Hello, and welcome to my odyssey: For this year I decided to crop added sugar over the richly saturated JPEG of my life, in an effort to improve my daily function and perhaps regain that low stomach “V” I had in my last year of college. You know what I’m talking about? This is the sugar-free diet, and it’s not for the faint of heart.
In truth, I don’t know the benefits of cutting sugar from your diet other than gaining the superhuman ability to incorporate your new lifestyle into almost any conversation you have. Some doctors say you feel less sluggish, your risk for diabetes slumps, and your eating habits, now free of temptation, generally improve. Everything is fine, but I care about looking good now. And unlike a more restrictive diet, No Added Sugar takes the deceptively simple form of a single directive: don’t eat sweets. I don’t particularly like them, but I eat three packs of Skittles every day because I have no self-control. It will take some resolution.
Several incredibly rude haters have pointed out that my diet does not completely eliminate sugar but only eliminate added sugar, which I would like to acknowledge is true. Apparently, a sugar-free diet prevents most fruits and alcoholic beverages, and what am I going to do, not drink? Good try. I’m all about health, but I’m also all about free will, choice, and fun. The best types of diets are the ones you adopt and then modify to suit your comfort zone. I call mine the Sugar Free Diet with a few modifications. I felt good, then awful, then good, and now I’m a new person.
Day 1 of the sugar-free diet
Day 1! What a wonderful day to not eat sugar for the rest of your life. The first day of a diet is always the best because it gives you the superiority of being on a diet without the discipline involved in the actual diet. The night before, I had a full pint of cinnamon ice cream, mixed with oats. For lunch today I had a salad without sugar, and for dessert – what is it? – a good mint tea. (For dinner, I ate a burger and sugar-free fries, and for dessert, another order of fries.) I’m practically vibrating with energy. It’s awesome and I love it.
Day 4 of the sugar-free diet
An admirer sends me mini donuts to my workplace, and I magnanimously share them with my colleagues, feeling no temptation.
Day 6 of the sugar-free diet (day 1 of weaning)
I wake up with a strange feeling of lightheadedness that quickly turns into a splitting pain in the skull – the kind of pain that makes you sensitive to light. It’s Sunday, so I close my eyes and try to sleep or invite death. Neither works: hours later, my brain is still vibrating.
But I finally have to wake up. Dieting is social – how will people know you are dieting? – so instead of my evening ice cream frenzy, I choose to share a tequila soda with a friend. Tequila Soda is the best cocktail if you are on a low sugar diet and the taste of vodka makes you throw up. “Won’t that make your headache worse?” my friend Kim asks. It does. But after three hours, I’m sedated enough to sleep through the pain.
Day 7 of the sugar-free diet (day 2 of weaning)
Hello! I feel like I have the flu. The weather is terribly mild for January, but my body, reeling from the retreat, decides to soak my shirt in sweat anyway. My headache didn’t give way at all. On the positive side, I feel like I have more energy – however, my body has decided to spend it in the form of pain that is all over the body.
The pain relievers are verboten before the little medical procedure I have to do tomorrow, so I am bound to suffer from the prison of my sore, wet, sugar-hungry body. I leave work at four, citing illness (actually, I’m just a baby), and go to bed at seven.
Day 8 of the sugar-free diet (day 3 of weaning)
After God raised my headache meter to Pain Level 9 (out of 10 levels) in His Infinite Wisdom two days earlier, I didn’t feel a moment of relief. The work is not done and I have become irritable with my colleagues and relatives. In a moment of desperation, I search for my one favorite headache remedy, ONLY non-pain reliever: a can of cold Coke. The aluminum looks like bronze against my palm. In a minute, I’ll take the box down. In 15 minutes, my headache subsides. The noose loosens. Triumphant, I am able to complete one (1) full day of work, but the clock resets.
The medical procedure went well, by the way with vibrators.
Day 1 of the sugar-free diet
Rejuvenated and headache-free, I wake up with a newfound resolve and decide I’ll have to double down if I want to spend the rest of my life without collapsing under a headache. I decide to turn to my good friend Gwyneth Paltrow, whose lifestyle website, Goop, is essentially a collection of recipes specially tailored to accompany detox diets. I pick two of her “favorite snacks” and adopt them.
Spicy Cilantro Lemonade: It’s good as shit! The flavor is so rich and mind-numbing that I forget about the taste of sugar which is awesome. Measurements take some discipline to nail down, but that is the life I am used to now. I also used jalapeño peppers instead of Serrano peppers because I don’t know what it is. Then I used another jalapeno to make …
Guacamole and Sesame chips: Gwyn loves sesame chips, and while I would love to make them myself, as she graciously does, I bought mine at Whole Foods. To accompany them: a huge bowl of guacamole that I make with avocados, red onions, lime, jalapenos and cilantro.
Day 5 of the sugar-free diet
Everything was going wonderfully – until the beautiful and twisted Lauren Larson of GQ the magazine invited me to join the discounted corporate meal service MealPal. I receive this as an act of goodwill, but when a meal comes with a free chocolate chip cookie (FORBIDDEN) it smacks of sabotage. Lightly dressed in thin waxed paper, the cookie beckons me from the corner of my desk for the nine minutes it takes me to give in.
The diet gets another tweak: sugary treats and unnecessary sugar episodes can and should be avoided, unless you encounter them in nature, for free or as a gift. Invoking your sugar-free diet at your Candyland-themed daughter’s birthday party is worse than boring – it’s tactless and selfish. It also paves the way for a boring life – a life that does not plan ahead for free or donated treats. Of course, pay attention to the things you eat and how they make your body feel, but remember that the joy of food is a good reason to indulge yourself. Consult and listen to your doctor on these matters.
Don’t consult or listen to Lauren Larson.