief! I never would have thought, years ago, that it would get easier. But it does. It truly does.

One year ago, I pushed my addiction until I was sick. I had to do it that wy, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten free. It wouldn't work for everyone, but I am now able to walk past the isle without wistfulness. I recall this being the case last time I went sugar free. It gets easier, I promise that it does.

Right now I feel pretty damn healthy and whole. I am more prone to choosing better foods and eat healthier all around because I am not so distracted by sugar. Oh, I've still got a sweet tooth, don't get me wrong! Using Stevia is freeing indeed, but I still want it. The sweetness. I doubt that will go away. I feel fine indulging in the Stevia version of what I want though, knowing it isn't going to uproot my moods and turn me into a crazy person.

I will stand strong and turn the other cheek as Sugar Holiday #2 approaches... I can, because I have so far, and will continue... yay!