Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sweet Talk

I've often opined that I have lots of unpopular ideas, and here is one more: I don't mind going to the dentist. In fact, I'm grateful for the opportunity to go, and even have a favorite hygienist who I think is nice and interesting and gives as close to the most painless experience you can expect while scraping tartar off my back molars. This is the type of gratitude that can only come from not having dental care while growing up. Well, that's not entirely true, I did see a children's dentist a couple times in my earliest years. The plastic blue donkey that I picked out of the "treasure chest" after my exam sat as a decoration in one of my mother's house plants for years. But after I turned about eight, I didn't see a dentist again until I was nineteen and both made the appointment and paid for it myself with my own money. I can recall the lady dentist looking at me very seriously and saying "We are going to try to save your teeth."
And although it took years and many, many appointments with different dentists, I do have all my own teeth, in all their imperfect cavity-prone glory.

Anyway, my hygienist was telling me that she could tell by my teeth that I did not grow up around here, as the area where the office was located is one of the few that had fluoride in the water thirty years ago. She said that all of the patients who grew up in that town (and growing up there is the key- fluoride in the water does nothing for adults) have really strong, healthy teeth. I thought that was fascinating.

Also, (and this is not news) sugary soft drinks are the worst for your teeth and will cause decay faster than anything else. Now, some of you know that as a child my husband was flat-out denied sugary drinks, so as an adult in rebellion, he basically has an IV drip of a certain sweet name-brand cola product which delivers a constant stream of corn syrupy goodness into his veins. After seeing the dentist the other day, I went home and informed The Mister that his nasty habit will catch up with him someday. My warning felt hollow though, as he is forty years old and not nearly as likely to get a cavity as I am. It's all so unfair. But this discussion was all very timely since I had been searching for sweet drinks to keep around the house that- and here's the rub- do not contain aspartame. You see, I am allergic to aspartame in a very horrific way. I'm not challenging its safety, but for me it is nothing short of debilitating. And every, every diet drink is filled with aspartame, even ones that are labeled "all natural." I know this because a trip to the drink aisles at the grocery store resulted in a mind-numbing odyssey of sugarless drink choices, nearly all containing my aspartame nemesis. A few did not contain the additive, but were labeled with double-talk such as "contains natural sweeteners sweetened with other natural sweeteners" which makes them somewhat suspect. Who decides what constitutes a natural sweetener anyway? And why don't you just tell me what that natural sweetener actually is?

So, am I doomed to drinking water and tea forever? Or is there something out there that actually tastes good but does not contain a weird controversial additive?

4 comments:

  1. Aspartame is a total menace. My father gets terrible migraines from it, and I get headaches (not too awful, but plenty enough to make me avoid the stuff) from it, so I've been reading the labels carefully for as long as I can remember, and it gets in more and more things as time passes. Mostly I drink water, but I do sometimes drink squash - I don't think this exists in the US, though. It's like cordial, incredibly strong sweet fruity syrup that you dilute like crazy to drink. About 1 part squash to 6 parts water. It's sugar-sweetened so not brilliant for the teeth, but a lots better than ordinary pop. But my recollection of American drinks from my brief stay there at the age of nine is that there is no equivalent (I had to drink coke for those 6 months, and grew to loathe it).

    Perhaps you could make some sort of cordial and drink that heavily diluted? I don't know if you get elderflowers where you are, but it's incredibly strong stuff so you only need about a teaspoonful in the glass.

    Hope you find something that works.

    Best wishes,
    Jo

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  2. Jo, for the squash, do you mean something like Ribena? We can get that here. Also, I do know of a source for elderflower cordial, but hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the idea. The headaches I get from aspartame are not even of the migraine variety. They are worse, if you can imagine that! I actually love regular flavored soft drinks, but am not crazy about all that sugar. Aspartame must be extremely cheap as an additive because it is in EVERYTHING!

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  3. Why not make your own root beer or something like that? You can buy the Zatarains's Root Beer Extract, and then toy around with the amounts of sugar, or even perhaps using honey?? I believe that it requires yeast though, so maybe a certain amount of sugar is needed. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, Ribena is what I mean. I used to buy that before I realised the supermarket had an own-brand equivalent (called High Juice) that was cheaper. I didn't realise it exists in America. The non-light version is sugar rather than aspartame sweetened, and we don't have any problem with it. I can't imagine what a headache worse than migraine must be like - you poor thing!

    Best wishes,
    Jo

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