Shortly after realizing it’s been more than a year now since my last sip of Diet Coke, this troubling question entered my mind: Would it really hurt anything if I periodically took a sip under very specific, limited circumstances, such as only with pretzels and only on cheat day?
Given my experience with reintroducing other previously troubling “treats,” I do think it’s possible. As to whether that’s a good idea … I’d have to say no.
On the one hand, I did indulge in several handfuls of peanut M&Ms – which I thought I’d given up for good – at a birthday party last fall. I was worried that might lead to a relapse, but it didn’t. Because that happened within the protective bubble of a cheat day, I didn’t associate it with being a regular part of my life again. In fact, it didn’t even rise to the level of a cheat day staple. Several cheat days have come and gone since then, and I haven’t even thought about M&Ms. They’ve moved way down my priority list. I suppose I could put some in ice cream, which remains a cheat day staple. But these days I’d rather just have higher quality chocolate and nuts and not bother with that garish candy coating.
(The other reason, of course, is that high-quality dark chocolate and nuts are something I associate with my postfat lifestyle – while gobbling peanut M&Ms is something I associate with being fat.)
I’ll probably never eat French fries again for the same reason. Yes, I could probably have some on Cheat Day without a relapse. But I don’t miss them, I’d rather have a baked potato, and I hardly ever go to McDonald’s anymore anyway.
As for Diet Coke … there are times when I wouldn’t mind drinking something cold and bubbly. Given a choice, I’d probably prefer a sparkling water over a diet soda these days. But there have been times — primarily on Cheat Day — when my husband’s Diet Coke stash has looked mighty tempting.
But I’m not going to do it. I like having these barriers between this life and my previous 90-pounds-overweight existence. Whether they pose an actual threat or merely a symbolic one doesn’t really matter.