onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

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Just because you won’t look at it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there

The New York Times apparently thought I’d be surprised by how many foods contain added sugar. The New York Times obviously doesn’t know me very well. Or read my blog. Which is fine…I guess…

But really, do people not know?

I know that I read labels and not everybody does. So maybe I know that there is sugar or starch added to all sorts of things you wouldn’t expect, like pork and fish. And maybe people who don’t read labels don’t realize that. But in the grand scheme of things, if you are not addicted to sugar the way I am, maybe in small amounts it’s not enough to affect you. (Though, seriously, fish? Why does anyone need to add sugar to fish?)

But do people really not know that if something tastes like candy, it has sugar in it? Seriously. Do you, as an adult, really still think Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch is part of a balanced breakfast, just because when we were kids they said so in the commercial and printed it on the side of the box? (Alright fine, it does have 25% of your recommended daily riboflavin.)

Here’s the thing. I’m not talking about everybody quitting sugar. I am sick around sugar, but I don’t pretend that everyone is. And I am a firm believer in freedom. Like I think that people have the right to smoke. But nobody is pretending that cigarettes are good for you. I was a smoker for many years, I knew what I was doing, and I did it anyway. Smokers know that smoking is dangerous. And if you tell a smoker that smoking is bad for them – which people sure do like to do for some reason – and you get a shocked response, it is sarcastic. Because everyone knows and you’re being a moron.

But we pretend that certain sugar foods are “packed with nutrition.” And we let people be shocked when somebody says that a granola bar is not that healthy; it’s mostly just sugar. But have you had a granola bar? If it tastes like an oatmeal cookie, that’s what it is. Even if it’s rectangular, and says “organic” on it. As a culture, we say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but we eat doughnuts and Pop-Tarts. Or frosted cinnamon rolls. Or various kinds of bread with syrup.

Again, the judgment is not about what we are eating, but how we are lying about it. If you want to eat sugar for breakfast, I will not try to stop you. More power to you. But you know that doughnuts are just cake. Breakfast cake, yes. Sure! But still just cake. And if I see you “look shocked” when you “find out” that the snack that you bought at the health food store, which totally tastes like a candy bar, is just a candy bar, I am going to have to call bullshit.

But here’s the thing. I get it. Because when I didn’t want to give up sugar, I also pretended that health food store candy was not candy. And I pretended that healthy meant it wouldn’t make me fat. But I wasn’t losing any weight. And I wasn’t interested in looking at the truth if it meant that I was going to come face to face with my relationship with sugar.

As a culture we are playing dumb for one another. We’re a bunch of enablers. And I think it’s ridiculous. Eat what you choose. I hope you enjoy every bite. But I also hope you have your eyes open. Not looking at the sugar, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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If it were easy, they would call it something else.

So um, yeah…This is not one of my favorite blogs to write. Because it involves admitting that I have been behaving badly. Like an asshole even…

See, I have this job. And where I work there is a specific culture. And in this specific culture, people are allowed to behave badly. They are allowed to throw pens at people’s heads. They are allowed to belittle each other. They are allowed to shame and humiliate each other. They are allowed to take credit for things they do not do. And blame people for things they should be taking responsibility for. They are allowed actively harass and abuse people. To get under their skin to the point that they quit. To actually try to get people to quit. They are allowed to act out and throw temper tantrums and be jerks. And then, when they are done, so everybody can continue to do their jobs, everybody just pretends that this bullsh*t never happened. *whistle whistle whistle* Nothing going on here, Why do you ask?

It’s also particularly difficult for me because when I was in New York as a babysitter, my job was to teach people how to grow up to not be like this. My job was to show young humans how to deal with difficult emotions and situations with honesty, compassion and grace. To teach them that as people, they would sometimes be hurt, angry, jealous, unhappy, cranky, and a whole host of other things that are uncomfortable for the person feeling them, and for the people around them. But that it was possible to honor those emotions without lashing out at people. And even that it was ok to lash out at others occasionally. The point was to know that it was not your “right.” That it was not justified. That when you did something unkind, and behaved in a way that was unacceptable, you took responsibility for it. That you mended that relationship.

When I first started this job, I felt very much above the pettiness. I could see it, but I had a sort of kindergarten teacher aura about me. I simpered and nodded and for the most part ignored anything that was not directed at me. And parried the blows that were directed at me.

But as time goes on, the more I feel myself becoming part of the culture. Taking part in the gossip. Yelling at my co-worker. Snapping at my boyfriend. (This is the hardest one to deal with. This is the one that scares me the most. That I’m going to become an old fishwife. And stop being the kind of woman I want to be in a relationship with the man I love.)

And then I have this fear of being the kind of person I want to be within the culture of my job. I am afraid of getting eaten alive. Because the people I work with would not see this as honor and integrity. They would see it as weakness. And I might be the next one who was tortured until I quit. Or perhaps my boyfriend would be that next one.

If you are wondering what this has to do with food addiction, the answer is that this is the kind of thing I used to eat over. Yes, being treated badly. And a constant, underlying fear of the next “episode.” But more, I ate over being an asshole. I ate over all of the things I did and said that made me ashamed of myself.

I don’t know what to do about this situation. I have a commitment to not quit right now. To give it more time. I will continue to do my best to be a good person. And to find peace in myself around my life and my job. And to behave in a way that I can live with. And if I behave in a way I cannot live with, I will do something about it that does not involve eating sugar or breaking my food boundaries.

But the thought I want to end with today is that I need to remember that I am growing. As a person who wants to live a life of honor and integrity. As a person who wants to live in the solution. As a person who wants to be a part of the solution. And that growing is not easy or obvious. And I will most certainly not be graceful at it. If I were already good at it, I would not be growing.

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