Learning that huge bowls of ice cream were no longer on my menu was worse than hearing a judge hand down a life sentence to hard labor. I was going to be a zombie, a walking undead member of the human race, cursed to wander through the world without ever again participating or appreciating the wild variations in human dietary experience.
The doctor told me I was pre-diabetic and would have to eliminate most of the processed sugary foods from my diet.
My father was diabetic, and I've always been sensitive to sugar. But growing up with the standard teenage ability to be oblivious to the rest of the world and yet remain surly towards everything around me, I barely noticed the changes in my father's diet as his diabetes progressed, and the impact it had on his food choices.
I was at the cinema the other day and I realized I would be unable to buy my usual box of Milk Duds, jumbo-sized Hot Tamales and half-liter of Coca Cola. I asked the manager, “So do you have anything without sugar in it?”
She looked thoughtful for a second as she took money from some pimply-faced kid buying three boxes of M&Ms. With a helpful lilt in her voice, she said, “I've got popcorn and Slim Jims.”
That's what I've been reduced to, puffed grain kernels and salted mystery meat. Later I learned I couldn't eat the industrial meat scraps, because there's actually a heap of sugar in a chunk of pseudo-jerky.
During the show, I watched my kids eat their candy at the theater, and there is a part of me that was and will remain jealous. Why is it that these kids, who I have fed and cared for the past 15 years, get the pleasure of spending my hard-earned money on foods that are now forbidden to me?
The next day I was reaching into my bag of sugar free gelatin cubes, the evening's lovely snack, and I recalled fondly how just a few weeks ago, I would look forward to my own personal tub of ice cream, which I would dress up into something I thought of as Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Kersplosion. I would savor a gallon of that for a few days, always chasing the kids away from it, because that was my special treat.
Now I dine on measured portions of watermelon.
If I want a cookie, I choke down sugar free wafers with a dark shell that taste somewhat like a real cookie covered in chocolate, but only the same way that a arthritic Chihuahua reminds you of Old Yeller.
It’s amusing to watch what happens when the kids try my special foods.
“Papa, do you mind if I have a drink of your juice?”
He poured himself a big cup of sugar free juice and took a big drink. “Hey, this doesn't taste like juice.”
“Nope. It sure doesn't. Want some more?”
I know what it tastes like, I think and take another sip of the vile stuff. The dog leaves puddles of it on the driveway every morning.
“No thanks, Papa. Uh, can I put the rest of this back?”
The stuff costs more than real food, so I tell him it's okay to pour it back. Besides, without any sugars, if a bit of bacteria is still in the glass, it is just going to die like a castaway dehydrating in the middle of the ocean.
I glance thoughtfully at my son as he pours the juice back into the jar like a scientist handling explosive chemicals. Maybe if I can keep from falling into full diabetes, I can manage to escape slipping into a diabetic coma. If I live long enough to be able to send him to school, perhaps he can learn how to make a decent glass of sugar-free juice. I start puzzling how Mrs. Chef and I can afford to send him to chemical engineering school. I've almost come up with a solution when I take another sip of juice, and the taste makes me lose my train of thought.
It's amazing what a person will do to satiate the craving for sugar.
We have these frozen treats for the dog. The treats look like those small ice cream cups people would buy from the a la carte line at the high school cafeteria.
A Frosty Paw tastes a little like frozen oatmeal, and that's about it. Mostly tasteless. It would taste a lot better if I could cover it in chocolate syrup.
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