Thursday, February 23, 2012

You gave up what? For What?

Yes, I gave up sugar for Lent. What's Lent? It's the 40 days before Easter that are meant to mimic the 40 days Jesus spent on his own being tempted by the Devil. Those of us depraved enough to practice it, are supposed to give up something special to us, something that makes us feel like we're being deprived. Some people give up drinking, soda, bedtime snacks (that's my mom's Lenten challenge this year).

I chose to give up added sugar as I have done for the last 3 years. Added sugar is the stuff that makes all the tastiest things in life tasty. Anything with "cake" in the title is something I could dive into face first and burrow through to the other side. Also, anything frozen with fudge, peanut butter, and ice cream.

What people don't realize is just how much sugar there is in just about EVERYTHING. Spaghetti sauce, for example, is loaded with added sugar. Bread, cereal, crackers, fancy Greek yogurt, soda of course, and a myriad of other lovely and delicious foods are jam packed full o sugar.

What this means to a sugar addict (yes, really), is that I take away all my temptations and don't even let them in the house for 40 days. Deeper than that, it makes me face my compulsive need to eat sugar head on. It means I have to actually deal with my shit rather than stuffing it down with a cookie or froyo. It also means that exercise becomes my sole companion for getting my aggression out.

The thing that people may not understand about a compulsive eater is that we do the same thing with food as an alcoholic or heroin addict does with their substance of choice. There is so such thing as just a "little heroin". There is clean or cracked out in a bathroom stall somewhere. I'm either off the sugar and living clean, sleeping better, not having mood swings, and thinking more clearly, or I'm eating everything I can get my hands on that contain sugar in copious amounts. Once I start eating the stuff, I'm nearly consumed with an overwhelming need to just keep eating it. Even as we were leaving the restaurant on Fat Tuesday (having eaten so much I felt sick) after just eating beignets, I actually suggested we stop for froyo on the way home. This was after Eric actually had to stop me from eating the powdered sugar off the plate with a spoon. I was almost sick when I got home from all the heavy food and grease that my body isn't accustomed to eating. I didn't sleep that night, and I felt literally hungover from food yesterday.

But still it remains, my craving for sugar. Today is the second day without the stuff. After tomorrow, it'll get better. My body will stop asking for it, and just walking near a bakery will nearly make me vomit by Sunday.

The problem with being a food addict is that my "crack" is everywhere. It's not like being a pill head or junkie who has to hide in an alley or be secretive about getting high. My drug is in almost everything you can imagine. Sugar is everywhere. It's the thing I fight with everyday. I have a dysfunctional relationship with food that very few people understand. And, for at least the next 38 days, I have to stay on the wagon and get one step closer to controlling the addiction. There you go. Now you know. I'm an addict. It's such a dirty word, isn't it?

Happy Lent.