Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Diet Coke Update

It has been almost seven months since I quit cold turkey, and there has been hardly a day in which I haven't longed for that elixir called Diet Coke. Surprisingly, it was easiest in the beginning, when the enormity of the break wasn't fully upon me, and I was taking it literally one day at a time, and the goal of staying cola free until New Year's was the only milestone in sight, an arbitrary date set by my spouse to keep me on the straight and narrow until the urge receded.

No such luck. But I did still have the ability to pat myself on the back and say, "good job," and congratulate myself on my healthier lifestyle, guzzling water and green tea instead of bottles of artificially flavored brown stuff, and setting a better example for the kids.

But then I picked up my newspaper the other day and discovered there were worse things than drinking Diet Coke, and I'd probably been doing them in the cause of "health." After reading about Nalgene pulling their water bottles from the shelves, I did the same in our house. Seven of the things, in varying colors, lined our counter, dangerous, the article said, especially when used with warm or hot beverages, such as the aforementioned green tea or decaf coffee I'd guzzled from them on a daily basis. All that water and green tea I'd been drinking, out of a poisoned cup.

I just about had a heart attack when the article mentioned sippy cups, sure that brain and behavior changes due to Bisphenol A (the ingredient of Nalgene bottles now labeled dangerous in Canada) were the root of our son's autism, but relaxed again when the bottoms of his had recycling labels on them indicating a safer plastic.

Being healthier just got more complicated. How is easy it would be to justify my bad habits by saying that anything I do would be dangerous, why hold back selectively? Breathing brings in pollution, water toxins, and milk antibiotics. My tuna sandwich may have mercury, the cantaloupe be coated in salmonella, and god only knows who's been pushing my grocery cart before me? How much suffering should one go through for healthy habits, when they may prove to be more dangerous than the stupid ones you had before?

Not that going without Diet Coke is suffering much compared to, say, quitting heroin, but it is my substitute addiction, and my constant habit since sixteen, which is a long, long time ago now, though not quite as long ago as Star Wars. It was my food crutch, my calorie-free caffeine habit, and it is doing everything I can not to head off to a Seven-Eleven right now (life has been just a little stressful lately) for a quick fix.

My new arbitrary timeline focuses on the year date. If I can make it through one year, maybe I can quit for good. If I can last through the summer, maybe I can pat myself on the back for all the plastic I've saved the environment. If I can make it through today, it will be a miracle.

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