Will I Ever Kick Sugar?
When I was a kid, my mother hid any candy that happened to find its way into our house. The doctor said it was bad for me. How long ago was that? Back in the Second World War, one of those events that happened so far in the past, it probably doesn’t seem real to you. Like back in the dark ages when guys rode around in suits of armor and poured boiling oil on their enemies. Or before we had things like cell phones and avocado toast.
Not possible, right? But the war was real. I remember it. We had rationing.
It meant you couldn’t get the food you wanted, things like, well, sugar. So maybe that’s when it started, my lust for anything sweet. I had a deprived childhood because of the Nazis. We blamed everything on the Nazis back then. They were our modern-day terrorists. These days we say don’t let the terrorists win. Back then we did everything to support the war effort. We didn’t eat sugar to support the war.
Why, was it our secret weapon? Did we dump all our sugar on Germany in the hopes we could kill the Nazis with cavities?
I just remember finding a rationing thingy on the porch during the war. My mother was overjoyed. It meant she could get more butter, or meat, or maybe sugar.
So now that’s not rationed, I’m stuck with the sugar habit.
I crave it, day and night. Except for breakfast. If I have a donut for breakfast, I’m done for the day.
See sugar really is bad for me. Yeah, I know, it’s bad for everyone. I just read an article that it’s linked to dementia. Well, by the back roads. There’s a strong like between diabetes and dementia, and I’m of that age (cough, cough) when brain failure is a thing. So I’m down with anything that will keep the head bone strong. A little like closing the barn door at this point, but what else can I do? Give up sugar? Oh, anything else?
I know sugar isn’t good for anyone, but it actually makes me sick.
I get hungover like I’ve had too much to drink, which also isn’t good for me. Something about my Irish metabolism, I think. But I don’t care about drinking. I gave it up when I was forty, back when none of you were born. Yeah, no cell phones or kale back then either. I’ve lived a deprived life. But I had my sugar. Anyway, I kicked alcohol before it was a thing. I just didn’t like hangovers. So what’s with sugar? I like being sick now?
When my mother made pancakes for me when I was a kid and doused them in syrup (after the war when we had all the sugar we wanted), I’d feel sick by the time I got to school. I began to put two and two together that sweet things made me feel icky. Unless I waited until lunchtime. Then with some real food in my stomach, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I could indulge at the candy store on the way home, if I’d manage to find a nickel or two.
So I got the habit, and no, one was never enough.
Give me a box of chocolates, and like magic, I will disappear it in a few days. Cookies, ice cream? Forget about it. It’s embarrassing the way I scarf them down. I hide them from myself, the way my mother used to do when I was small. But I’m not so old yet that I don’t remember the exact shelf in the kitchen where I stuck the box of chocolate chip sandies behind the oatmeal.
You’d think by now, with all my wisdom and maturity, I could say no to such a terrible habit. Other people enjoy desserts, but I’m ashamed that if I eat one bite, I’ll crave the whole cake. Better I say no and give myself some peace, but do I ever? I either eat it and feel guilty or don’t eat and dream about it.
It’s not a weight thing.
I’m in the normal range more or less, though who doesn’t always think they need to lose an ounce or two? It’s the embarrassing nature of something that controls me, something that isn’t good for me, that is, let’s face it, an addiction.
I kicked sugar for six months a few years ago. And then I visited my sister back East. My late, beloved sister whom I adored more than life itself. Except. Except she was a temptress. She’d slip a few chocolate covered raisins in front of me when I was answering email. I’d say, “Rita! I’m not eating sugar.”
“Oh, you can have just one.”
What can I tell you? She was my big sister. I was raised to do as she said. I left San Francisco at peace with my addiction and returned with the monkey on my back.
So now, hungover from a pint of Ben and Jerry’s last night yet again, I’m taking the pledge.
Making bargains with myself. I’d even make bargains with God. If I believed he existed and could help me. Give me back Rita, I’d say, and I’ll give up sugar for good. Or, Wendy, my best friend who couldn’t care less about sugar, and took her skinny self off to the afterlife a few months ago and left me bereft.
Yeah, I’d give up ice cream for good to get Wendy or Rita back.
And that’s what it would take. Some serious pledge to the universe, because for the life of me, I don’t know what else would work.
Here are a few more stories about the struggles of an aging me.
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