Place: Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington D.C.
Occasion: My 35th birthday
What: Sweet Indulgence
Almost three whole years have gone by and I have managed to stay sane without indulging in sugar. I've thrived, actually. Every New Year's Eve I've asked myself if I can let go and indulge a little. So far I have not wanted to taste sugar again.
At some point on my birthday, however, I decided that I might try a little dessert if the occasion presented itself.
Jeff and I enjoyed a very late night dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill and I asked to see the dessert menu.
(I've frequently thought about taking a bite of something deliciously, sinfully sweet, just a bite, but then fear becoming a full-fledged addict all over again. No taste in this world would make it worth it. And yet, does this total denial make me an obsessed freak?)
After a small dinner on the night of my birthday, the server brought out a chocolate cappuccino brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, covered with layers of fresh whipped cream. I knew this was going to be outrageously delicious. I planned to attack the dessert from the top down, one layer of whipped cream at a time before diving into the chewy brownie. I salivated in anticipation.
As I began to undress the brownie's sweet layers of whipped cream, a monster impulse came out of me and I began to greedily take large spoonfulls of brownie, covered in ice cream and whipped cream. I savored the flavors of chocolate and espresso and vanilla just long enough to swallow quickly before taking another bite.
This lasted all of four bites.
I reached my tolerance for sweet so quickly that I set my spoon down in surprise. I had not anticipated this. I planned to take advantage of the situation and eat the entire dessert, until the very last drop of melted ice cream and crumb of brownie were resting in my belly. I didn't care if I ate too much, just this once.
I sat back and looked at Jeff. He was holding his spoon, ready and waiting to pick up where I left off. I told him I had had enough. I couldn't even imagine taking one more bite. He asked me if I could "taste the sugar" and honestly I was not able to break down the ingredients like that. My mouth just began to need water and reject the mere idea of more sweet. It was simple and complicated.
I sat back and enjoyed watching my husband devour the almost fully intact dessert. He lives for chocolate and has this raging sweet tooth all the time. He asked me if we should tell our server what a significant dessert this was for me. The server came by and cleared our table and Jeff and I looked at each other, knowing that this would be our little secret.
As we walked outside, past the White House and down the street to our car, Jeff asked if I would eat sugar again anytime soon. Instantly pictures of donuts and cookie dough and ice cream flooded my imagination. I could take my pick. I could be done with this silly sugar-free kick and enjoy life! But I shook my head and tried to explain the strange sensation that I felt.
"As good as that brownie ice cream sundae tasted, a better feeling emerged from my brain as I stopped eating it and watched you enjoy it," I said, unsure how to explain this feeling. "These past few years I have watched so many people enjoy desserts, as I sip lemon water or tea. In the beginning I felt somewhat resentful and angry at myself for having such a dumb resolution to not eat sugar, but it morphs into something else. This is going to sound twisted, but I'll try to explain: As I watch other people eat dessert, I see that people are weak around sugar--which I recognize easily, because I am weak around sugar, too. They are victims to their sweet tooth and eat and eat until their stomach is about to explode, and after dinner will confess that they ate too much but couldn't stop. I feel a certain strength in passing on dessert because I know I will feel good about myself."
Too many times in the past (okay, almost every time) when presented with dessert, I overate. I would beat myself up for losing control, while suffering from a full, bloated belly. I would swear to have more willpower next time, but "next time" I never had that willpower I promised myself. It was a vicious cycle that never changed until that first day of the year, 2008, when I kicked sugar's butt.
After quitting sugar for two years and nine months and then finally eating a sugary dessert, my conclusion is that nothing tastes as good as feeling good about myself feels.
Back to my boring sugar-free ways...
Just kidding! Sugar free is not boring at all. Look around my blog for recipes and stories. Being sugar-free is actually quite an adventure, and I look forward to many more years of freedom from the white stuff.