photo: Kate Ter Haar on flickr

photo: Kate Ter Haar on flickr

For those of you who are already up in arms because I put the words “sexy” and “addiction” in one sentence, hear me out.

Addiction is not sexy. I know this.

But in our wacky modern culture, particularly the materialist, consumerist portion of this culture, these two words are often bafflingly blended. (I’m aware that the word baffingly is not often used, but it should be. Indeed, I find it bafflingly curious that baffingly is not used in almost every sentence ever uttered.)

Here’s what I find so bafflingly baffling:

Heroin chic.

You know what I’m talking about, right?

This is where we see pictures of models so thin and wasted, they look like they had heroin for breakfast.

good times

Oh yeah! That makes me wanna buy your product!

But somehow it does. At least, for some people.

I guess because we’re all under the impression that we – especially female we’s – can never get thin enough.

Plus drug use is still considered cool.

It’s daring, it’s renegade, it’s an F— You to the Man and the Establishment and the Status Quo.

If you’ve ever heard a recovering drug or alcohol addict talk about their past, they have tons of wild and crazy stories. Stolen cars and high-speed chases, nights in jail and inappropriate encounters with everyone from nuns to law enforcement officials.

photo: Timothy Krause and Carl Wycoff on flickr

photo: Timothy Krause and Carl Wycoff on flickr

There’s something free and unrestrained and – dare I say – sexy about it.

But you know what’s not sexy?

Going to the grocery store and buying three bags of cookies and eating them all.

Nobody brags about that.

Or how about having clothes in four different sizes, because your weight goes up and down so often, you can’t have just one size?

Ooooooooooh. Take a picture of that! Use that to sell magazines and computers, why don’tcha?!

But no one does, because food addiction, in my humble opinion, is the Least Sexy Addiction in the World.

For me, it started in sixth grade.

That’s when I started using food, specifically sugar, to soothe myself.

What started out as an occasional candy bar eventually escalated into a daily, hefty portion of sugary items.

photo: joyosity on flickr

photo: joyosity on flickr

At age sixteen, I decided I needed to lose some weight.

Being the over-achiever that I am, I proceeded to lose so much weight that I became anorexic.

This only lasted for a few months, though. I soon bounced back, gaining about eighty pounds in the space of a few months. Years of compulsive overeating followed.

See what I mean? Not sexy.

No crazy encounters with nuns or cops. Or nuns posing as cops.

Just lots of time alone. Eating.

For me, the big revelation came when I was twenty-three years old.

That’s when I realized I was addicted to sugar. When I removed sugar from my diet, the craziness around food began to subside.

I also realized that I’d been depressed the entire time I was abusing sugar.

I still had a ways to go. For several years, I measured out portions of food to retrain myself into eating healthy portions. I spent some time with other people in recovery from food addiction. I continually asked the Divine for help.

When I was in my thirties, I moved in with a partner who had two kids. I called their home the House of Sugar, for obvious reasons.

photo: Carrie Stephens on flickr

photo: Carrie Stephens on flickr

Needless to say, I fell off the wagon several times.

The last time I ate sugar was about twenty years ago.

And not just a little sugar. For three days, I ate nothing but sugar.

After my binge, I got really sick and was unable to write for several days.

That’s what really got to me.

Mess with my health, that’s one thing. But mess with my writing practice? I don’t think so.

It’s been No Sugar ever since.

One day at a time.

photo: Diganta Talukdar on flickr

photo: Diganta Talukdar on flickr

Melissa and I have been talking recently about the consumption of sugar. We’ve been wondering if it’s more or less helpful to view sugar as an addictive substance.

For me, it is.

Realizing that I react addictively to sugar – what starts out as a little always ends up being a lot – helps me stay away from it.

If I didn’t take it seriously as an addiction, before long I’d find myself back at the bottom of an Entemans’ chocolate cake. Or two.

No, I don’t have any sexy stories to report. No high-speed chases with nuns bearing assault weapons.

But I have my health. And my peace of mind.

And that, for me, is the sexiest thing ever.

photo: ePi.Longo on flickr

photo: ePi.Longo on flickr

What’s your relationship to sugar? Is it more or less helpful to see it as addictive? Share your comments below!

(I currently respond to all comments on this blog. If for some reason your comment does not appear on the blog, it has been trapped in my gigantic spam folder. Please try again!)

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