Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “willpower”

The good sense to remember I’m an addict.

In this blog I can sometimes write a lot about the periphery of my sugar addiction. I write about the ways I had to change my thinking, or my behavior. I write about how I became more confident by becoming more humble. I write about the ways my life is different because I dealt with my sugar and carbohydrate addiction. But today I want to touch on the food.

I know I have written about it before, but I think it’s worth coming back around to. Because ultimately, all of the peripheral issues I get to wax poetic about, are only available for me because my eating is taken care of. And my eating is taken care of, partially because I have strict rules about my eating behavior, as in strict portion size and 3 meals a day with nothing in between but zero calorie drinks. But mostly my eating is taken care of because I do not put sugar, grains, or starch into my body. This even goes as far as certain vegetables and fruits. I don’t eat potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, cherries, grapes, or bananas. I don’t eat quinoa or brown rice.

Sometimes people balk at this. “Those foods are healthy,” they say.

I am not denying that they are nutritious foods. I am not saying that they are “bad for you.” I’m not saying *you* should not eat them. I am saying that when I put those foods into my body they create a phenomenon of craving that defies all rationality. I am saying that if I eat a sweet potato, it is just a hop, skip, and a jump to me eating an entire cake. That is not hyperbole.

Sometimes people talk about moderation. I do, in fact, practice moderation in the “unhealthy” foods I do still eat. I limit my pork rinds and my sausage. Because I *can* eat those things and limit them. I can eat my portion of sausage and be satisfied until the next time I can eat it.

But I am physically incapable of moderating my sugar intake.

Sometimes people offer me a cookie or a piece of chocolate. Sometimes they say things like “it’s just one,” or “it’s just a little.” And they are correct. It is, indeed, just one, and just a little. But even a little is too much for me and I will not be able to stop there. I will be forced by my addiction, against my will, to go out and get more, and more. It will never be enough. I cannot eat a cookie without finishing the box and then going to the store to get another box and finishing that one too. And again. And again. Forever.

This came up for me because on Twitter the topic of willpower popped up in a series of tweets I was reading. People get very judgy about willpower. Especially when it comes to food and weight. The implication is that people who cannot eat one cookie and then go about their lives are lacking some kind of basic moral foundation. That this thing called “willpower” is somehow the measure of a person’s character and worth. (Especially if that person is fat.)

I want to be the first to say that while I am willful as hell, I do not now, nor have I ever had willpower over eating sugar. When I was eating sugar, I had to eat more sugar, no matter how much I did not want to. I hated my body and wanted to change it, but I could not stop. I wanted boys to think I was pretty and did not want to be fat, and I could not stop. My family was filled with diabetics and I knew it was only a matter of time before I became one too, and I could not stop.

I have now abstained from sugar, grains and starch for over 12 years. So clearly I do have some control, but what I have is not willpower.

What I do have are 2 things: 1) A body free of the substance that causes cravings for more of the substance, and 2) A commitment to remember that one bite of sugar (or flour, or brown rice, or banana) will inevitably mean I will be thrown back into the hellish cycle of craving, eating, and by eating, perpetuating craving.

So I am grateful that I can write here about my emotional and spiritual growth. But that is only possible because my drugs, sugar and carbs, are not in my body. And I take actions every day to keep it that way. Because I don’t have willpower. I just have the good sense to remember every day that I am an addict.


What I’m missing 

Last weekend, my husband and I were home for a few days. On Father’s Day we went to my husband’s parents house. I ate lunch long before the party, and I wouldn’t eat dinner until the evening. I drank water and black coffee with artificial sweetener. I went there knowing I was not going to eat. I had a really nice time.

But of course, there was a lot of food. And of course, people use food to show love. So my father-in-law, who really doesn’t understand my food boundaries, assured me that there was vegetarian pizza if I wanted it. Now, I think this is hilarious. Partly because meat is a thing people regularly assume I don’t eat, when in fact, meat is a huge staple of my diet. And partly because pizza of all things is almost entirely bread, which is definitely something I can’t eat. I’m not poking fun at my father-in-law. I already knew that he doesn’t understand, and that he probably never will. I never mind. I love him, and I love his hospitality. And I have known for a long time that for so many people, the extreme nature of what I do is difficult to wrap their minds around. 

But that is not really the point of me telling you this story. The point is that whenever my father-in-law offers me food, which he does all the time because we genuinely like and love each other, I can tell that he feels so incredibly sorry for me. I can tell that he really wants me to accept, not because it’s a gift, but because he really believes I must be suffering. It has occurred to me that this may actually be the reason he doesn’t understand my food boundaries. Because he thinks it must be painful for me.

That weekend we also took my dad out for lunch for Father’s Day, and when I called the restaurant to make the reservation, I flagged myself as an allergy. (I do this regularly when I eat out.) The woman taking the reservation asked what specifically I was allergic to, and when I told her it was sugars, grains, and starch, the phone went quiet for a second and then she said, “Wait, wow, really?” I laughed and I said “I know. It’s intense.”

People think I must be miserable. People think it must be horrible. So many people feel sorry for me. Even people who know me and know how happy I am. 

I will tell you something. If I didn’t get something out of it, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t be able to. 

I don’t believe in willpower. I don’t have any. And I think that expecting anyone else to have it is silly. I believe that we as humans do things that offer us something more. I have said it before. I have never given up something to lose something. I have only ever given things up to gain. I have gained freedom, self-respect and trust in myself, every time I have let anything go from my life.

So today, we are having company again. Some are people I have never met. I have bought them a kitchen full of food that I won’t eat myself. There will probably be questions and incredulous looks. But all is well. I already know what it is I’m missing, which is to say, I’m not missing anything at all.

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