Monday, July 11, 2011

The Case of the Missing Sweet Tea

I'm born and raised in the south, where sweet tea might as well be part of the state constitution. It's sold by the gallon, gulped and slurped through straws in styrofoam go-cups, and practically poured into baby bottles.  So naturally, I hear all the time from people who want to lose weight that, "I'll never be able to give up my sweet tea." 

I just nod and smile because I've been there and thought the same thing. I've never been a sweet tea drinker myself (I blame that on my midwestern parents) but diet soda?  We used to go steady. I'd go through four cans of Diet Vanilla Coke in the course of one football game (that's what kept me from eating chips, dip, wings, and pigs in a blanket).  Eventually, though, I wised up to the damage of artificial sweeteners and weaned myself off. Now I've been soda free for going on five years. *applause!*

Sugar, whether it is real or artificial, has a death grip on our country. I'm not exaggerating too much - we're learning more and more about the role that sugar plays in obesity and disease. So it's imperative that we start creating strategies for getting off sugar and retraining our tastebuds to appreciate food and drinks without it.  I help people create these strategies all the time, and nothing makes me happier than two recent events that had me smiling from ear to ear.

The first was my incredibly handsome and witty husband. I've been systematically lowering our sugar intake for years, but he continued to drink his coffee with loads of artificial sweetener. I felt like such a hypocrite buying it at the store and would want to hide it under other groceries in case I saw someone I knew. But, he's an adult and it's his coffee so whatver.  Well, a couple of weeks ago he stirred up his coffee, took a sip, and made a face. Looking at his mug with an upturned lip he said, "I just can't drink this stuff anymore. It tastes way too sweet!"  Then he wanted to know why I was smiling so much. I filled him in on some exciting news - his taste buds were changing. Enough sugar had started to be eliminated from our nutrition that his taste buds were actually changing. I had a very hard time not doing the happy dance right there. 

Then last week a friend who is on her way to becoming a Wellness Without Pity success story (13 lbs down, yahoo!) confided that what she thought was the impossible, giving up sweet tea, was happening. On a road trip, she ordered sweet tea thinking she would splurge and treat herself. The shock of the sweetness was too much and she simply couldn't drink it. Again I couldn't contain my smile. Just a few months ago she had stood before me and adamantly sworn that she would not, could not, absolutely positively had no intentions of giving up her sweet tea, ever.

Well, until her tastebuds changed.  Now she just plain doesn't care for it.

I'm estatic over these two cases.  To me, it's proof that deliberate behavior change can achieve more than we ever dreamed possible in our nutrition if we just give it a try.  I've been there. I have a sweet tooth, too. But I don't live with the paralysis of thinking I am destined to a life of obesity because of it.

Give your tastebuds a fighting chance against sugar.  I promise you 100% they can and will change if you give them time. If you need help, let me know.  I love to do the happy dance.

Now get out there and get healthy!

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