16 November 2007


Part Seven

When I began feeling like a junkie looking for a fix---I knew I had a problem---with SUGAR. The addiction symptoms were: anger, self-hatred, depression, lack of energy, sweet cravings, bloating, out of control eating and weight gain.

Having battled a food addiction for over 20 years (food my drug of choice) and while temporarily living with my sister after the death of my mother, I gained back 20 pounds and 10 of the 12 inches I lost while diligently working-out for the last 8 years. All the hard work I did vanished, by the daily temptation (of the Drake's isle in my sister's kitchen) and endless consumption of the over-the-counter drug: pure white (co)cane sugar.

Over 10 years ago a friend introduced me to the book "Sugar Blues," by William Dufty. She passed out copies like lollipops and preached about the psychological and physical addiction. I ignored her zealot attempts to convert me shunning a copy of the book she swore by. I figured I knew it all because I ate honey or brown sugar (refined white sugar dyed brown with Molasses). Never considering what she was trying to enlighten me to was the dangerous white substance traded on Wall Street. It was lurking in the cyclical ice cream, Funny Bones, holiday desserts, M&M's, and birthday cakes (my favorite) I made excuses to inhale. Except, I wasn't aware enough to see the correlation between my inability to lose weight and the physical symptoms of the sweet junk. That is until I was unplugged from NYC and living in the country trying to reinvent myself while mourning my mother.

Everyone experiences going home for the holidays and overeating because you are out of your element, seduced by your favorite childhood foods. But when the holidays are over and you're still there---and so are the goodies, coupled with those less health and body conscious---it can equal disaster. If your constitution is built on a flaky foundation of pastry crust---you will crumble---becoming "one" with the donuts.

My observation of the negative emotions associated with sweets became prevalent when I began eating insatiably after a morsel or two of the three C's: chocolate, cookies or cake. I'd say to myself, "I'll only have two Oreo's" (or one slice of cake or three pieces of chocolate). Then before the first bite slid down my gullet, I'd up the ante to 4 cookies then 6. Of course after a lightening speed consumption (similar to the initial rush of drugs)---I'd become sick from the sugar. A nauseous feeling came over my stomach as I swore I'd never do it again.

This went in circles for months. Arguing with my sister to stop buying the junk food and seductive desserts. She reasoned her husband liked sweets (so did she and her Poodles) after dinner, before dinner, for lunch and sometime for breakfast. I began hating myself for not being able to pass it by. It was the first time I felt like an alcoholic, unable to pass a cookie jar or chocolate layered cake without having a binge. I thought maybe I should adopt AA's philosophy by taking, "one day at a time." But how could I master control over the dreaded thousand mile walk through the "pastry shop" in her kitchen?

I managed to make the conscious choice and stop due to weight gain. For two months I felt energized, confident, hopeful, euphoric, centered, a general sense of well being. Feeling elated and in control of my life and eating, I decided to test myself at a function by eating only 2 bite size squares of a brownie and cheese cake. I remembered the taste---and it remembered me as I walked back to the table popping a few more in my mouth. Instantly I was sucked right back into the void of empty calories.

This pattern repeated itself over the last 24 months---until the tape measure expanded compounded by the strangulation of my clothes. I once focused on every curve and prided myself on finally seeing my hip bones---I observed the disconnection from my body. Ignoring the outer manifestations of the miserable life I was temporarily leading, in a household spiraling out of control with carelessness and intentional sabotage. I wondered why their self-destructive ways were more encroaching to me than my conscious, healthy organic life style on them? They were a combined force like a blender whipping cream. I had to fight for my life and piece together the cause and effect of my sugar habit.

Over the Christmas holiday [2004] it began to take root as I monitored my emotions and bodily symptoms after I'd eaten sweets. Like Einstein creating the atom---I saw the connection ---and felt it when I woke on the 5th day after my last affair with chocolate on New Years eve. Finally kicking my addiction to a crack pipe of burnt sugar cubes. Feelings of being in control again, happy, almost speeding with adrenaline, no longer felt obsessive and indulgent. The sensation of being healthy, whole and alive had been lacking. The motivation and desire to reconnect to the positive side of life once again emerged. Leaving me possessed with the ability to make things happen. I was no longer ignorant to my sucrose bondage. And the negative symptoms superceded the momentary desires of---my aching sweet tooth.

It may only be a forkful for some, but others a handful leads to a trough. Dr. Phil's mission this season focuses on this countries overweight epidemic, making us understand these foods were "created to be addictive." A legal and cheap way of hooking millions of people, while making billions of dollars. Sugar is big business---a commodity which produced 147.1 million tons world wide in 2002/2003. And we consumed 139.1 million tons of the decaying substance. Which is the real crack cocaine here?

Originally written: 5 January 2004
Copyright 2004, R. B. STUART. All rights reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form.

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