The hint has been in the air, but I haven’t really known how to put it into words. We’ve been together so long and have been through so much together. It’s been the first thing I’ve reached for in the morning and has kept me company into the wee hours. We’ve been together through better and worse, and I was certain we’d be together on my deathbed. But I’m afraid that, while we will always be friends and my loyalty will stay true, Coke and I have grown apart.
It was a cool and breezy day back in April when I popped open a little bottle of Coke and was surprised that it wasn’t the pause that refreshed. I looked at the bottle to make sure it was the real thing. It was. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t satisfying. I didn’t think much about it until the next Coke and the one after both hit my thirst the same way. What was happening? Was Coke turning on me, or was I turning on Coke?
At about the same time, my teen watched Fed-Up, a documentary about the evils of sugar, and shared some of what he had learned—mostly that sugar was in just about everything we digested and that it wasn’t good for us. ‘Well, duh!’ was my internal knee-jerk response. Over the years, I have become a little defensive about my relationship with sugar. However, my teen’s enthusiasm for eating healthier after watching the documentary and my finding it difficult to refute him led me to agree to try a moderate-sugar diet (sugar free is just too radical). I would cook fewer processed foods (ok, we would eat out and order healthier foods) and buy more fruit to soothe our sugar cravings. I’d also stop stalking the cotton candy vendors on our way home from dropping off our campers.
Beverages were my biggest sugar-free challenge. I like to have a drink by my side at all times. My separation from Coke made it easier to let go of soft drinks. I am loyal only to Coke (and the occasional Dr. Pepper). I am an avid ice-tea drinker, but without sugar, it held no appeal for me. And unlike my teen, who traded water for soft drinks years ago (the betrayal still smarts, but at least he didn’t start drinking diet Pepsi!), I hate water. I started experimenting, adding mint and lemon to different types of bottled water, and took enthusiastic sips, reminding myself that some people walked miles uphill both ways for a teaspoon of water, but my inner sugar rebel was not sold. She revolted. I simply had a thirst that could not be quenched. And then I discovered sparkling water. Carbonation was my savior. I love the fizz, the pop, and the punch that carbonation gives water. My favorite is Selters, in a pretty blue (it looks like Vodka) bottle. If I must give a full disclosure—I have not given up my once-a-day Starbucks habit, but my primary beverage choice these days is carbonated water. A blog post in the near future will offer tips on how to find a bathroom under any circumstance.
I know. We are passing through Ohio* now. Stay with me.
My teen and I have been moderately sugar free for about four months. There are days I fail at the grocery checkout and fall face first into a Hershey candy bar with almonds, but most of the time, I can close my eyes and push on through. Cole had a late night pie attack the other night that sent us racing to Bakers Square for a French Silk Pie, which we feverishly devoured, but being sugar moderate means we can accept a fail or two. I do miss Coke. I even crave it, like, I might imagine, craving a limb that was missing. My hand twitches a bit. I still order it when I have Mexican food or am at the movies, but I end up looking forlornly at the bottle or cup and asking, ”What went wrong between us, Coke?” I guess we’ll just have to be friends in a different way. Maybe I’ll buy a Coke hoodie.
How do I feel? Well, I feel good! And while I once thought a life that didn’t include processed sugar at every meal and every snack wasn’t worth living, I haven’t found giving up sugar all that hard (mostly). Odd, isn’t it?
Odd Loves Company,
P.S. If your stock in the Coke Cola company suddenly dropped, please accept my regrets.
P.S.S. Please note I do still eat Peeps.
* If you frequent Odd, you know that whenever one of my blog posts goes on endlessly and leaves you wondering if I will ever get to the point or if there even is a point, I reference Ohio. Why? Because the people I know and love from Ohio (and I know many) tend to tell long stories that frequently digress. It’s an inside Odd joke, but if you know someone from Ohio, you’ll get it immediately.