If I wanted to be tested this often, I’d go back to school
I am in mourning this week. I had been in a relationship for nearly 8 years. And I had to let it go a few days ago.
It was a relationship with a particular brand of alcohol-free vanilla flavoring.
When I gave up sugar and carbohydrates over 7 1/2 years ago, I had to make a lot of little changes. A lot of things that probably wouldn’t occur to most people. One was giving up alcohol. Because alcohol is sugar. And things with alcohol in them. Like vanilla extract.
But I love my food. So I found an alternative to vanilla extract. A kind of vanilla flavoring that was alcohol-free. And it was expensive. But I loved it in ricotta cheese or yogurt, and even mixed it in with my butter. It made me so happy. It felt so decadent and yet I could eat it without guilt or shame. It was totally within my eating boundaries. I used it every day for years and years.
And then this week I noticed that the label had changed. Instead of saying alcohol-free, it now said non-alcoholic. And on the back in very small print, it says “contains 0.5% alcohol by volume”.
Now, I’m going to tell you, I wanted this to be a negligible amount of alcohol. I wanted to pretend that it didn’t matter. I wanted to keep using it. Dammit I wanted it to be not a big deal.
Maybe you’re thinking “Jeez, Kate! It’s not a big deal.”
But it is. To me, food is a big deal. And my relationship to food is a very big deal. And keeping my boundaries around my eating with honesty and integrity is the very biggest deal of all. And knowing that my vanilla flavor was no longer alcohol-free, but wanting to pretend that that was no big deal, and that I could just keep using it, and it still said non-alcoholic so it shouldn’t count, gave me a sick feeling. It made me uneasy. And uncomfortable. And a little nauseous. In other words, it felt like a lie.
So I called a friend who helps me make decisions about my food, and I told her about the change in the label. And if I’m going to be honest, I will say that I tried to present it in such a way where she could say, “Meh, half a percent of alcohol by volume. Pssh. You just feel free to keep using it.” But in spite of my presentation, I was still fully and perfectly honest. And she said, “Well, now it has alcohol. So you’re going to have to find another brand.” And she even told me of one she knew of.
So I agreed. And I got off the phone. And I cried. Sobbed hysterically, actually.
I know that I will find another vanilla. It’s not that I don’t know that. But I am going to have to mourn this. I had become attached to it specifically. I am not ashamed of that. It was part of my fantastic life of guilt-free eating. When I put boundaries around my eating, I gave up the foods that were killing me, not my love of eating. I don’t eat to live. Food is not just fuel for my body. I want it greasy, gooey, big and juicy. I want to be transported. I love my food. And there is one less thing that I can have now. And I don’t like giving things up. I do it if I have to in order to maintain my integrity, but I’m sad. And I’m going to be sad. I’m going to miss the vanilla that was my vanilla.
And, hey, God…if there could be fewer tests to my willingness and honor around my food, well yeah…that would be great. Thanks…