Turning Wine Back Into Water

Communion CWMGaryDue to a nagging health issue, it has become alarming clear that I really have to eliminate sugar and alcohol from my diet. I’ve been reading about this worst case scenario for years, so it was not a when the news came yesterday that if I am serious about my health, I will do more than merely feel guilty as I delight at the gluten free bakery.

As I write this, I can only think of the incredulous emails I will receive from friends with whom I have downed countless pints of Guinness and emptied hundreds of wine bottles. It will be one thing to turn down birthday cake, but to refuse a champagne toast as well? When I finally do make it back to Galway could I possibly be so crazy as to ask for a club soda when I get everyone to go back to the Crane with me? When we go to beer gardens of Munich this summer will I smile and ask for a really, really big stein of water?

I am mourning all of the wineries in Napa I have never visited and thinking that I never enjoyed local honey enough when I had a chance, but is this really an issue of any worthy, never mind spiritual, import? At this point, I am not sure how all of this gastronomical denial will really affect me. Presumably, it will be much simpler to keep weight off during the holidays and I guess I will be more likely to remember the details of reunions with long lost friends if I do not lubricate my late night chatter with a nice Cabernet. But, at the same time I wonder what it will be like to be excluded from what seem to be amongst the major tenets of my culture: eat (whatever you like), drink (more than a little bit), and be merry (with the glow of all that has passed your lips).

Actually, part of that is really quite untrue – I have been avoiding gluten for a few years now so “eating whatever I want” is made of the stuff of distant memory to be stored next to pulling all-nighters in college and thinking Tom Cruise was attractive. Initially, it seemed impossible that I might have to live without bagels, but eventually I just realized feeling like an entirely different person made baguettes less essential. It just seems so much to excise even more wonderful edible possibilities from my already limited menu.

Of course, this realization is just over twenty-four hours old, so I am still trapped in bemoaning all that I will miss instead of focusing on finding what else there is to really enjoy as I have sagely been advised to do. As I try to cultivate mindfulness, it seems there can be no better way than to be compelled to pay even stricter attention to what nourishes me body and soul and what might be so much good tasting poison.
As I prepare to move through life that is not enriched by chocolate covered strawberries, I wonder what new sugar free, gluten free treats with high price tags and way too much packaging I will discover at the natural food store. It seems so strange that I will be driven, with many others I am sure, to the pricey aisles of such stores in pursuit of a life devoid of such perfectly natural plants as wheat and sugar cane, fermented grapes and aromatic hops. What does it mean when the modern diet (or in my case, modern medicine) has proven so detrimental that it sends us past eating like natural, conscientious omnivores to become odd niche eaters with strict lists and an overdependence on rice cakes? It will open a whole new set of challenges to try to live a more authentic life connected to this earth when I have to respectfully decline so many fruits of the soil and gnaw on some more broccoli. I’ll let you know if such obstacles seem worth it…

6 thoughts on “Turning Wine Back Into Water

  1. americanyogini March 12, 2008 / 9:29 pm

    you could do a juice fast – all green juices without fruits- to clear away all the sugar, heal the body, and eliminate the cellular memory. if you are east coast you could try one at americanyogini.com

  2. Susanne March 13, 2008 / 7:02 am

    I have managed to live without (white) sugar and alcohol for a couple of weeks last year. I have yet to get back to it but I can tell you – I felt so much better!

  3. Ruaidhrí March 13, 2008 / 12:50 pm

    First of all hope you’re feeling okay!

    But dare I ask why and how this realisation came to be?

    Cutting down on refined sugar is a good thing-but you’re hardly a sugar fiend are you?It’s not as if you have my coke drinking habit (of about a litre a day which is too much I know but well there you go) or indeed Mike’s coke drinking habit(several gallons a day). But there’s no medical need to cut it out of your diet completly, unless you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes(which I hope you haven’t been). As I remember you already eat a much more healthier diet than the Standard American Diet, with plenty of veggies and fish and so on. Why the need to become even stricter?And unless said reason comes from a proper doctor or dietician, you know I’m going to come back saying unto you the noise of a duck. 🙂

    And I won’t even comment on the alchol. I will however ask you to take back the slur on the divine blood of Dionysus-Alcohol is no poison, Madam!Say all you like about that glucose and sucrose molecules which rot teeth and stomach and mind and body but alcohol, that divine ambrosia, is beyond reproach!

    However in the interests of the Universal Balance which must be maintained, I will volunteer to counter your monastic teetotallerism and drink the alcohol which you so wantonly scorn. A heavy burden, but the balance of the cosmos must be maintained.

    P.S: Drink water at Munich Beer Garden?No,No,No!If you do that then you shall not be allowed entry to Europe. Sorr but thems the rules. Cut down all you like til then but you have to enjoy life while you still live.

    P.P.S I don’t know why I wrote this as you knew I was going to write this reply anyway. I am getting oh so old and set in my ways and predictable.

  4. girlwhocriedepiphany March 13, 2008 / 1:01 pm

    R, In some ways I made this a public announcement to save having to write you and Mo and Mike all separately (no cracks about the joy of the cc or the modern need to air such personal subjects to a wider forum). And frankly, I would have been hurt if you had not replied exactly as you did! Don’t change your ways – you know that I am madly set on changing my ways several times a month, I at least need some of your ways to rely on.

    And that much Coke, really? I am assuming I do not need to tell you about: http://killercoke.org/

  5. gartenfische March 15, 2008 / 5:37 pm

    As a migraine sufferer, I’ve learned to be very careful what I eat. I don’t like having to think so much about food.

    Yesterday, I ate a large serving of tapioca pudding with a layer of whipped cream in the middle (bought this at a hospital I was working at—you’d think they’d serve healthy food, but no). I paid for it later when I crashed from the sugar high and got a headache. If I’d eaten half the amount, I probably would’ve been okay, but the servings they sell are huge, so I (stupidly) ate the whole thing.

    Everything in moderation. Refined sugar and alcohol are not healthy, but reasonable amounts won’t kill us. The problem is, we can get to the point where our bodies command us to stop putting in the junk. It’s important to listen to our own bodies and follow what they tell us.

    Good luck!

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