Sunday, March 17, 2013

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

This post continues my series on all the surprising things I’ve learned in my quest to maintain a 100-pound weight loss. Today I want to take on something I have struggled with my entire life and that is my relationship with food. If you are overweight, you know what I mean. I’m talking about all those nutty things that go on in your head, making you feel powerless around the foods that keep you fat. And, like I did, you might harbor the conviction that once you straighten out your relationship with food, you will suddenly and magically find all of the excess weight melting away. Your new food sanity will bring you to a rarified state where maintaining a healthy weight will be easy, effortless even. What I’ve learned in the last five years about this belief is this:

Unexpected Nugget #4: My relationship with food is not the problem.

How can I possibly say this? Wasn’t I the master of the midnight pasta binge? An ice cream extremist? The girl who could never eat just one cookie when the whole box beckoned? Isn’t that proof positive that my relationship with food was all screwed up? That I was all screwed up? After all, those things cannot possibly be called normal behavior.

Well, that’s one way to look at it. Here’s another. Maybe my brain was perfectly sane. Except that I was addicted. To sugar. What if I did not have a dark, twisted relationship with food at all, but instead had a physical addiction to sugar – and its kissing cousin, high-fructose corn syrup – that drove me to crave sweets? Or other foods, like pasta, that turn into sugar when you digest them?

The idea that it’s all in our plump little heads, that our relationship with food is profoundly messed up, keeps the blame for obesity on the overweight person and off of a food industry that makes fat profits by designing products full of sugar that we are unable to resist because we have become addicted to them. When someone points out this fact and takes aim at the problem, like Michael Bloomberg and his ban on oversized servings of sweetened soft drinks, that person is mocked and condemned as an agent of the ever-growing Nanny State, trying to take away our Big Gulp freedom. The irony of all of this is beyond comprehension, because once sugar gets its crystalline claws into you, you are anything but free.

So, here’s the deal. My relationship with food is and has always been just fine, thank you. What messed me up was my love affair with sugar, which is why sugar and I are no longer a couple. As any ex-addict will tell you, once you get liberated from your drug, it’s best to keep it as far away as possible, though that’s easier done with things like nicotine or cocaine, since you don’t need those substances to survive and it’s unlikely anyone will insist you have just one little Christmas Cigarette or Holiday Hit.

My estrangement from sugar is a bit trickier. Sometimes he tries to woo me back, as abusive boyfriends are wont to do. It’s not a perfect situation, and sometimes I slip up. But I’m not crazy either. And neither are you.


  1. Excellent post - makes all the sense in the world. I really need to make me a poster that says sugar is addictive. I've always known it is - I just never did anything about it. I quit sugar (and white stuff that turns to sugar in my body) at the beginning of 2012 - JUST TO SEE if stopping the inflammation would stop the arthritis pain. It did. 90% of arthritis pain gone after 5 days, lost 30 pounds over 6 months, AND, THE BIGGIE: I was able to be taken off insulin that I'd been on for years. 'Course I'm not smart enough to STAY off sugar, and will eat a ridiculous amount at one sitting, but that urge seldom occurs now, and I'm able to get right back on my clean eating path. Thanks for a super post!

    1. Donna, that's amazing that your arthritis pain was gone in 5 days! Why don't doctors know this stuff?

  2. Excellent post! Agree with everything you said.