February 23, 2018
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Giving up my best friend for 10 days: Life without sugar

Missing Credit
Missing Credit
Erin Donovan
By Erin Donovan, Special to the BDN

I gave up sugar for 10 days.

This may not register a spike on the pain scale for many, but for me, it’s akin to losing a best friend. A best friend who greets you warmly every day and keeps you company in that bleak stretch of time between lunch and dinner. A best friend who never looks askance at you in your fat sweats while you throw pieces of croissant at the TV every time Kim Kardashian appears in leather pants. A best friend who hugs you heartily, arms dripping with 12 atoms of carbon, 22 atoms of hydrogen, and 11 atoms of oxygen, and whispers, “It’s just you and me, kid.”

The way drug addicts eventually bottom out and emerge with the conviction that they must wrest control from their psychotropic captor, I knew I needed to forsake my sweet, sweet companion for a period to prove to myself that I could. The more I vetted the idea, the more I came to realize that people don’t think giving up mostly anything for 10 days is that difficult. As I encountered more and more shrugs and perfunctory well-wishes, I was reminded of my high school basketball coach who used to scream in our ears during conditioning exercises, “You can do anything for one minute!” Little did she know that I spent most of that one minute pantomiming my way through the actions whenever her back was turned. Giving up sugar would be different. Because I would always be looking.

When I told a certain friend of mine of the Tolkien-like journey I was about to embark on, she suggested I keep a diary of my travail. Because she is a nutritionist — well, not professionally, but she eats a lot of kale and doesn’t ever consider murdering anyone in a duel over the last piece of cake — I thought it seemed a sure way to triumph over sucrose.

Day 1: It’s really hard to do God’s work like this. I feel alert yet serene. Connected to myself and the constellation of human souls around me. I want to do philanthropy. I want to say the word philanthropy. I want to make others do philanthropy. Maybe I’ll just start by paying my cable bill on time. I am going to be the change I want to … WHAT DO YOU MEAN HOT CHOCOLATE HAS SUGAR IN IT????

Day 2: If I could have lunch with one person — dead or alive — it would be frosting.

Day 3: This no sugar thing is getting easier. When faced with the dessert table at tonight’s party, I acted cool as a cucumber and just severed my hands at the wrists with a teaspoon.

Day 4: I’d blow rails of Splenda off the backside of a dead hyena right now.

Day 5: If I had to choose between being blind or being deaf, I’d choose whichever one compels people to place more cookies in my hands.

Day 6: I bet the show Dexter was inspired by a No Sugar Diet.

Day 7: I should try being a Scientologist next. Kirstie Alley seems really light on the willpower spectrum so if she could do it, I’m a sure bet.

Day 8: If you managed to be a vegetarian in the state of Missouri, where even salads came topped with squirrel meat, you can certainly be a no-sugaratarian for two more days in Maine.

Day 9: It was so nice to eat dinner out with friends tonight. It felt cathartic to talk about my struggles in an open and supportive environment in which they all ordered pieces of cake while I chewed ice cubes and fashioned voodoo dolls in their likeness which I then stabbed with chopsticks and steak knives until the bill came.

Day 10: I’m going to be on sugar tomorrow like Charlie Sheen on identical twins.


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