An Ode to Sugar (From an Addict)

sugar heart candy

I’ve long had a love affair with Almond Joy pieces. Every night we would climb into bed together and I would caress the blue bag, pulling them out one by one to nibble at the candy shell, hoping upon hope that when I finally bit into the luscious chocolate there would be an almond surprise waiting for me.

Before that it was Nerd Ropes. Our passionate tryst lasted a good couple of years and I would twirl them around my finger like rainbow locks of hair, gently pulling the big Nerds off the gummy and popping them into my mouth.

Once upon a time, I was even married to Rice Krispie treats. We lasted about ten years. Unfortunately, after so much time together, the relationship grew stagnant and we fell into a comfortable routine wherein I would no longer bother to shave my legs and the krispies would no longer conform to a pan or squares. They would show up as a blob on my dinner plate accompanied by a fork. They just really let themselves go. We were quite the threesome when the utensil came along. Eventually I realized the dysfunction and we parted ways.

I’ve cried over a good strawberry rhubarb pie.

Lemon bars have broken my heart wide open.

Warm brownies topped with vanilla ice cream have done me in. Over and over again.

As a kid I was less discerning about who I cavorted with. There was Hubba Bubba, Big Hunk, Snickers, Pop Rocks (though, admittedly, he was a bit old for me), Baby Ruth (he was too young), Mike and Ike (I was too young), Watchamacallit… Ah, lovers all. The only two I couldn’t hang with were Peeps and Candy Corn. We just couldn’t get along no matter how much I tried.

Like any decent addict I wasn’t always in integrity when it came to my relationship with sugar either. One summer, when I was about ten, my seventy-five year old Grandmother came to stay. I was in dire need of a sugar fix, but my mom didn’t keep much on hand in the house. I cried to my Grandma that I had a project due at school – a mammoth sculpture comprised of colored miniature marshmallows and toothpicks – but my parents wouldn’t get me what I needed. She looked into my tear stained face and agreed to walk the two miles with me to the store and purchase my goods. That night in bed, I stared at my masterpiece composed of about twelve mini marshmallows and saw the empty bag lying next to it and clutched at my heaving stomach. Then I prayed to God for forgiveness for my lies in the name of my addiction. Okay, in reality, I probably just said, “I’m sorry, God” and uttered about half a Hail Mary.

I’m forty-three now and not much has changed (aside from the integrity piece now that I have my own money to get my fix.) When I walk into the grocery store during any holiday I head straight for the middle two aisles. It’s like opening the door to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The colors are so bright, the lighting so optimized, and there are shiny tinfoil chocolates for every season… and Valentine’s hearts and Cadbury eggs and jellybeans and Christmastime… Forget about it.

On January 10th, due to some pretty severe health issues, I cut out the sugar.

100%.

I’m in mourning.

Coupled with fits of denial.

What about Stevia? What about pure maple syrup? What about coconut palm sugar? What about certified organic pure maple sugar?

No?

What about a bullet to my nucleus accumbens, then? (I mean, I no longer really need that part of my brain associated with reward now, right?)

Now I eat bananas every. single. day. A staple that was never before included in my diet because I hate the texture. Mush anyone? In my previous life the only use I had for banana was as a flavor in my Runts candy conveniently shaped just like a banana and oh-so-delicious. Now this, um… soft fruit has  become my saving grace. My savior. My best friend. I blend it up in shakes and I mash it up with coconut oil, pure vanilla extract and cinnamon and pour it over baked apples for a mock apple pie.

And still I mourn.

Valentine’s Day is approaching. Those candy hearts taunt me in their bright red bags with their sweet sayings stamped into succulent sugar.

As for my health issues and this new anti-inflammatory diet, I’ll be writing about that another time when I’m over the withdrawals and have shed my black veil.

I’d love to hear about your relationship to sugar. And… any tips you might have for my cravings would be oh-so-welcome.

In sweetness, sort of,

Melanie

19 replies
  1. Jill says:

    Holy cow. 100% cold turkey? Sheesh. I’m impressed. Maybe that’s why those people in South Korea are paying to watch ‘Diva’ eat…have you heard about this craziness? A 33 year old pretty good is eating and people are paying tons of money to live vicariously on youtube.
    Best of luck as you fill up on the sweet life instead. 🙂

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      OMG! Are you kidding? No, I hadn’t heard about that. Hell, I might pay money to watch her eat.

      I like that, fill up on the sweet life instead! Thanks, love.

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply
  2. Sheila Bergquist says:

    Melanie, you are one strong woman! Giving it up so drastically…WOW! I read somewhere that if you crave something sweet to eat something salty instead…don’t know if it works, but thought I’d pass it on. Good for you though and I know how hard that was and is…hang in there.

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      It has been hard, Shelia. Fortunately my boyfriend is kind and patient and I haven’t harmed anyone. It does get better day by day though. I guess, as in the I’m Sorry post I’m just working to be more mindful about my sugar intake, eh? I’ll not stop eating sweets forever, but it won’t be an every night affair.

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply
  3. Teri Anderson says:

    It gets a little easier as your body adjusts but those cravings stick around for a LOOOONG time. I went sugar-free for over a year and felt great. My splurge was Russell Stover Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate Miniatures – just a satisfying bite of chocolate goodness but not sweet enough to set me dreaming of forbidden treats.

    Unfortunately, I decided I could eat a little dessert every now and then – next thing I knew I was back where I started and I’ve not had the willpower to kick the habit again. Maybe you could start Sugarholics Anonymous and be my sponsor. Good luck on your sugar free journey!

    Keep eating those bananas and oranges and kiwis and berries and apples…..

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      Can we sponsor each other 🙂 I’ve been blown away by the research of sugar being akin to cocaine in it’s addictive-ness. WOW!

      I keep telling myself I’ll be able to splurge a little when this is all over, but I just don’t know. I have found some healthier sugar desserts made with coconut palm sugar and the like that I longingly stare at every evening.

      Much love, off to eat a banana,

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply
        • Melanie Bates says:

          Thanks, Teri! I think we may be coming up to your area this summer. I’d so love to see you if you’re around. I’ll keep in touch with you about it.

          <3

          Reply
  4. Midge says:

    Once the wicked stuff is out of mind and body (and sight!) for a while, the cravings subside. And you start to feel a pure energy that doesn’t come from a wrapper, but from within.

    Thanks for writing about such a sticky topic with such a light heart. Sugar is a health crisis culprit, that’s for certain. It’s pure white, sweetly addictive, wicked stuff!

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      I agree, Midge, but it sure is yummy 🙂

      I’m trying to figure out if there’s a balance. Like when this anti-inflammatory diet is all said and done will I be able to find recipes made with pure Maple syrup, for example. I recognize with auto-immunity that I’ll always be on this diet to an extent, but there must be ways to incorporate treats that aren’t made with cane sugar. Or… that’s the hope I hold onto.

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply
  5. Emma French says:

    Hi Melanie
    I have been enjoying reading your blog, and especially relate to this piece as I am a total sugar addict as well! I don’t think I could easily give up sugar of all kinds, but I don’t eat much of the nasty white (or brown) stuff these days – in fact I haven’t had any packets of refined sugar in the house for several years now, though I have been known to go a little crazy with homemade desserts at parties(!)
    Instead I eat a lot of fruit and use dates, or raw honey (which I am lucky enough to get direct from the producer). You can use dates in pretty much everything – I recently made myself a flourless orange birthday cake with just oranges, eggs, almonds, dates and desiccated coconut, and then I made a syrup for it with fresh orange juice simmered with honey – yummmmm!
    Good luck,
    Em (of the lewd lemon story!)

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      OMGoddess, Em, that sounds yummy. I can’t have honey yet, but I bet I could eat dates. I imagine I’ll never fully go back to the white stuff, really. Once in a very blue moon.

      I SO adored your lewd lemon story… One of the best ever!

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply
  6. Anne Marie Bennett says:

    About a year ago I realized I was hypoglycemic, and the only solution is to NOT EAT SUGAR. So I pretty much don’t. The main motivator for me was that I did not want to ever again experience those symptoms. I’ve gone thru a couple of phases on the last year when I was “testing the sugar waters” so to speak. Seeing how much sugar I could take. NOT doing that again either! Can you have xylitol? It’s a natural sweetener that does not affect blood sugar. Also, Karly Randolph Pitman’s book: Overcoming Sugar Addiction was really really helpful in so many ways- the physical addiction part of it as well as the emotional ramifications of giving up sugar. Blessings to you! Anne Marie in MA

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      Thank you SO much, Anna Marie. This is great information. I’m right on the cusp of being diabetic – like .02 away from full-fledged diabetes. There are a lot of other things going on as well, but essentially I’m on an anti-inflammatory diet.

      I was just allowed Stevia and Monk Fruit Extract – not xylitol yet. I have started a Pinterest board where I’m hoarding recipes that eventually I’ll be able to make – without sugar, but with things like xylitol.

      Many blessings to you and THANK YOU for the book recommend and kind encouragement.

      Sisters without sugar,
      Melanie

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] alluded to what’s been up with me in my blog: An Ode to Sugar (from an Addict) wherein I discussed the fact that I had cut the white stuff out of my life. The real deal is that […]

  2. […] you may remember from my Ode to Sugar post, I had been on a functional doctor-ordered diet of cray-cray: no sugar, no gluten, no dairy, […]

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