It’s been 2 or 3 years now since I gave up what I call “dessert sugar.” Funny, how I’m not sure how long it’s been. Funny how it doesn’t even really matter. When looking back, individual years acquire a different sort of time stamp in our memory, which dramatically lessens the significance one experienced while actively living it.
I’ve been a life-long sugar addict. One for whom chocolate and cookies stir a deep adoration no other food product comes close to matching. Those were my DOC’s (drugs of choice): chocolate and cookies. On the addiction scale I’d say I was somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, edging my way over the line into the “Danger, Will Robinson” zone.
I came up with the “dessert sugar” phrasing in an effort to find a quick way to explain myself in response to the inevitable quizzical look that would follow after turning down a sugar filled offering. Apparently, people often find it curious when someone doesn’t partake in sweets, which is similar to what used to happen when I would decline libations before I fashioned a largely sober friend base. It would be easier for people to understand if I were, say, a diabetic trying to watch my carb intake, or an alcoholic on the wagon, but as someone who chooses to voluntarily avoid both substances, I become the equivalent of a talking unicorn found serendipitously in the woods on a long hike.
“Dessert sugars” mean just that. They refer to the eats one would commonly consider a dessert product: cookies, cake, brownies, ice cream, pie, and anything having to do with chocolate. If I weren’t limited to explaining myself in the time frame of someone’s minuscule attention span, I would further add that I’ve given up both dessert sugars and junk-food sugars. Junk-food sugars being: candy, breakfast pastries, funnel cake, sugary cereals, and anything else one tends to eat large quantities of and is socially allowed to have at any hour of the day. For a reason I have yet to pin down, I feel it necessary to report to anyone who’ll listen about how I’m not foregoing ALL types of sugar, just the sort that might trigger my particular proclivities. I continue to eat fruit and granola bars most every day. I even drink juice, un-caffeinated sodas, and sweet tea every so often. I guess I just don’t want people to get the wrong idea and wind up stewing in a falsely held judgement about how I’m a hypocritical wind-bag, when next they spot me sipping on a smoothie.
Though I’d been mentally working up to it for a long while prior to giving it up, and had nixed adding sugar to my coffee and stopped drinking soda on a daily basis (a short lived habit I developed one summer), I quit my consumption of dessert sugars cold turkey, which is the only way that made any sense. It was also the only way it would’ve worked.
In the way some alcoholics long to become social drinkers, able to throw back a beer with friends from time to time, I originally had the goal of getting to the point where I could have a dessert on special occasions. But, now that I’ve tested those waters a small handful of times, I’m starting to see that my goal may be unrealistic, and more importantly, unwise. I’m discovering that it’s far easier on my brain to just be without the influence of sugary delectables all together, rather than attempt to ration them in.
At first it seemed silly, ridiculous even, to liken my situation to how an alcoholic would associate with booze. But there are many similarities that continue to be important enough for me to take a long, hard look at, in my desire not to be ruled by the sugar gods. I’ve been mildly horrified to uncover the depths of my addiction over the past 2 or 3 years, whichever it’s been. How much brain power I invested in it without realizing. How much I allowed sugar to control my life. I was a closet junkie, perpetually looking for my next fix. I had to have something laced with it every day. I’d get grumpy without it.
It was an expensive habit, too, as I’d developed a rather highbrow pallet. I suppose most addictions are that way, though. And sugar is hella affordable in the grand scheme of things to be fixated on. But it’s not advisable to compare one addiction to another, especially if it allows you to let yourself off the hook: “Oh, well, sugar isn’t really that bad. I mean, it could be way worse. I could be a meth fiend supporting my habit by prostituting myself to skanky ass dudes in seedy motels.” And, yes, that would be far more damaging. But it does say something highly dysfunctional that part of me thinks: “Yeah, but at least if I was a meth head, I wouldn’t have the slightest problem avoiding chocolate and cookies.” I exaggerate to make a point, of course, but you see what I’m saying?!
I’m getting to the point, now, where it doesn’t call to me. Where I can pass by the chocolate bar display in our organic market and not be acutely aware of them. Cookies are situated in an aisle I only need to visit when we run out of ketchup or mayo, so those are fairly easy to avoid. When on occasion I go to the regular grocery store, I appreciate the fact that the one I frequent most has kindly sequestered the chocolate candy and cookies to the same easily by-passable section.
My progress continues, as a week ago I was able to sit very comfortably among a table full of friends who were all eating a delicious looking tiramisu made by an accomplished chef in our midst, while in front of me sat solely a cup of tea.