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  • Day 222: The Power of Self-Sabotage

    Date: 2010.10.02 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    The big news yesterday was Rick Sanchez getting fired from CNN because of comments he made on Pete Dominick’s Sirius radio show about how Jews run all the broadcast networks.

    My friend Karyn wrote on my Facebook page, “Watch for him to turn up on Fox News.”

    Has shooting yourself in the foot now become a career move?

    In 2010 America, that’s altogether possible.

    I, however, hew to the classic definitions of self-sabotage.  For me, deciding to give up candy for a year was a method of squarely staring down self-sabotage – and making an effort to defeat it.

    I’ve always been fascinated with those who, to me, seem to be immune to any form of shooting themselves in the foot.  If I had to choose someone who seems to be immune to self-sabotage, that would be Diane Sawyer.  I worked with her at ABC News and I also once interviewed her for a MORE magazine cover story.

    I am nothing like Diane Sawyer, so I was surprised at how much I liked her.   Then again, me liking her so much is probably part of why Diane is so successful, at least in official terms, and why she’s done so well in life.

    I also worked with Rick Sanchez, when I was the “entertainment editor” for MSNBC.  (Though I started my career as a hard news reporter, I made a brief detour into entertainment news which was a lot of fun and got me a lot of great-paying jobs at CNN, ABC News and MSNBC.)   I only have fond memories of Sanchez at MSNBC because back then he was just a benign Ron Burgundy.

    One time I was doing a live segment with him about the upcoming fall TV season. (Full disclosure:  I was probably the only entertainment reporter in the U.S. at the time who almost never watched TV.) Anyway, the segment involved talking about four TV shows, among them Alias, which began the segment.

    After I got through with my take on Alias as well as three other TV shows, Sanchez smiled at me gamely and looked down at his notes:

    “Now then,” he said. “What about this show, Alias?”

    I smiled gamely as well and repeated what I’d just said previously.  The great thing about TV is that if you just act as if everything is all right, people rarely notice the blunders.   Like real life.  Perception=reality.

    It was only a few years ago that Rick and I worked at MSNBC.  Now I’m a resident of France, he’s in between networks (Roger Ailes on line one, Rick!) and America has changed so much in five years that at times I barely recognize it.

    Sometimes I don’t even recognize myself.  I used to identify more with the loose cannons than the Diane Sawyers.   Now I’m not so sure.

    It’s finally autumn in the south of France.   The change of temperatures is suddenly making the lack of chocolate in my life a lot more difficult.

    Sugar’s back to running my network.

    Who’s running you?


  • Day 221: “Death By Sugar”

    Date: 2010.10.01 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    It’s October 1st.   Do you want to give up sweets?

    Start today!

    To give you some quick motivation, take a look at a three-minute excerpt from Jorge Cruise’s upcoming film, “Death By Sugar.”

  • Day 220: Struggle for the Sugary Soul of Heinz Ketchup

    Date: 2010.09.30 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    Like ketchup?  Me, too.   I threw out my bottle of Heinz when I first began this blog but someone snuck a new one in the house without me realizing it. Here’s the latest on a sweet dispute…

    Heinz caught in debate over high fructose corn syrup vs. sugar

    By Teresa F. Lindeman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Stacy Innerst/Post-Gazette
    Management at the H.J. Heinz Co., the nation’s leading ketchup manufacturer, has taken a pro-choice approach to the anything but sweet battle being waged over the use of cane or beet sugar in food products vs. high fructose corn syrup.

    Heinz earlier this year introduced a version of its ketchup made with sugar, a product named Simply Heinz. Yet the Pittsburgh food company kept the controversial sweetener in its flagship ketchup, which has legions of fans and outsells the nation’s other brands.

    The strategy would seem designed to make everyone happy but, rather like being a middle-of-the-road candidate in a polarized election year, it hasn’t appeased the populace.

    “I love the taste of Heinz!” wrote Andrea Rega on Facebook in August. “It is by far the best tasting ketchup, but because you opt to use High Fructose Corn Syrup rather than natural ingredients I will no longer put it on my table.”

    Hey, what about the Simply Heinz option, or even the organic version of Heinz ketchup that’s been available for several years?

    Mike Connelly addressed that point in his contribution to the online conversation: “It makes no sense to use HFCS and then make a ‘special’ version without. Hunts doesn’t use it. Just make the standard version without it already.”

    Yet Steven Stewart wrote that he was alarmed at rumors that the company might phase out the current recipe in favor of the Simply Heinz version, which he disliked. Intensely.

    In the food industry, salty issues sure seem simpler these days than sweet ones.

    Numerous companies, including Heinz, have been steadily reducing sodium content in their products. There seems to be general agreement that too much salt is bad for people’s health. As long as a food maker is careful not to mess up the taste in changing its recipe, what’s to complain about?

    The sweetener issue is less settled.

    There’s still plenty of debate on whether sugar made from cane or beets is better for consumers than high fructose corn syrup. The Center for Science in the Public Interest won’t pick between the two.

    “Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are nutritionally the same,” said the group’s Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson, in a statement earlier this month. “So soft drinks and other products sweetened with sugar are every bit as conducive to weight gain as products sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

    “The bottom line is that people should consume less of all added sugars.”

    But the cane/beet sugar side seems to be winning the public relations battle.

    Mr. Jacobson’s comment came in response to a petition by The Corn Refiners Association in September to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking that manufacturers get the option of listing “corn sugar” instead of high fructose corn syrup on their labels. The FDA’s decision could take awhile.

    Awareness of high fructose corn syrup — long a low-key presence in small type on labels — is on the rise. In 2004, 40 percent of Americans were concerned the ingredient might pose a health hazard, according to research firm NPD Group. In 2010, that number had risen to 53 percent.

    “There’s that notion, ‘if I understand the ingredients,’ ” then it must be better, said Marilyn Raymond, who works on new product development as an executive vice president at GfK Strategic Innovation in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    She wondered if the increasing number of manufacturers announcing moves away from HFCS in some products is being driven by concern over consumer perceptions or by actual sales results.

    For now, it appears several food manufacturers are taking a similar approach to the one that Heinz has chosen. Change some products but not others, and then analyze the response.

    Just last week, PepsiCo announced its Sierra Mist lemon-lime soda would become Sierra Mist Natural. The company said the move came in response to consumer demand for products made with natural ingredients.

    “New Sierra Mist has been stripped of everything artificial and is naturally sweetened with real sugar so that the crisp, clean taste of lemon-lime shines through,” said Kristina Mangelsdorf, vice president of natural and flavored sodas, in a release.

    PepsiCo has noted in earnings reports that it has had success with “Throwback” versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew “made with real sugar.”

    Yet the Purchase, N.Y., company still has plenty of products that use high fructose corn syrup, including the flagship Pepsi.

    In August, Sara Lee Corp. announced changes to its two most popular breads that would take out the high fructose corn syrup and replace it with sugar.

    That company, too, cited consumer demand.

    “Sara Lee Soft & Smooth breads are among the best selling breads in the United States and our core audience, parents with children, has indicated that they want product options without high fructose corn syrup,” said Jeff Dryfhout, director of Sara Lee North American Fresh Bakery, in the official announcement.

    At about the same time that Heinz was introducing its Simply Heinz ketchup earlier this year, Conagra Foods pulled all of the high fructose corn syrup out of its Hunt’s ketchup products “in direct response to consumer demand.”

    It’s hard to tease out yet whether the changes have had an impact on ketchup sales. In the 52 weeks ended Aug. 8, unit sales of Heinz ketchup rose 2.37 percent, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm.

    By comparison, sales in the second-place private label ketchup category were up 1.46 percent and the main Hunt’s ketchup, in third place, rose 3.06 percent.

    Those results include sales from supermarkets, drugstores and mass market retailers. They do not include Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, or club stores and convenience stores.

    Hunt’s still trails Heinz significantly, but some of the third-place contender’s gains might have been driven by the ingredient change, said Ms. Raymond.

    A Heinz spokeswoman said the Pittsburgh company believes offering choices is the right decision. There are consumers looking for ketchup without high fructose corn syrup, said Jessica Jackson, Heinz senior manager, public relations. “We also have consumers that love Heinz Ketchup just the way it is, and would prefer we don’t change America’s favorite ketchup.”

    She said the company’s solution to meeting different consumer demands is “lifestyles lines of ketchup,” which includes Simply Heinz and Organic ketchup, in addition to No Salt Added Ketchup, Hot & Spicy Ketchup and Reduced Sugar Ketchup.

    No doubt, Heinz will continue to watch developments closely. In July, the company posted a query on its Facebook page asking customers how they liked Simply Heinz. The post received hundreds of responses.

    “We take consumer feedback seriously and are always looking for new and innovative ways to meet their changing needs,” said Ms. Jackson.

    It may take consumers awhile to figure out what they want.

    New data from Chicago research firm Mintel this week found 64 percent of consumers think high fructose corn syrup is fine in moderation but 46 percent don’t know enough about the ingredient to tell if it’s something to be concerned about.

    Meanwhile, the survey puts a number on the group that may be driving some of those changes by manufacturers: 35 percent of those who responded to the Mintel survey said they avoid any product that contains the sweetener.

    Read more here…

  • Day 218: No Candy Weekend in the Camargue

    Date: 2010.09.28 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    The Camargue is only a three-hour drive from Nice but it’s another world – perfect for a 48-hour vacation.  It’s one of the least French places in France, a vast, triangular delta where the Rhone river meets the Mediterranean.

    The Camargue is known for its semi-wild white horses, who’ve been in this region since prehistoric times, pink flamingos – and bulls.

    We saw the white horses right after we drove off the main highway south of Arles and entered this slice of flat, wide-open France-meets-Big Sky Montana world.  The 1971 cult movie, Friends, was shot here.  Pink flamingos appeared on the watery marshes and black bulls lounged in pastures.

    Best were the mini Ponderosa-style ranches that dotted the horizon.  We stayed at one (below) where we woke up to the white horses and French cowboys called gardiens who work with them and herd the bulls.  Calling Hoss and Little Joe!   Except these gardiens were about a foot shorter and very compact.

    I slept like a baby on the little ranch.

    All the ranches are inland.  The seaside village of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is at the end of the highway that cuts down from Arles to the sea.  We walked along the seafront promenade overlooking the same Mediterranean I see every day in Nice – but it seemed wilder, more like the high Atlantic seas off Biarritz.

    Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer also reminded me of Plum Island, Massachusetts and the coastal towns of southern Maine.  So it was jarring to hear the people walking near us speaking, of course, in French. I kept looking around for saltwater taffy and fudge shops but there weren’t any.

    Vincent Van Gogh painted Street in Saintes- Maries here and Tori Amos wrote a song called “Marys of the Sea.”

    The town’s name refers to the three Marys who were said to have been the first witnesses to Jesus’ empty tomb – Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary Jacobe.  According to French legend, they sailed from Egypt in the 12th century and landed here.  Their relics are in nearby churches.

    Gypsies also come here every May to worship one of the Black Madonnas that are enshrined all over Europe.  The Black Madonna here is part of the cult of St. Sara, the patron saint of the Roma.  Sara is believed to be the dark-skinned servant who accompanied the three Marys to France.

    We went on an amazing three-hour safari on a Jeep into the heart of the Camargue.  I would have preferred to go out on horses but galloping is not recommended a couple weeks after an appendectomy.

    Our fabulously eccentric guide, Alan Jacob, a Frenchman who flew seaplanes in the US, travels to Iran once a month, speaks six languages including Farsi and Arabic, and who, I told him, must have worked for a spy service, made me glad we chose the SUV tour.

    Oh, and Alan said the Mary Magdalene legend was cooked up by locals in the 19th century to encourage tourism.   He doesn’t believe the parallel tale that she was actually Jesus’ wife, either. Qui sait?

    Alan is not a croyante, or believer, as they say in French.  But he did take us to see one of the bigger versions of the  Camargue cross, which consists of three emblems – an anchor, a cross and a heart – representing the fishermen and farmers of the region.

    We had lunch Sunday inside the stone fortress (in the Petite Camargue) that makes up the town of Aigues-Mortes, literally “dead waters,” which dates back to the 10th century. Louis IX of France rebuilt the port in the 12th century as an impregnable fort and it was a launch point for the two of the Crusades.

    And then it was back to what passes for the real world for me: Nice.  The highway is always the most dangerous place for me because every now and then you have to stop at the big, American-style gas stations/fast food restaurants.  It’s the only place in France where you see shelves of candy bars and displays of ice cream bars.  And when I’m on the road, I love eating candy.

    Not this time.  Not this year.

  • Day 214: I Slipped. I Fell.

    Date: 2010.09.24 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 8

    Did it have to happen?   No, but it did.  After I had an appendectomy on Sept. 7, I went home a few days later feeling great.  Keyhole surgery is a wonderful thing – except it can fool you from realizing you just had major surgery!

    I have a lot of energy which makes it hard to rest, plus I already had one friend in house with another  expected in a couple days and two more within a week.  So I dove right back into life.  Then on Sunday night Sept. 12, I felt a cramp on my right side.  It really hurt – and I started thinking, what if it stays like that?

    I got worried about my health even though I hate being the weakling invalid with friends around who are here for fun and holiday.    So I decided to force myself to rest at home and just eat comfort foods.

    Comfort foods?  What’s the first thing that came to mind?  Rice pudding.  Not even a particular favorite of mine, but it began boring a hole in my brain.  Rice pudding.  That’s the ticket.  It will help this stomach cramp.

    I know!  If you’re going to slip during a year off candy then why not with a big slab of Swiss milk chocolate, or profiteroles, or even bake a gigantic tray of my ultra-favorite, chocolate chip cookies?

    Yes, but you have to go with the cunning and baffling logic of addiction.

    When I went down to the nearest epicerie, I went right over to the familiar tubs and containers of rice pudding.  The most popular type in France is called Riz au lait nature. That word “nature” was key to my decision to buy some rice pudding.  Even though it has sugar added to it, the word nature over here means even more than “natural” in English.  It can imply (to my appendectomy-addled brain that is) that it’s sort of like plain yogurt.

    Except it isn’t.   Yogurt isn’t a dessert to me ( and this is my addiction and my blog after all.)  I’ve written before that I’ve eaten sweetened yogurt during this Year Without Candy but I don’t eat it very much.  I don’t crave it, I don’t think about it and I don’t need to have one every day.

    Enter rice pudding.  I bought my first container about a week ago.  I’ve had it every single day since.  I ate what I intend to be my last rice pudding last night as I confess all here.

    But it was a humbling experience.  I have an old friend with many years in AA who calls falling off the wagon doing “field research.”   You go out and realize that you do have a little problem after all.

    Interesting since my slip (which I wasn’t thinking at first was a real slip,) came just before one of my friends went to the Jeff de Bruges chocolate shop here in Nice and dropped 50 euros on mouthwatering chocolate.  I enjoyed being in the chocolate shop with him.  I didn’t feel tempted to break my chocolate fast.

    But I found myself fantasizing: When I’m done with this year off candy, I’m going to be one of those moderate people who have some incredible, high-end chocolate once a week or so.  I’ll be like my friends who go weeks without ice cream or candies and can keep fantastic chocolates and other wonderful sweet treats in a kitchen cabinet and just bring them out for special events… Yes, I’m really quite sure that my days of gobbling Swedish fish and Snickers bars are far behind me.

    Not so fast.  Once I ate the first rice pudding, I noticed a pattern.  It was as if I opened up a hole in my armor and addictive feelings whizzed through it. As soon as I finished the rice pudding, I thought about buying another so there’d always be one in the refrigerator.

    During my seven months off sweets, I haven’t craved them that much.  I even noticed that at times I didn’t want to have cereal (even muesli) in the morning almost because it seemed too sweet to me and I felt myself moving toward more savory foods.

    Don’t fool yourself!  Once a sweets addict , probably always a sweets addict!

    I didn’t feel physically different after eating the rice pudding but it began to dwell on me that it was a slip when I began to focus on it and go back to the store everyday.

    Then I began to feel bummed that I’d fallen off the wagon, because I knew I had.  Even if it seems like in a small way.

    I know I did because I started bargaining with myself the way I always did when I was on candy and sweets.  I’ll just buy one more rice pudding today and that’ll be it, I said to myself. That’ll be the last one and I’ll start fresh tomorrow.

    I can’t tell you how many Last Suppers of candy I had, usually on a Sunday night. It’s a bittersweet symphony this life…

    And I hate that!  I hate the bargaining in my head. I like it when the Decision is Removed.  When all I have to do is say No.  The minute I say Maybe, all bets are off. If I keep saying maybe to rice pudding, then we move to chocolate and vanilla pudding next week, then bars of chocolate, then Haribo Polka candies and then I’ll be fully back at the Candy Races.

    I feel better adhering to life without candy.  Self-discipline = self-love.

    I ate rice pudding last night.  I am not eating today or the rest of my Year Without Candy.

    If I slip again, I’ll tell you.  But believe me, pigs will fly before I consume rice pudding before Feb. 28, 2011.

    Pray for me,

  • Day 199: The Sweet Side of Appendicitis!

    Date: 2010.09.10 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 5

    Possible #1 reason to move to France?  Their national health care system.

    Possible #1 reason to move to the south of France?  Well, if you get a killer stomachache that turns out to be appendicitis, you might land in a hospital room with a terrace and a view as good or better as any Four Seasons hotel in the world!

    Exhibit A above:  The view of Nice, Mont Boron and the Mediterranean from my recent nest of three days.

    After a tough night Monday in a full house (Lisa had just arrived from Maui via Cambridge where she dropped her daughter off for her freshman year at M.I.T.), that included dialing the SOS medecins (doctors who make house calls) at 2 a.m., we dialed the paramedics at 10 a.m.

    The SOS medecins thought it was only la colite, colitis.  Lisa, however, one among my army of girlfriends who is an expert on most everything with the conviction to match, was not convinced.  She was replete with tales of close friends snatched from the jaws of death because their appendicitises were not diagnosed correctly at first.

    Lisa (below) stopped marching around issuing dire warnings when we finally called the ambulance. I had to negotiate, though, while doubled-over in pain, not to be taken to the dreaded LA County-type hospital where ER patients are supposed to be taken.  I knew where I wanted to go.

    The top-rated Clinique St. George is high on the hill overlooking Nice, past the Chagall and Matisse museums and the ancient Roman ruins at Cimiez.  The doctor who came in to examine me was more Dr. McDreamy than any of the actors on Grey’s Anatomy – and funny to boot.

    They diagnosed appendicitis within 30 minutes and I was operated on that evening. The upside of bad stomach pain is that you don’t mind being wheeled into a Robin Cook Coma style bloc operatoire with a bunch of French-speaking strangers, at least one of which is going to cut open your abdomen while you are unconscious and helpless. You just want the pain to stop. Give me a bottle of Jim Beam, a bullet to bite and take a kitchen knife to it.

    I made a few lame witticisms about Grey’s Anatomy (obsessed much?) to the (also incredibly handsome) anesthesiologist who seemed practiced in the art of humoring prone, blue shower-cap wearing, possibly soon-to-be-gangrene-filled jokesters.  The next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room.

    The surgeon performed laparoscopic surgery, which involves going through your navel with a tiny video camera.  No scars, hardly any stitches. When he came to see me the next morning, Dr. Pascal Fabiani said my appendix, though it hadn’t yet ruptured, was particularly “sévère, brutale et aggressif.” And filled with gangrene.

    Since I’d never spent even one night in a hospital, the three I spent at St. George might spoil me forever.  Which is not to say that the food was good. Glorious French cuisine does not extend to hospitals.  I was fed a tasteless broth and sugar-free (!) applesauce and two cardboard biscottes for almost every meal. One dinner included a beige hockey puck labeled hilariously as veal.

    I was starving throughout and fantasized about food, especially all the food mentioned in the fantastic book, The Bookseller of Kabul, that I read during my hospital stay.

    One passage mentioned a feast of “pots with rice, large hunks of mutton, aubergine in yogurt sauce, noodles stuffed with spinach and garlic and potatoes with paprika sauce.”  I thought of the delicious Afghan restaurant on 9th Avenue in New York near my apartment and wished I could teleport there.

    I was only jonesing for candy a little when Andrew (left, bearing gift) showed up with, oh no, a bag from one of Nice’s best chocolatiers, Lac Chocolatier. Who remembers a silly vow of a year after you’ve just had major surgery? Well, me for one.

    And I could have easily gobbled those delicious chocolates, which remained just inches from my bed for all three days, if it weren’t for the fact that they might make me slip forever…

    The sweetest thing about having appendicitis in France?   The bill. (And yes we do pay into the system for it but still, compared to the U.S…)

    Total cost: $2060.18

    Amount I had to pay after insurance?  $160.33


    Feeling a little lighter if slightly sore…

    Gratefully yours,

  • Day 188: Meet Me Halfway: Six Months Without Candy

    Date: 2010.08.30 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    In my favorite childhood game, Candyland, you pass by a peppermint forest and an ice cream sea as I kind of did early this morning driving the Grande Corniche from Eze Village down to my current hometown: Nice, France.

    I zoomed past orange, olive and pine trees and a spellbinding panorama stretching west to Monaco, St. Jean Cap Ferrat and so far out into the glittering Mediterranean that you could  fool yourself that you were seeing Corsica.

    With the dry, clear, warm air, this was prime Grace Kelly To Catch a Thief (1955) territory.  (Some of the most famous scenes in the film were filmed along the Grande Corniche. Years later, as Princess Grace, she died in a car accident on the road linking the Grande Corniche to the Moyenne Corniche.)

    But slowly I started to wind down the road and too soon, I was back into the familiar grit and bustle of Nice.

    I had to wait until this morning to make sure I made it halfway through my Year Without Candy.  ( I didn’t want to jinx matters by writing this until the first six months were in the bag.)

    As I wrote in Learn the Ancient Secret to Kicking the Candy Habit, the only reason I’ve been able to go without candy and sweets is the shame I would feel if I fell off the wagon because of this public blog.  What – you thought it was a Higher Power?

    I’m surprised at the results.  Here’s why:

    1.  It was easier than I thought.  I did this once before, in 2002 and 2003, and it seemed to me it was more difficult, that I had more cravings.

    2. I have cravings, but they pass fast. For example, I’ll be walking through my neighborhood in Vieux Nice which is packed with tourists eating fantastic ice cream and sublime gelato and I’ll take a hit.  I’ll want it and be mad I can’t have it.  Then two seconds later my brain focuses on something else.  Having my decision to give up sweets be absolutely black-and-white makes it much easier.  I can’t be trusted to decide how often I’ll eat candy.  I have one choice: tell myself NO.

    3.  While it hasn’t been a big struggle, nor have I had felt some miraculous Tony Robbins-meets-Oprah-Winfrey insta-change.  I haven’t lost a ton of weight or sprung out of bed every morning with whiter eyes and a new lease on life.

    4.  For the first time in my life, I sometimes recoil from food that I think might be too sweet, like breakfast cereal. This is unheard of for me and must be the result of my tastebuds being deprived of sugar and losing interest in it.

    4. The main change was unexpected:  I see things much more clearly.  I’m not sure I’ve lost the rose-colored glasses I’ve always had but I don’t wear them nearly as much.  It’s a bittersweet experience. Sometimes I miss the naivete. But it was as if I came in for a very serious landing after a long flight and my ears suddenly unblocked.

    I have had two quasi-slips in six months.  I say “quasi” because neither time it was my idea nor were they sweets that I ever eat or crave.

    One time was when I was in Singapore in May. I wrote about how a friend there persuaded me to dip a fried banana (no sugar on that) into a sugary sauce and I did. It was a tiny dip!

    The second was just 10 days ago when some houseguests were leaving and another friend spontaneously brought over some almond croissants for everyone.  Plain croissants are fine but these had some sweet almond paste on them.  I just went along with everyone and ate one.  Fortunately, they weren’t that sweet and they’re not something I’d ever buy myself.

    I had a third even tinier slip during this same period when my friend Livia made a tiramisu in the kitchen before a party I was giving. I had to slice the tiramisu in pieces and I completely forgot (yes I did, bitches) not  to lick the knife afterward.

    Those three mini-slips didn’t break the overall covenant though.  I barely thought about them.

    Sometimes people don’t understand what I am giving up but it’s in the ABOUT section of the blog.  I am not like my friend Connie Bennett of who pretty much goes without any sugar.

    I eat things that contain sugar like peanut butter or ketchup or granola cereal but rarely. I don’t crave them so they’re not an issue.  And while I usually have plain yogurt with Stevia instead of sugar, I’ve had sweetened yogurt at times.  What I don’t eat are what I consider treats:  candy, chocolate, ice cream, cookies cakes, pies, cupcakes, milkshakes, lemon tarts etc. – what Americans call “dessert.”  They are what is addictive for me.

    I drink coffee now and then but I’ve trained myself to drink it black or with milk but no sugar. Green tea is my favorite and doesn’t need sugar.

    Interesting what I heard during the last official day of the first six months without sugar.  I was up in Vence, a hill town 45 minutes outside of Nice to listen to a writer-in-residence at the NALL Art Association and Foundation. The writer, Tim Wallace-Murphy, writes books on spiritual themes in the Grail genre. Murphy presents a history of ancient symbolism and talks about secret societies like the Knights Templar. Tim gives talks to provoke more than instruct.

    It was the day after Glenn Beck’s “Restore Honor” dumbtard-o-rama in Washington D.C.   It was refreshing to sit in Nall’s sprawling house on the hill, the mysterious Col de Vence above us, and listen about the men back in the Middle Ages who challenged the church and the burgeoning industry of Christianity.   They believed Jesus was a great teacher with great initiates, not that he was God.    They were hooked into true Christ consciousness, not the Virgin Birth and a shroud.

    Watching the slide show of the symbology revealed on a series of paintings and sculptures was much easier to understand while not under the influence of candy.

    Which is one of many reasons I’m thrilled I had the idea to give up candy for a year and thrilled I’ve lasted this long.  Maybe my story wouldn’t cut it for a O Magazine feature or in Reader’s Digest, but my life has come into such sharper focus that it’s made it a deeper kind of adventure.

    I’d urge anyone reading this to try giving up a vice that doesn’t make you feel good – even for just six months or a year.  You can do it.

    The last thing I’ll say is that as a result of giving up sweets, I feel much less special than I used to. I used to think all my friends were special, my family too, and  just that my life in general was an incredibly unique drama with unlimited possibilities.

    I see the horizon now, but I like what I see because the view is clearer, as it was from the Grande Corniche this morning.

    I no longer feel the need to seek as much as I used to.  I just want to keep working and keep having fun and see if I make it another six months, at least, without candy.

  • Day 184: “Teenage Dream” Smells Like Cotton Candy

    Date: 2010.08.27 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0


    From Kyle Anderson at MTV.Com:

    Of all the news that came out of the build-up to Katy Perry’s new album Teenage Dream (including the ultra-sexy album cover, the list of potential collaborators and early leaks like “Circle the Drain”), the most intriguing (and bizarre) was the fact that the actual packaging was going to smell like cotton candy. When Perry first announced that particular detail, it not only seemed too gimmicky but also impossible. How was she going to pull that off, and what purpose would it actually serve?

    Filled with skepticism, I ducked into a store on Wednesday afternoon (August 25) to test it out for myself. After locating the album in the section reserved for new releases (of which there were few — perhaps a good sign for Perry’s opening week sales), I managed to snag it. It’s rare that I’m even in music stores nowadays (and not for lack of trying — were you aware that New York City doesn’t even have an FYE any more?) and it’s even stranger that I’d be holding a copy of a brand new CD (most of the compact discs I buy are used, and most of my new music comes either digitally or on vinyl), so even the experience of exploring album packaging was strange and unfamiliar. It’s an impressive presentation (I especially like that there’s no writing on the front cover) and made me feel nostalgic for the days when I would pedal my bike to the local Coconuts to pick up Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness or Red Hot Chili Peppers’ One Hot Minute.

    Continue reading the story here…

  • Day 183: Where’d You Go?

    Date: 2010.08.26 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 3

    Where’d you go, I miss you so, seems like it’s been forever that you’ve been gone, please come back home, please come back home

    In two days I’ll be six months without candy.  I’m still off sweets and it hasn’t been that hard.  More about that on the 28th.  But it’s so easy to let the discipline of writing a blog like this slip away. I’ve done that.  My summer has been too much fun; houseguests, parties, adventures, such great times but not enough time to do all the work I want to do. Not  to mention this blog.

    I still have six months left to go of a Year Without Candy and I don’t want to blow it.  The only reason I’ve been able to stop eating candy is because this blog has kept me on the straight and narrow.

    And this summer life got in the way – and I’ve stopped tending to this blog.   I hate the feeling of… letting something go.

    Can you get it back once you let go?  Will you get more and more off track?

    You know when you start to procrastinate it becomes a bit like a bad drug; you don’t want to keep doing it but you do.  Not doing something you want and should be doing begins to weigh on you, you start to feel guilty, then all the joy goes out of it – and you just don’t do it.

    Ugh.  Then what?  I feel bad about not writing the blog and one day I decide, hey maybe I’ll just have that one bag of M&Ms.  Which sounds so good as I write this.

    I remember being at this crazy British, ex-armed forces military fitness camp in Devon, England in October 2008.   They kept us on the run from 5 a.m. when we had to get in formation until 10 at night.  We were jumping off cliffs into the sea off Brixton, mountain biking up and down stone-walled hill roads, boxing, rubbing camouflage on our faces and heading out on military maneuvers with rifles -even playing an exotic British game called netball that I had never heard of.

    But it was playing cricket (the name alone, please) that stood out in my mind. One of the ex-British Navy drill instructors kept laughing at me as I whacked the ball way out in the field but kept dropping the bat when I ran to base as if it was American baseball.  (You’re supposed to keep holding the bat, who knew?)

    My team as a whole was losing badly as I got up to bat (do they even say that in cricket? I can’t remember.)

    Anyway he yelled at me something meant for our entire team and I always keep it in the back of my mind because it’s so true.

    “You can still win!”

  • Day 177: Ear Candy!

    Date: 2010.08.22 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

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This American candy addict/journalist in France writes about quitting candy – and all desserts – for at least one year beginning Feb. 28, 2010. Follow my progress – or relapses – as I delete candy corn, moelleux au chocolat, peppermint patties, Carambars, tarte tatin, After Eights, crème brûlée, Nutella, tapioca pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream, Haribo Polkas, M & Ms and more from my life. Learn about the evils of white sugar and its effects on mood and health from my interviews with experts and friends! Let the sugar fog lift!

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