the sweet life

A week ago my friend asked me which of what he calls my “diet restrictions” (and I call eating healthy) I’d choose to do for life, no cheats, no exceptions.

I hesitate to share what I said since it turned out a be a very controversial and widely unpopular choice. I answered “no sugar.” (Which I hypothetically defined as “any natural sugar that has been separated from its source and concentrated,” so maple syrup, evaporated milk and most fruit juice would count, but honey wouldn’t.) The reactions I got to this varied from, “That’s impossible.” to “Why would you want to do that?” to “Not even you could manage that.”

It’s just not ever a good idea to tell me I can’t do something.

Leonardo da Vinci on mastery

Two days later I was still thinking about it. I was out at dinner with this same friend and I (yes, I) suggested I put my money where my mouth is, or put my mouth where sugar isn’t, or something like that. We settled on a bet of “no sugar till Thanksgiving.” If I last, he treats me to all-you-can-eat sushi and drinks at my favorite restaurant. If I don’t, I treat him to the same.

I’ll admit, that may seem a low pay-off for two and a half months without dessert. But that’s not really the point.

“I’m testing the boundaries of my needs,” as Leo Babuata said about his Year of Living Without project, “It’s good to test your personal boundaries now and then (or, if you’re me, all the time).” There are few places in this first-world, upper-middle-class, fairly-entitled life I was (and maybe you were) born into where those boundaries get tested. I mean, outside of parenthood, or enlisting in the army.

Paul on what's good for you

There is some part of me that believes you’ll never find out what’s absolutely necessary in life without first finding out what’s not. (I guess that’s what makes me an aspiring minimalist.) So while cutting out sugar may help me live to see a few more Thanksgivings, I’m oddly curious what else it will help me see.