Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Radical change

About a year ago, I decided to live according to the No-S Diet. Since my image-conscious teenage years, I've never been one to follow any kind of diet; low-carb completely passed me by, for example. But I got intrigued by the No-S Diet when Mark Pittilo linked to it in his 2007 Archies list.

I've always had a sweet tooth, and thanks to my dad's similar cravings, no meal at our house was ever complete without cookies, cake, or ice cream, alone or in combination. When I read about the diet, I thought it might be worth a try to rid myself of the habit of eating big desserts after every meal.

With few exceptions, I've stuck to the rules. No sweets except on the weekend. (Although I start the weekend after dinner on Friday, like Orthodox Jews.) Seconds and snacks have never been my besetting sins, so I didn't have much trouble adhering to those strictures. Now I look forward to my dark chocolate indulgences on Saturday and Sunday, and miss the sugary stuff much less the other four and a half days of the week.

I haven't lost any weight, but that was never my goal with the diet. To lose weight, I tend to exercise rather than restricting my food intake. And keeping up with a regular exercise plan has been difficult this year. I have a class scheduled at my usual gym time this semester, and it's taken all I've got just to get there once a week the past two weeks. I just haven't been able to figure out how to make it fit without sacrificing what I need to be doing at home, not to mention the tendency of crises at work to cut into my best intentions. But I haven't gained any weight either, and given my exercise inconsistency, I suppose that's a victory.

But now comes more news about the role of diet soda in weight management. Now those of you who know me are aware that I've gradually increased the role of diet soda in my life, dating from the introduction of Diet Coke when I was sixteen and continuing to the present day, when I drink very little else. But I was startled by the phrase "abdominal obesity" (also known as central obesity) in news reports about the latest study. I've been accumulating belly fat since my pregnancies, and it's not just love handles, folks -- it's a gut. My center of gravity has changed.

My main goal in starting to exercise again after Archer was born was to get rid of it, but although I powered through plateau after plateau in my workout, the belly fat stayed. And then after Cady Gray was born, it was that much more. What I used to be able to dismiss as postpartum flabbiness is now a full-fledged distended abdomen. It's not loose and floppy. You could thump it like a ripe watermelon. It's stuffed with fat.

Can I add another S to my No-S Diet -- no soda? I've been wanting to cut back on my intake (to limit damage to my teeth, help my calcium absorption, and reduce my caffeine consumption). And here's another reason -- if this research is correct, it could keep me from getting fatter. Maybe what I need is not a general resolve to cut back, but a system to define what "cutting back" means -- like "only on the weekend." That's the genius of the No-S Diet.

I'm getting thirsty just thinking about it, actually. But I'm going to mull over a switch to water, fruit juice, and chai. Surely if I can stay away from chocolate 9/14 of the time, I can work up the willpower to avoid aspertame, too.


Justin Ray said...

I used to be hopelessly addicted to Wild Cherry Pepsi and Coca-Cola. But one day, I decided to stop drinking sodas. And it only took a week or two before I realized that soda really sucks. All that carbonated fizziness that goes down so smooth but leaves you with a sickeningly syrupy aftertaste for hours and really bad breath...you can do without.

There is so much better stuff out there: tea, lemonade, cranberry juice, French-pressed coffee, gin... Don't think of it as giving up soda. Think of it as upgrading to something that isn't the funk. Do you really want to drink industrial sludge?

Eric Grubbs said...

I was a Coca-Cola fan for years. I didn't drink it everyday, but whenever we out to eat, I had it to drink. Sometime during college, I became a Sprite fan. After I graduated, I slowly phased all cola out. These days, I drink mostly water, milk and OJ.

I rarely snack, but when it comes to seconds, if I'm still hungry, I go back for more.

I want to ask though: do you consider Red Bull soda?

Meeshell said...

My father stopped drinking soda completely a couple years ago because of the same reasons. And his central axis, so to speak, shrank immediately. He couldn't completely make the shift to water, so he's addicted to Diet Snapple, an amazing concoction if you check out the nutrition facts.

Good luck!

Jenn said...

Interesting "diet"...I like it! How sensible. Some of the stuff he talks about reminds me of Pollan's writing (whom I adore), so if you have a chance and are interested, I'd recommend The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.

Soda can be rough to get rid of--it's addictive and pernicious stuff (I'm totally with Justin there!) But it's also bad for your health in many ways. I've discovered that once I quit drinking/eating anything with fake sugar, my system can no longer tolerate it, and I feel bad if I do. So no more diet soda (or Crystal Light To Go) for me!

Timothy said...

I stopped drinking soda for Lent, and I don't really miss it. I've switched to unsweetened iced tea, but I have to admit I use artificial sweetener. I put it in my coffee, too. As for not eating sweets during the week--well, I'll think about that after grad school is over. I'm willing to make an argument that my daily sweet treats are what keep me off of hard drugs and malt liquor.

doafy said...

I used to drink Coke pretty religiously. Supporting myself helped me with this, as well as the husband going on the South Beach Diet. I found that if I had no soda in the house, I really wouldn't miss it, though I occasionally drink it when I go out. Most of the time the cheapskate in me wins, however, and I get water with my meal.

If it's not available, it's a *very* attainable goal. I might try a different tactic than "only on the weekends" though, because then you'll have it in the house for the weekends.