Two of my GP’s first instructions to me after my diagnosis was one, ditch sugar, and two, not to use sugar substitutes.
No sugar or gum syrup in my coffee and tea. No cookies, cakes or pies. I understood ditching sugar, but staying away from sugar substitutes as well? Were they harmful to my health? That wasn’t it. My GP’s reason was very simple – he wanted me to wean myself off sweets. If not, I will have a major long-term struggle adjusting to a life of diabetes. Sweets surround us, diabetic or not, everywhere we go. Whether I like it or not, I will be constantly tempted at dinners, parties, networking functions and other social events. I would be constantly tempted just by the sight of sugar. He knew how much I loved sweets. Whatever the reason, at that time, I was willing to do what my GP wanted.
Deal with sugar first. Piece of cake! But I underestimated my severe addiction to sweetness. The fact was I did not know how addicted I was to sugar. Like the great Hercule Poirot, I used to put 3 teaspoons of sugar in my coffee. I loaded my tea with gum syrup, and drowned my strawberries in condensed milk. I snacked on chocolates – except bitter, dark chocolate.
The following weeks were hellish. My experience must have been close to what Renton in Trainspotting went through. All right, that’s an exaggeration. But I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I would rather run through the Sahara Desert in summer than cut out sugar.
Especially in my coffee. I drink coffee by the bucket and, as I said earlier, with a lot of sugar. How could anyone drink that bitter black liquid without any sweetener? Without my sweet coffee, I was the quintessence of meanness, spite, and cantankerous attitude. I was able to keep Ms. Hyde at bay in the office but not at home. My dear husband bore the brunt of it (I tell you, I’m nominating him for sainthood).
Then, one Sunday afternoon, while my husband and I were at one of our favorite restaurants, I asked for cappuccino. I spat out what they gave me because it was sweet. I complained to our server and explained to him that I was detoxing from sugar. He assured me that they do not put sugar in their cappuccino and that it’s the same recipe they used the last time I was there. I forcefully insisted it was sweet and that therefore they put sugar in it. My husband, who was obviously embarrassed by my allegation, intervened. He tasted my cappuccino and assured me that it harbored no sugar.
Unbelievable. My taste buds changed. Sweetness no longer had control over me (well, most of the time). I knew then, without doubt, that I can control my Type 2 diabetes.
I still want sweets sometimes, but I’ve not put sugar in my coffee or tea since, and I’ve developed a fondness for dark, dark chocolate.