Boy, did I screw up a few nights ago. It was the end of a hard, good work week. Macrobiotics says the bigger the front, the bigger the back, or another way, a lot of strong, yang* energy makes one naturally crave a good shot of yin* for balance. This particular night, the yin was in.
I started with a sparkling glass of JCB pinot noir ($12) and a bowl of Kale and Shelling Bean Minestrata ($7) from Portola Kitchen in Portola Valley - both excellent. But then I went home to all my sweet treat leftovers from the Fancy Food Show. Loudly, they started calling my name the minute I walked in. First, an innocent sample size bag of Brownie Bites got my attention, then the Dagoba Lavender chocolate spoke up, followed by a Ghirardelli bite, a bag of Kettlecorn, some chocolate covered cherries for good measure, and finishing with an ascent to the summit - a rock-hard Cappuccino It's It. By the time I got to the It's It, I don't even think the wrapper made it into the basket. The object was to consume, not to play pretty.
I had so much sugar running through my body, I ended up on the floor, rolling around, but not really moving, for an hour or so. The phone rang, but it went unanswered. I couldn't talk. I was alone in my own little world; mind frozen to anything on the outside.
Some call it a sugar coma.
I went to bed about 10PM, and woke around 2AM. The reaction is similar to drinking too much; the sugar messes with your ability to achieve deep sleep. So I just sat in bed for a few hours, blaming myself for eating so much.
The behavior isn't new, I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for years. There were times in my late 20's I only felt fed eating sugar, and only sugar, for dinner. I was working the line at a natural foods restaurant then, surrounded by good food, but the only satisfying thing were the free broken cookies from the bakery. I ate a lot of them.
However, if there's nothing else I have figured out about life yet, I conquered disordered eating. There are great stories to share, but no longer do I define myself by them, nor worry about an occasional binge. In fact going for it every now and again is part of the continued healing.
Sugar is addictive. I've used it just like a drug for relaxation, stress relief, lack of sleep, uncertainty, fear, boredom, and to create personal boundaries that I didn't know how to achieve on my own. How about you? And you don't have to binge to be addicted. You might be the daily lite sugar junkie with the constant bloated belly. You know, the area below your belt never feels connected to anything above your waist I have a name for it (!) disconnected body syndrome.
I'll credit macrobiotics as a first step toward getting a hold of all this. Forget the crazy word, if you have sugar issues, learn more about feeding your carbo-cravings with more complex carbohydrates found in whole grains and vegetables.
I don't completely avoid sugar (or flour), but I can't eat a lot, because the more I eat, the more I want. On crave nights, sparkling water and some dried fruit are a great distraction. Frozen grapes too.
Coincidentally, last week a friend of mine asked me to "share more about my sugar addiction," because he "has done that in the past." So this blog is for you my dear. And anyone else out there who is so inclined.
Still looking for a New Years resolution? Reduce the amount of sugar you consume. Don't white-knuckle run from the problem - go straight into it. Start incorporating more vegetables and whole grains into your diet. You can reroute the pathways in your brain and start to create new, healthier ones. Slowly you will feel your body come back into balance. What a great feeling!
And remember - it's ok to screw up now and again.
It reminds us why we needed to stop.
photo by Robin Gallo
* Yin: female, wet, cold, moon, calm, relaxing, letting go, steaming, raw, sugar, alcohol, drugs, etc.
* Yang: male, dry, sun, fast, forceful, energetic, fighting, grilling, broiling, salt, meat, etc.