Sometimes less is more. And sometimes it’s just less…
When I stopped eating sugar, grains, and starch, I did a lot of things to get by. I chewed packs and packs of gum. I drank coffee and diet soda constantly. I put artificial sweetener in everything. I didn’t just put it in my coffee. I put it in my salad dressing. And on my fruit.
It helped. All of those things took the edge off. I don’t think I would have gotten through the beginning without the caffeine and the sweetener.
But after a while, the need for those things lessened. I haven’t chewed gum in about 5 years. For the past few years, a diet soda is a rare treat. I now use about a tenth of the amount of sweetener that I used to. And a couple of years ago I stopped drinking caffeine after noon. I might still have a decaf between noon and 1. But after that I stick to herbal tea.
And of course, a year ago I quit smoking.
I like living this way. I like not being a slave to things.
Please don’t misunderstand. I love artificial sweetener. I love coffee. I don’t plan on giving them up.
It has happened before that some person who is over 100 lbs overweight will tell me that artificial sweetener is bad for me. That it’s healthier to eat real sugar. And I nod and smile. Sometimes I tell them that I can’t eat sugar. That I’m allergic. That it makes me sick. Which is true. Just probably not in a way they understand “allergic” or “sick”. But it’s none of their business. And I certainly don’t mock them. Or shame them. But I do sometimes wonder if they see the irony. I mean, I’m in a healthy body with beautiful skin and clear eyes. I radiate “healthy glow”.
But then this week, I got mad at myself. For having another coffee shake. (Black coffee, ice and sweetener in the blender.) 3 instead of 2. All before noon. After I drank the 64 oz of water I drink every day.
I don’t know why I got so judgy. But I didn’t like it. That is not the kind of person I want to be to myself.
It’s true that I don’t want a love of indulgence to be the center of my life. But it’s not! And I don’t love “restricting” myself. It’s not about restriction. I mostly love the way it feels to live in a body with less junk in it. And I love “not needing” one more coffee, more than I love “not having” one more coffee.
But this is what occurs to me. This is some incarnation of my eating disorder brain. And it’s one I never thought I had. Anorexia. I never starved myself. I could never go long without eating. But just like the bulimic girl, and the fat girl, and the good girl who live in my head, there is an anorexic girl. And I don’t know that I have ever distinguished her voice until now. But she is harsh. And judgmental. And disgusted by my weakness. That I folded to the temptation of another coffee. When I should constantly be trying for less, not more. She wants progress toward perfection. Perfection is the goal.
And there is one more important thing I am hearing from her. Not important because she is right. Important because I need to distinguish her sickness. She tells me happiness is of no value. Peace either. Perfection is the only goal. To be attained and then maintained at all costs.
This is what I want to say about that. You don’t get a say, Anorexic Girl. You are not the kind of woman I want to be. Your desire for perfection does not impress me.
I want happiness. And peace. I want to enjoy my life. And the fluidity of it. The dance. And I don’t want to focus on what I can’t, don’t or shouldn’t. I have my commitment to my food boundaries. And to never eating sugar, grains, or starch. And I even have some guidelines around coffee and artificial sweetener. All of these things enhance my life. These things make my life bigger, not smaller.
Someday I might decide to stop drinking coffee. Or using artificial sweetener. (I said I might!) But if I do, it will be because I want to give myself something. Not to take something away.