Archive for the ‘Challenges’ Category

What are we to do this summer? Especially since my move back to the countryside? Well I can be a little sad that I’m a bits away from my city friends. And then I’m going to have to find different things to do with new people (You Vancouver and BurQuitlam people are not being replaced, trust me – but twiddling my thumbs won’t do). So what I am to do?

1) Grow a herb garden (this should be interesting)

2) Take up running (Hmm, more details and excruciating pain to follow soon)

What lovely things do you plan to do with our lovely (but far too short) Canadian summer?


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The end of May, the reintroduction of sugar and chocolate (as it was done at Brianna’s get together with the dessert Sex-in-Pan… which reminds me of a friend who worked in an old folks’ home and they had that name on the menu and had to change it due to the uproar it inspired. Again more proof of the danger sugar inspires).

What did I learn from this sugar/chocolate hiatus?

1) I can survive without sugar and chocolate for an extended period of time. (I wasn’t actually sure I could physically do this)

2) Sugar is a drug.

3) Not eating sugar will have people stare at you as if you have a problem, and to do so out of free will rather than a medical condition will double the questioning

4) I will tone down the use of sugar from here on out.

5) Le sigh. I’m signing up to do this again next May.

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Last semester I took a class in ideology and media – (probably the most interesting and informative communication class)

One of my essays looked specifically at the process of reification and naturalization: Thompson defines reification is the “relations of domination may be established and sustained to representing a transitory, historical state of affairs as if it were permanent, natural, outside of time” (Thompson, p.65). This specifically carries through with the naturalization strategy where “[a] state of affairs which is a social and historical creation may be treated as a natural even or as the inevitable outcome of natural characteristics” (p.66).

Simply put, by representing things/actions/institutions (things that human-made) as things that are natural (inevitable/determined by conditions that are beyond human control) – we don’t question the authenticity of the object in question, nor the possible power relations which allowed the portrayal of this authenticity.

So what on this blue earth does this have to do with sugar? Well, without sounding too Michael-Mooresque – I think that we as a culture have fully accepted processed sugar as naturalized – that is, we no longer question the oddness of having it play such a huge role in our diets. Nor do we question the labour conditions under which it is produced. It is ubiquitous, the norm, it is not contemplated.

The Candy Cane - forever embedded in the collective imagery of "Christmas"

But how about a real example of how this happens in our everyday life? The best example I can think of is the idea is how sugar has crept into vernacular semiotics  (signs, symbols and even language). Just try to count the number of ads you see on TV that sell candy, cake and ice-cream like its going out of fashion. The ritual of chocolate and sweets before the register as an impulse buy. The use of the phrases “sweet tooth”, “a sweet person” or “trick or treat”. Can we disassociate Easter from the Bunny and his eggs? Is there a contemporary Christmas without candy-canes and gingerbread men? When this language of signs and imagery become a part of our collective pool as society – how then is it not naturalized?

Ironically, this idea dawned on me while watching 16 and pregnant (Believe me, the shame of this lack of cultural capital haunts me). But in one episode I was really struck by a nurse’s comment to the new mom: To paraphrase, “You have to teach a baby everything; when to sleep; when to be awake; and even the very basics of the eating process”. If we had to learn the how-to-eat action — something that I’m certain we take as very natural aspect our lives — then most certainly we did learn how the content of eating too. And we also unlearn parts of it too.

And did I just speak about semiotics and MTV in the same post? Why yes – yes I did.


Thompson, J. (1991). Ideology and Modern Culture: Critical Social Theory in the Era of Mass Communication (1 ed.). Stanford : Stanford University Press.

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Not eating an immense amount of sugar has allowed me to start delving into experience other sides of my palate. I have ignored  a spectrum of taste for many years for cheap thrill of pleasure that comes from eating something sugary. Mouth, for this I apologize. You deserve better.

At this point in the journey I’m starting to contemplate sugar beyond just the realm of this month, but how it effects me as a whole and how will I reintegrate eating sugar in my life again. Do I plunge back into eating it? (I’m not sure I can or want to) Do I continue with this way of eating? (And will it just become like being a vegetarian, something that you just get used to) Do I make a negotiated schedule? (And be really conscientious – but how much more thinking and negotiation can I do with food before I become a crazy hipster… says the woman with a food blog – le sigh).

For your reading pleasure: The ehow guide to developing a more refined palate

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Both Claire and I failed our challenge when it came to Mother’s Day dining rituals.

I went with my Mom and Dad to a Posh Tea place, and the only friendly alternative I could find on the menu were mini-scones (which taste as good as they sound cute). So I went for it, because even though real dedication would have me content with a pot of Strawberry Rooibos Tea — I realize that I am starting to become a wee bit of a pain in the arse when it comes to restaurant outings.

I asked the waitress if they had sugar-free jam. She didn’t scoff, but firmly stated “no” with a raised eyebrow. I felt ever so slightly loser-ish.

But Claire and me have decided to get back on the challenge pony. So down with sugar, and down with love.

P.S. Claire is having issues with her wordpress account that is why she is not blogging. She is not a figment of my sugarless-deluded state. Please believe me, she is real.

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It’s only day nine of this ridiculous challenge, and it feels as if its been going on for an eternity. I’m probably only going  to blah-di-blah a few more posts about particulars of this challenge. But let me say this, trying to flee from processed sugar is liking try to escape from Alcatraz: It takes much planning and the endurance of  a woman fighting to taste sweet- sweet freedom. And even then – after you’ve become as annoying as someone on a diet who tags along to Timmes – you still have to deal with with sugar on wheels hunting you down.

I’m over the initial phase of habitual sugar cravings. But I feel like a darker, deeper pang is still beneath the quiet abyss. As noted by the ice-cream truck incident from earlier today:

Satan's Siren

I was waiting for outside and I shoved my bum  into sun for some warming. (I.e. Just a note of clarification, I sat in the sun, I did not strip). Then I heard it, the faint rattling of a tinny tune which would have delighted my tween-aged self:

Tra-La-La-Laaaaa-La Tralalala Laaaaaaa! (rough translation: I’m coming to unleash your inner fat girl, muhahaaaa!)

I could see that devil-van as it crept over the hill in slow motion with its caloric booty. It’s as if the universe wanted me to fail, to crave and ingest the forbidden – For crying-out loud there was a truck with truckload of ice cream calling me. I felt persecuted. I had to go inside the house to continue my waiting.

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Had a dream about sticking my entire head into pie and eating it. Apparently dream-Christi is not to trusted.

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