MY ACHILLES HEEL

Everyone has one.  Mine just happens to be sugar.  In the grand scheme of things this, at first glance, may not seem such a bad one to have.  It’s not like I do drugs.  But the hold that sugar has on me is as strong as any drug would be.  I know that sugar is bad for me.  I do my best not to eat it.  I’ve even gone years without eating candy.  But I NEVER stop craving it.  Even as I am writing this I am popping jelly beans, one at a time, into my mouth.  They aren’t just any old jelly beans, either.  They are sweet tart jelly beans, only around for Easter.  (Thank goodness!)  As one friend said, it combines my favorite things: jelly beans and sweet tarts.  And to top it all off, they are pretty.

Last November I participated in a whole foods cleanse.  I successfully cut out sugar for an entire month.  The biggest ‘side effect’ was no more hot flashes.  You’d think that alone would be enough to stop me from eating, or drinking, sugar.  But no, it’s not.

This has been a lifelong addiction for me.  I remember as a little girl walking to the candy store to buy penny bubblegum, sweet tarts and  Sugar Daddys, those caramel suckers.  I used to see how many pieces of gum I could fit in my mouth at once.  I think my record was 10.  It’s not like you can really chew 10 pieces of bubblegum at one time, especially when you have a small mouth, as most children do.    It was such a waste of perfectly good gum.  My m.o., when I wasn’t stuffing my mouth full, was to put one piece at a time in my mouth, chew it until the flavor was gone, spit it out and continue until all my gum was gone. Then I’d go back to the store for more.

I am pretty sure it was 1968 when I had my first giant sweet tart.  Before that, sweet tarts only came in a package with little pieces in pink, yellow, purple and green.  My favorites were pink and yellow.  I didn’t really like the purple ones, but that never seemed to stop me from eating them.  Anyway, my first giant sweet tart was yellow, and my tongue bled from licking it.  It actually bled!  But did that stop me from eating it?  Hardly!  Eventually, I think my tongue developed calluses and I could eat as many as I wanted without a problem.

When I was on the swim team, most kids ate raw jello; that is, jello out of the box that was still in powder form.  I never cared for this.  It was not nearly sour enough for me.  That’s when I started eating powdered lemonade.  Of course, that was sour enough, but it caused my mouth to bleed if I ate too much.  Then I discovered Hawaiian Punch powder.  I did not just eat it from the packages that made, if you actually were to add water to it, 2 quarts of juice.  Oh, no, I would get the cans of it, and because putting in my hand to lick it up made my palms red, I started using a small plate.  That way I had clean hands.  Of course, my tongue was always red.  I seriously must have eaten well over 100 pounds of the stuff over the course of time.  I ate it well into my 20s and really only stopped because they stopped making it, and I could never find another brand that tasted as good to me.  At some point, too, I must have decided to stop eating so much sugar.

I do remember in my late 20s when I lived in Germany finding a really good candy that was similar to sweet tarts, but somehow better.  I thought I was gaining weight while there because of this candy.  Turned out it was the Bailey’s milkshakes I was having several times (or more) a week, but that’s another story.  Since I thought it was the candy, I decided to quit, to go cold turkey.  And I did it.  I didn’t eat candy for 3 or 4 years, and then one day I gave into my craving, and that was it.  By that time, sweet tarts had started putting blue candies in the rolls.  Those are definitely my favorite.  The bad thing about the rolls of sweet tarts was not being able to see exactly what number of which colors were in a particular roll, and there were never enough of the blue ones.  I would buy rolls, take all of them out, eat the blue ones first, then the pink, yellow, and maybe the green, and throw away the purple.  I was always bummed when there was only a couple of blues ones.  Then, for some weeks or even months, I’d cut back on my consumption.  It never lasted for long, though.

I really would like to be free of this addiction to sugar, in particular sweet tart jelly beans.  Luckily, as soon as Easter is gone, so will these tempting little pieces of sour joy.  It is so bad that just walking by the store that has them makes my mouth start to water.  I keep telling myself NO MORE.  And I’ll follow that directive for a day or two, and then I have to go to the store, and somehow those suckers jump into my grocery basket, and I continue to eat them.  If I was able to eat only a small handful each day, then maybe that would be okay.  But that’s not what happens.  I end up eating half the bag, which gives me a stomach ache, which makes me say that I’ll stop eating them.  Until the next day, when I wake up and my stomach doesn’t hurt anymore.  Grr….

I stopped eating sugar almost 4 years ago. I did really well for a long time.  It’s not like I never had processed sugar, but I was pretty good.  Even during Halloween and Easter I was okay as long as I stayed away from the aisles that carried my beloved sweet tarts.  I just didn’t go near them.  I was also in a relationship and I’ve come to realize lately that that made a huge difference for me.  I did not feel compelled to eat so much sugar because the pleasure centers that eating sugar stimulates were being filled through my relationship.  So I know exactly WHY I am eating it now and why I can’t seem to stop.  My intention, once I became aware of this, is to be gentle with myself.  I will continue to do my best to NOT eat it; and if, when, I do, I will not beat myself up.  I have every confidence in myself that one of these days I will just stop.  I’ve done it before and I will do it again.

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