What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Another Thanksgiving is over and done, so it seems like an ideal time to talk about everyone's favorite holiday pastime: eating until you make yourself ill! Good fun, no? The thing is, for some of us, eating until you make yourself sick isn't a holiday-only affair. Not in my house, at least. Bingeing doesn't happen every day, but it does happen -- only with certain foods. Specifically, only with sugar.
Everyone has their trigger tastes, right? Some people can't get enough salty, snacky stuff; some are all about umami (I like pretending I know what that is, despite the fact that, with the delicately refined palate of a 6-year-old on speed, I'm pretty much the opposite of a foodie).
My trigger has always been CANDY. Straight-up candy. Cookies, cakes, brownies and ice cream are great, but they don't do for me what my beloved candy does: deliver a warm, heady, dependable rush of insta-comfort and soothing, the food equivalent of a palpable sigh of relief. AHHHHHH.
I only wish I were kidding when I say there's pretty much nothing I like more in the world than a bulging plastic bag stuffed with bulk-bin candy of all stripes -- mainly gummy and sour stuff, please, but let's toss in some chocolate and peanut butter and licorice, too, just to offer a bit of a retort to all the juicy fruity sweetness.
I've been a sugar addict since before I learned to talk. I don't want to get all "blame-the-parents" and shit, but I think I can safely say that my crushing sugar addiction may have been at least partially my late father's fault. See, per family lore, my dad used to feed me Kool-Aid from a bottle. When I was an infant. Because I was a picky little brat, and I didn't like formula, or juice, or whatever infants usually chug without protestation or fanfare. (I forgive you, Dad, wherever you are, because despite setting me up for cavities and cravings, you also introduced me to one my life's most consistent loves. Also, my dad had quite the sweet tooth on him, himself, eating candy or some kind of frozen treat every single night after dinner, so I learned from the best! Ah, bonding moments).Anyway, after starting off with Kool-Aid, my childhood became a giant gummy explosion of LAURA NEEDS CANDY and WHERE IS THE CANDY and WHY CAN'T I HAVE CANDY and GIVE ME IT NOW MORE NOW AGAIN CANDY NOW. And it's pretty much been that way ever since.
I know how I get with candy -- I know I'll never be one of those glossy-haired, delicate-flower, disciplined women who can gingerly help herself to ONE MINI OH-SO-MODERATE SERVING. What's the point of one piece? If I buy a bag of bulk candy, I buy a massive bag of bulk candy, and I do that with the express knowledge that I will, most likely, be eating the entire goddamn thing in one sitting. Is it healthy? Not. Does it bring me joy and comfort? Oh so much. Does it sometimes make me sick? Sadly, yes. Does that mean I avoid doing it? Not a chance.
For example, last Friday I had a date. In preparation for the movie we'd be seeing, I stopped at Walgreen's with the intention of picking up a couple bags of chocolate-covered gummy bears, because I knew my date had never had them and we'd randomly talked about them on our first date. Once I got to the Aisle of Temptation, my inner addict took over, swallowing my insides like a demon, and I ended up buying 6 big bags of candy instead of my intended two. "It's for both of us!" I told myself reassuringly through gritted teeth.
Of course, once we got to the movies, my date sampled the candy like a normal human -- dipping in here and there, but mainly sticking to popcorn. I, on the other hand, kept all 6 bags open on my lap at all times, grabbing at each package incessantly throughout the movie, then bringing home what we didn't finish. At my house, I kept at the sugar until my stomach felt like a tight, wince-y boulder straining at my jeans. My heart was jumpy, like I was high on ... something.
My date laughed, kind of, and seemed to think it was mildly cute that I'd eaten to the point of illness. I felt physically awful and emotionally out of control, because I WAS. But that didn't stop me from continuing to dive into those bags of candy -- it was the very first thing I did upon awakening the next morning as my date slept. It was 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday, and I was gorging myself on candy AFTER HAVING BEEN RENDERED ALMOST TOO SICK TO MOVE THE NIGHT BEFORE.
It went on like that throughout the day, an alternating sequence of me feeling Iike crap, popping a bunch of Tums, staying away from what remained of the offending treats while I distracted myself with other things, then returning to my sadistic mistress as soon as my stomach settled. I finally finished the stuff on Sunday, after complaining to anyone who would listen about how much my stomach hurt and how gross I felt and how I LITERALLY COULDN'T STOP. Cute it was not.
But it all served to remind me, for the 6,000th time in my 36 years, that candy is something I can't, like, casually bring home from movies, like a normal person does, to "save for later." Candy is something I can't keep in my house. Not because candy is inherently bad -- I love it more than I can adequately express, and it makes me happy instantly, on both a physical and an emo level that I only wish were hyperbolic. But I'm addicted to it; always have been. And though I don't plan on giving it the alcohol treatment and cutting it out completely (I've tried to give sugar up before, but it's never stuck), I need to attempt some harm reduction. The simplest strategy? Not bringing it home to begin with.
I'm well aware that there are all manner of recovery groups, forums, books, and other resources that deal with sugar addiction. I'm also aware of the connection between sugar addiction, depression, and alcoholism; I wrote about it here, in fact, and I'm not looking for advice, per se. I mainly want to hear from YOU, dear reader. Do you have any foods that make you transform into a raving pit of bottomless need? How do you handle it?
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