I stopped eating sugar three months ago. Well, to be perfectly honest, I still treat myself a bit on the weekends. And birthdays. I’ll never pass up birthday cake. But Monday through Friday, and even most of the time Saturday and Sunday, I sweeten my oatmeal with banana, I omit even the agave syrup from my smoothies, and I say no to every dessert, piece of candy, and slice of gum.
I’ve known for years that sugar wreaks havoc on my body. First, it was just my hormones. A direct link between dessert and my inability to get pregnant.
Highly motivated, I changed my diet. I had three miracle babies.
Then I went back to the cookies and ice cream.
I moved to Florida. I found a new doctor. He ordered a battery of tests. The news wasn’t good.
I don’t want to die of a heart attack or a stroke before I see my babies have babies. Once again, I am highly motivated.
I’ve had a fierce sweet tooth for as long as I can remember. If you had asked me when I was a child what my favorite food was, I promise you I would have said Cadbury Cream Eggs. Potato chips and popcorn, I can take or leave (though, of course, I take them frequently!). Chocolate chip cookies in the freezer will haunt me until every single one is gone.
When I first traded ice cream for mint tea after dinner, I felt sorry for myself. It seemed unfair. I imagined that everyone else could eat chocolate as often as they liked without fear of diabetes or heart disease.
My husband and children pour on the maple syrup while I frown and grumble over sprouted grain toast with none of my favorite blueberry jam.
But now . . . I’ve had an epiphany. I’ve realized something I might have noticed sooner if I hadn’t been preoccupied with feeling sorry for myself.
It was last Friday night. The week had been long, I was tired, and I decided to start the weekend off with a special treat. I would make chocolate chip cookies. And not just any chocolate chip cookies. The very best. The cookies from a cookbook called The Best Recipe. A cookbook that more than delivers on its title.
It was nearly nine o’clock when I sat down to taste those cookies, so sure that I was about to taste the goodness I’d denied myself all week.
After the first bite, I thought there was a mistake. I pictured my hand dumping in the cupful of brown sugar and wondered if I had miscounted.
My husband sat beside me at the table, and I asked, “Do these taste funny to you?” His look said, “What are you talking about?” and so I understood that the cookies only tasted strange to me. They were so, so sweet.
Unbearably sweet. I felt as if I were eating pure sugar, could almost feel the grains of it crunching sickeningly between my teeth.
This sweetness was no longer sweet. It was awful. One dimensional. Flavorless.
Here is the sweetness I’ve enjoyed all these months: the syrupy sweetness of a ripe peach, the crisp, tingly sweetness of ice-cold watermelon, the tart-sweet of blackberries, and the mellow, warm sweetness of a candy-colored sweet potato.
God has given me so many kinds of sweet: a whole spectrum of flavor and texture and color.
I never knew. Never truly tasted what was always right in front of me.
How often do we do this? Drag our feet and feel sorry for ourselves when all our father-God wants is to give us something good? Something better than the one-note flavor of whatever substitute we’ve provided for ourselves?
This thing I’ve been calling loss? Turns out, it was no loss at all.