Confessions of a New World Sugar Eater
Sugar is a drug.
Have I told you about the year I spent eating frozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts when I was in elementary school? Some club or other was supposed to be selling them, and I tried going door-to-door (introvert nightmare) to get subscriptions. But the only doughnuts I recall selling were to myself (this memory is a bit confused—how did I pay for them? Maybe we had the doughnuts already?)—which I would eat by the dozen—frozen, because I was too impatient to let them thaw. I can still remember the sugar-glaze high.
High school is a blur of cinnamon rolls (glazed), cookies (baked and raw), ice cream (by the half-gallon). College, ditto. I see photographs of myself from those years, and I am not nearly as fat as I remember feeling. But I remember the binges. The ice cream with Cool Whip. The buttered white-bread toast with sugar. The Little Debbie fruit pies. The bags and bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies. The aching need to keep eating. The demons chittering away in the background promising that this time would be the last. If only I fed them now.
Alchemists would give the demons fancy names like “Insulin Response” and “Neurotransmitters,” but these are just masks the demons wear to work on our feelings. Which, truth be told, insofar as they sugary, are also demonic—that is, driven not by reality, but by phantasms.
“He hates you. He is never going to pay attention to you.” “You’re alone, nobody likes you.” “Your work is pointless; why do you bother?” “You’re going to die, and nobody will come to your funeral.”
Did I mention I have been fasting myself from sugar these past two or three months? Clearly, even my “low-carb” diet has been higher in sugar than I was willing to admit, given that these thoughts are current, not something I have to pretend to remember from high school.
I know how to stop them now. All I have to do to make them shut up is eat some sugar. It doesn’t need to be whole cakes or pints of ice cream. Even a kid’s-size box of raisins will make them subside.
For a bit.
Until my blood sugar drops again.
And the demons return.
I had an interesting moment a few Sundays ago driving to Mass. I am guessing my blood sugar had dropped more than it should, but somehow my eyes went wonky as I was driving. Just for a moment, but it was scary enough.
That Sunday we were celebrating St. Joseph, complete with Italian-style St. Joseph’s table, covered in cookies and cake.
A.k.a. medicine for the body and soul.
I ate like a teen-ager in high school—albeit modestly, the way I might eat in public, not in the depths of my mother’s basement, watching Dallas and wishing I were thin.
I had to get my blood sugar up, you see. I couldn’t see otherwise. I was afraid I might die.
Which is how the demons get us in the first place—with promises of happiness and energy, when the only thing they can give us is more sin.
I can hear the demons now.
“Don’t be silly, it’s just dessert.” “You deserve a treat now and then.” “It wouldn’t be a birthday party without cake!” “All you have to do is eat it slowly, then you won’t get fat.”
Cut to me, face down in cake and icing, scarfing up the lot.