Keeping sugar at bay, denying it consumption, feels like holding my breath. Its intensity is like remaining afloat without a life preserver, treading water, and hoping that willpower and strength sustains its absence. Additionally simple sugar weakens me physically and psychologically by its addictive nature. The first physical step along the weight loss journey is simple sugar removal. Highly addictive, long-term weight loss requires its disappearance, enhancing health benefits.
For many, like a drug, sugar has the same numbing effect as heroin. Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, commented that heroin use feels “as if everything will be okay, and reduces emotional and physical pain. Any worries become alright.” Sugar alleviates emotions depth into dormancy. Making everything okay, all concerns slip away, and pain ceases to exist. Like an addictive drug, ceasing to utilize this substance, an aching, wanting, or need continues.
It is 1988. I am living at Boston’s 728 Commonwealth Avenue in apartment 4E. A CVS pharmacy sits adjacent to my building; I eye it with yearning knowing it occupies my need. The drivers in traffic, ignorant of my predicament, manufacture screeches with slipping tires, wrestle with rushing engines, and blast their horns with anxiety that plague them. Yet inside my dwelling, I sit alone, in emotional distress, depressed, and fearful of the emotions that need expression. Lying in a fetal position, my body launches without much consciousness into action to alleviate the pain. The familiar candy isle finds my hands grabbing two one-pound chocolate Hershey Bars. Soon my bed in 4E occupies a drug-induced woman, emotionally numb, her pain dissipating as the sugar settles into her veins. I am she.
This scene repeats itself often, numbing my pain of loneliness, feelings of unworthiness, shame, and aching from the void that lives within me. The cycling of this experience continues as weight mounts, lethargy surfaces instead of productive energy, and numbing prevents feeling anything. Sugar, my drug of choice, alleviates my emotional pain, yet destroys me simultaneously.
Substance abuse and addiction, its destructive element destroys physically, emotionally, and acts as an escape from reality. With my sugar addiction, it increases my waistline, enhances toxicity, and slows my body’s ability to digest and function properly. Psychological need eventually affects my quality of life. Cycling with centrifugal force, fearful of deprivation associated with eliminating sugar, consumption increases. My body continues to crave sugar until I alleviate the blocked emotions and distress that occupy my internal life.
“It’s not jumping out of a plane that will kill you; it’s the landing.” Landing gear for sugar detoxification simulates removal of an addictive substance. It challenges physically with headaches, exhaustion, and a mental pull to return to the additive indulgence. Bodies across America utilize sugar and food as a numbing agent visibly. The addictive substance aids and abets us from feeling emotions, stress, and pain. Without “using,” acknowledging, feeling, and expressing emotions, alters the need to numb. Addressing the purpose for emotional and physical escape via an addictive substance supports my recovery.
Although “everything in moderation” seems my solution, this need not apply to me, a sugar addict. Moderation leads to greater ingested amounts infiltrating my body through loss of control. Small amounts trigger my physical need to reach the same initial high or numbing effect. Like alcoholics, the addictive nature warrants self-control, an elimination of the substance, and a diligent path to recovery. Although socially acceptable and legal, sugar remains a destructive, health problem. Struggling with this affliction, elimination is the ultimate solution. If asked to work in a bakery or candy store, sugar addicts need not apply. This is a recipe for disaster.