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Emails to my Therapist

Days Without McDonald’s Sweet Tea? What is Happening?

Dear Nicholas, Without deciding to, I seem to be neglecting my most-cherished bad habits, at least for the moment. I’m amazed. Usually, to make a change like this, I have to decide to do it, suffer in the process, and give myself rewards for sticking to my resolve. Most dramatically, it has been ten days since I have had any McDonald’s sweet tea, the liquid that has long fueled my every day, that has reliably pumped energy and well-being into my arteries.

That’s not the only change: I’ve stepped up the exercise a bit–actually went to a yoga class– been eating fruit, maybe meditating a little more (I’m a little vague on that last one.)


I’m guessing that the reason is these past six months of seeing three of my family fall very ill and seeing some old friends die. I have no conscious connection between this and my own recent behavior.

Still feeling my own teenage immortality as I happily do, I have no great expectation or resolve for sticking with all this healthy change. One exception to that: after a recent bout of dental work, I’m brushing my teeth after every single snack.

When I first told Bob about the absence of sweet tea, he said, “What’s your plan?”

“No plan,” I said. Not even the 12 step concept of deciding for one day at a time.  I’m free to change my mind and imbibe a few minutes from now if I feel like it.


Wouldn’t surprise me much if I did. Because right now, I am very low on pep and ambition.

I think it’s the lack of sweet tea. Days without my main source of caffeine and sugar. I didn’t feel any different for about a week and that’s when I’d have expected this depletion.  This new lethargy feels like late-breaking withdrawal.

This Saturday morning, Bob said what we often say to each other, “Plans?”

For the first time ever, I answered, “No.” Simply no.

I don’t like this. I’m used to white-water level energy. Healthier should feel better, right? I trust it will eventually–if I stick with this supposedly healthy abstinence.

I’ve stayed up to speed with my work, but not with other routines.  Load of laundry? Doesn’t seem important. (Maybe it’s not.)

People I know who’ve changed their diet in some allegedly healthy way typically say, “Oh, I feel so much better.” I think they’re  imagining things.

Yesterday for the first time in well over twenty years, I had the visual distortions that signal an oncoming migraine. With Tylenol, trance, and sleep, I managed to deflect it. Still, the fact that those wicked little light flickers happened is notable to me. Could it be the absence of McDonald’s sweet tea?


Is this turning toward “health” going to last? Is healthy going to start feeling like a good thing? I’m not at all sure.




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  • Miller Sigmon
    July 29, 2017 at 6:11 pm Reply

    Substitute black coffee..or since it’s 90+ outside…ice coffee.. It just may give you the missing “zip”….???

    • Peggy Payne
      July 29, 2017 at 6:16 pm Reply

      Have considered decaf, Miller, which for me is enough zip to launch a rocket, but for some reason I hesitate….Makes no more sense than any of the rest of this.

      • Peggy Payne
        July 29, 2017 at 8:52 pm Reply

        The tea’s better for sure, kenju, but it’s not as sweet.

  • Kenju
    July 29, 2017 at 8:48 pm Reply

    Try Bojangles sweet tea enemies you backslide. It’s much better!

  • July 29, 2017 at 9:24 pm Reply

    Ah, sweet mystery of life …

    • Peggy Payne
      July 29, 2017 at 9:52 pm Reply


  • Ron Perkinson
    July 29, 2017 at 9:41 pm Reply

    Over my life I have been through dozens of health surges. These have included exercise obsession; change in diet; kicking the nicotine addiction; gut checking myself on the use of alcohol; loss of weight; et al. The most benefit I have felt has been the release of mental conflict and a feeling of well-being when I said “screw it” with respect to whatever discipline I had imposed on me. I trust you will find this to be of no use to you at all. I did quit smoking- an accomplishment that I felt was deserving of the Mayor organizing a parade.

    • Peggy Payne
      July 29, 2017 at 9:56 pm Reply

      Sounds like you found the right solution, RonPerk. Perhaps the Mayor can still get around to arranging that parade.

      I’ve never been good at saying “screw it.” That’s a talent in itself, I think. That’s why it’s so weird that I have just drifted into this change, however temporary.

  • Ron perkinson
    July 29, 2017 at 9:51 pm Reply

    Every self-improvement measure I have ever undertaken has produced a relaxation of tension and a feeling of well-being when I mentally said “screw it”. I trust this will serve no useful purpose for you Peggy.

    • Peggy Payne
      July 29, 2017 at 9:57 pm Reply

      I’m going to develop this skill, Ron.

  • R L Jackson
    July 29, 2017 at 11:15 pm Reply

    Tried to NOT order sweet tea. Espec like McD’s. Huge for 1.00. Hate unsweet. So went a few days w/out. My reward: migraines! Note the migraine RX has caffeine in it. So my new compromise is the giant bottle of Pure Leaf and the other brand, both sweet and unsweet. I have to have unsweet if I first have sweet, or I mix them half and half. Doesn’t make me or the Afib any better. But I have cut down total consumption of full-blood tea, which should help the ticker. Good luck, Peggy! FYI: eating one good meal a day, combo lunch/dinner, earlier in the day, plus small yogurts for bfast or at nt, has resulted in no appreciable wt loss, nor loss of desire for snacks, fats, sweets, sweet tea. Do feel thinner and clothes fit better.

    • Peggy Payne
      July 30, 2017 at 5:35 pm Reply

      Wow, you’ve tried a lot of ways to deal with the sugar thing, Robbie Lane. I do sympathize. And good point about the caffeine in migraine drugs. I was really startled to have those old flashing lights show up because it had been decades since the last time. I read now that coffee and decaf actually extend life. May try a bit of decaf in the morning.

  • N
    July 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm Reply

    You are a gem!

    • Peggy Payne
      July 30, 2017 at 6:58 pm Reply

      And I hoist a glass to you, N! Of water! Another new development that startles me. Delighted to see you here — and thank you!

  • Lee Grohse
    August 1, 2017 at 2:58 pm Reply

    Never underestimate the effect of a little caffeine on headache relief (prevention?). Rarely have headache of any kind but a half cup of coffee beats any meds when I do. Can you deal with unsweetened tea, as no doubt the sugar is much more problematic in regard to health.

    • Peggy Payne
      August 1, 2017 at 3:22 pm Reply

      I’ve decided on half a cup of decaf, Lee, as a regular morning thing. Have been reading good things about coffee lately. And decaf has plenty of caffeine. Thanks.

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