addiction revisited

i'm pretty sure i've come out of the closet on this before - i am addicted to sugar. and presumably fossil fuels, and possibly sleep though i think i'm getting better at that one. i've been addicted to sugar for most of my life. it served a distinct purpose when i was younger - it was an escape, an emotional safe haven that i paired with reading fiction to surround myself with comfort when the atmosphere in our house felt hostile.

once i was old enough to realize that not everyone had a massive ice cream sundae every afternoon, i took the offensive in heading off any opposition to my sugar habits by claiming it as a trait. eating sweets is decently supported in our culture, after all, so i tried to hold the stance that it was a positive thing, something i enjoyed, something fun.

by the time i hit puberty i knew big change was needed. i wasn't ready to or interested in cutting out sugar, but i wasn't eating any fruits or vegetables (almost literally... i ate potatoes and corn, and the rare apple or banana, but that was It. seriously). i started doing weight watchers programs with my Mom not to lose weight, but because there was a required number of servings of fruits and vegetables every day. that brought me to eat my first salad, asparagus, and not much else. but it was the beginning of a solid effort.

the next big push was during high school, when my Mom and i both did a month long detox program passed on by her vegetarian friend. we ate nothing but fruit for an entire week, and though i was predictably Angry most of that week, my body felt incredible. the second week we added different vegetables bit by bit. the third week, grains. the fourth week, meat and dairy could be added. i remember rejoicing at my first baked potato, how Solid it felt. i remember that at the end, the first unnatural food i ate was a bag of doritos. i could taste every artificial flavor in that bag, and it felt Strange.

into college i went, still struggling with severely limited options every time i went out to eat, or even tried to eat at the school cafeteria. i felt so strongly about my dislike of vegetables that i had a gag reflex any time i tried to eat them. i ate meat, potatoes, and chocolate milk almost every one of my meals in the dining hall. at restaurants? chicken nuggets. plain chicken sandwiches. french fries. other forms of potato. no garnish, please. no, i don't want the sauce with spices or ground vegetables. no, i don't want the salad that comes with that, someone else can eat it. Yes, i would love to see a dessert menu - from which i would pick out the item with the most chocolate and devour it happily.

another aspect of this journey that i should mention is that i have never been officially overweight. i apparently have a strong metabolism. i was a bit chubby as a small child, but by 9 i put on height and thinned out, and since then have been a healthy weight for my height. i think weight perceptions have a huge impact on how we are judged in society. if you're considered skinny, the looks you get when you down a large milkshake may be more of surprise than of disgust. for me, this makes dealing with sugar addiction even more difficult. it's a strong enough problem that i Need to be surrounded by reprimands, or ostracized, or made to react in some way to the idea that what i'm doing is Unhealthy and ought to Change. i can't do it on my own.

in the interest of not making this a monumentally long post, i think i'll consider this the end of 'part 1'. thanks for reading. if you are or have struggled with addictions to things our culture generally approves of, i'd love to hear your insights. it's not something i (or i imagine most other folks) want to face alone.