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.