I find myself, at age 44 – not 43 as I whimsically suggested on Sunday - in need of artificial stimulants to get me through the day. Around lunchtime the weariness starts to set in. MUST. GET. DIET. COKE.
Thanks to my friends, I’ve been subjected to enough depressing posts on Facebook to know Diet Coke isn’t a healthy beverage. So I’ve decided to give it up, along with wheat, lactose and sugar. I’m also working on reducing my alcohol consumption.
Yesterday was Day 1 Without Fun. Well, I did have two glasses of wine, but that was because I was cooking a risotto. I can’t really be expected to open a bottle of wine to make risotto and not drink some. That’d be a pretty big ask.
In the lead up to ditching Diet Coke, I agonised over caffeine replacements. I am not a hot beverage person. It took me 40 years to come at peppermint tea. So cups of coffee were out. I’m quite fond of sugar-free V, but I figure it’s just as bad for me as Diet Coke. I considered snacking on NoDoz tablets for afternoon tea, but that didn’t seem very sensible. So I decided to recreate a Coffee Bean And Tea Leaf Caramel Iced Blended at home.
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is a chain not dissimilar to Starbucks. I frequent it when in Singapore and America. It does these sugar-free caramel iced coffees that are totally moreish.
So I bought myself a bag of caramel-infused coffee and some lactose-free long-life milk at Woolies, but forgot about a sugar substitute. Even being a coffee novice, I was pretty sure I couldn’t come at an unsweetened caffeinated beverage.
Have you ever Googled sugar substitutes? It’s a pretty depressing old search. For every site insisting something is great, there are another 10 suggesting it might kill you. Splenda, Equal, Sweet N’Low, Stevia, agave syrup … there are nervous nellies for them all.
(And then there’s Miracle Fruit. Sprog 1 was given one during a show at Questacon recently – it’s an African berry extract that makes sour things taste super sweet – but the guy forgot to tell her to suck it, not swallow it. So she swallowed it. Ooops. I was wondering why he didn’t just give her another one until I looked them up and discovered they’re $2.50 a tablet, plus shipping. Apparently within a few minutes of sucking one you can drink glasses of vinegar and think they taste like Fanta. Twentysomething geeky guys think it’s hilarious to do this until they start rolling around on the floor, clutching their stomachs from acidic overdoses.)
I settled on Stevia. I figured at least it was from a plant, not a test tube. I wandered up to the local supermarket, only to discover it was out of the stuff. So I trawled the organic/healthy/expensive aisle and found a French organic caramel sauce made with agave syrup (also a plant).
I went home and brewed my first pot of plunger coffee. I let it cool. I poured in some lactose-free milk. I stirred in some caramel sauce. I tasted it. Disgusting. Really needed lots of crushed ice, which I didn’t have. But I forced myself to drink it anyway.
I found myself singing cheerily as I prepped dinner. I noted that my hands were trembling as I julienned the carrots. I felt a bit spacey.
Definitely under the influence.
I still can’t decide if it was in a good way. And the thought of going through that whole palaver every day, just to get high, wasn’t a pleasant one.
So I went cold turkey yesterday. No caramel iced-coffees, no Diet Coke, no V. I made it through, just.
I think it might have been more sensible to wait until I didn’t have PMT to give up caffeine.
Life is a much darker room right now.