I basically called my mom for help. Except when I say mom, I mean an esthetician.
Two months ago, I reached a really weird place in my relationship with food. I wasn’t actively starving myself or sticking my fingers down my throat 50 times a day, so everything felt like it ought be fine, but it wasn’t. I was obsessing: constantly, constantly thinking about food and my body and how much I wanted one and hated the other.
All I was eating, when I did eat, was candy or cakes; and never luxury patisserie or artisanal chocolate, but the cheapest, grossest variants. It wasn’t coming from a place of abundance and love, but from a place of confusion and unhappiness.
There’s a saying in some of the groups that I attend: "One is too many and a thousand never enough," which speaks to me so directly yet is so hard for me to remember when I slip into addictive behaviors. There are some things I cannot have any of because, no matter how voraciously I consume, they do not give me the effect that I crave.
At the moment, one of those things is sugar.
Making the decision to go sugar-free felt like a loving and healthy decision, based around the freedom that is on offer for me in dealing with my problems head-on rather than waiting until I fall into some desperate pit of despair that manifests itself in the way I can often exclusively recognize: physically.
Last time that I committed to a type of food recovery, it was when my bulimia was so bad that my knuckles were red raw, I was kind of balding, and my skin was peeling off my face. This time, I just recognized that I deserved the freedom that comes from doing something compassionate for myself and my body: setting a boundary that, just for today (and the last two months) I am not eating sugar. Because I have a bit, and then I have a bit more. And then I am, literally, eating it by the bag, and that is just not chic at all.
However, I am not one of those people who isn’t into sweet things. I really, really love sweet things. And so, to compensate for not having them in my mouth, I am COVERING my body in them.
FRESH BROWN SUGAR BODY POLISH
I like Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish for three reasons: 1. "Brown Sugar" is the name of my favourite song by D’Angelo. 2. I once put a bit in my mouth and it tasted really good. 3. It makes my skin lovely.
Brown sugar crystals are a natural humectant that protect your skin from losing too much moisture, but they also help polish away dead skin. The polish is also crammed full of some of my body favourites: almond (which moisturizes and smells delicious), apricot kernel (which I don’t really understand but is in most of my high-ranking body products), and citrus oils (which brighten and tone). I scrub it into myself in the bath and shower and then think about whether eating it would constitute a sugar relapse. It probably would. It’s really sugary.
KORRES WATERMELON BODY SCRUB
I know that this is not strictly a sugar because it is a fruit, but watermelon has a really high glycemic index (it breaks down into sugar very quickly in your body, raising your blood sugar levels) and Korres Watermelon Body Scrub smells like watermelon bubblegum, so I am including it.
This uses ground bamboo and jojoba beads to exfoliate--so tropical--and could not be more summery if it came with a first class ticket to the Seychelles.
PHILOSOPHY CINNAMON BUNS SHAMPOO, SHOWER GEL & BUBBLE BATH
Number three is based on one of my favourite desserts: cinnamon buns. Philosophy has the most amazing range of body washes which double as bubble baths and shampoos, and their Cinnamon Buns scent is like being in a bakery but without all the triggering white flour (also a no-go at the moment).
I get my kicks where I can at the moment, and I woke my housemate up to make him smell me when I got out the shower the first time I used it because it was that good. Dreamy. It has a recipe for the buns on the front, the making of which is going to be my first activity when I finish this bout of abstinence.
LAURA MERCIER AMBRE VANILLE CREME BODY WASH and CREME BRULEE HAND CREME
Another incredible shower gel, is Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille Creme Body Wash. I utterly adore vanilla, particularly in summer which has, this week, reached us in the UK. It is soft and silky and ridiculously delicious-smelling, with a slightly more luxe, grown-up vibe than some of the vanilla products I have tried. I feel like vanilla can go one of two ways: gorgeous or cheap, when it isn’t a developed enough scent. This is not the latter.
Also in the Laura Mercier range is the Creme Brulee Hand Creme, which both allows you to carry your sugary smells around in your handbag and simultaneously moisturise your hands and cuticles. It smells of caramel and musk and is formulated with olive and grape oils to moisturise and soy proteins to repair skin (which is incredibly important for me as I peel apart my cuticles and they need all the help they can get).
LUSH HONEY TRAP LIP BALM
Another handbag-friendly option is Lush’s Honey Trap Lip Balm, which tastes like white chocolate and honey. I would use this even if it didn’t work because it tastes incredible, but it does; it contains almond oil and shea butter which are natural emollients and make your lips yummy and smooth.
Plus, it isn’t tinted or anything, so you can make out with someone and not look weird but taste amazing.
ELEMIS PAPAYA ENZYME PEEL
My final sweet suggestion may not be conventionally sugary, but it’s a papaya and pineapple blend, so it smells fruity and sweet. It is also fabulous. I mean it: fabulous. I know I use a lot of superlatives, but Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel makes my skin smoother than any other mask and simultaneously rigorously exfoliates whilst nourishing and moisturising with vitamin E.
I found this during one of the facials I went for when my skin was causing me chaos and despair, and it works exceptionally well at working intensively enough to be effective, but it isn’t an irritant on inflamed or sensitive skin (or at least, it wasn’t on mine, which was a complete mess).
So there you have it: the sweet products that are keeping me sugar free. Them, and a whole load of self-help books, support groups and therapy. But the products are a lot more fun to talk about and make much better presents.
Have you ever gone sugar-free? Do you love smelling like a candy store? Do you have any sweet-smelling stuff that I oughtn’t be living without? Do you have a recipe for sugar-free cinnamon buns to give me?