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

    Date: 2010.08.30 | Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

    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 SugarShock.com 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.