When I gave up drinking, I took up sugar and exercise. I traded one addiction for two, though to say I didn’t have a sweet tooth before would be a lie. I just didn’t abuse sugar as hard before. At one of my first recovery meetings, I stood outside smoking and talking to a woman who said she used to carry a bag of Starburst in early recovery. “But you gotta be careful with that,” she said and I nodded, already knowing I was in trouble.
I was one of those oddballs who didn’t lose a single pound when I stopped drinking. And I drank mostly beer, and not light beer either but high alcohol, high calorie IPAs and porters. But when I look at my eating habits since I stopped drinking, I’m not surprised I didn’t lose weight. I traded booze for Mike and Ikes, jelly beans, cookies, ice cream. I once dipped cookies in caramel and I share that with you because if someone finds me comatose this would be helpful to know. Maybe I need a medical alert bracelet that says ‘sugar freak’ or ‘fatty fatso’ though honestly I’m not fat. That’s where the exercise comes in.
When I run, I feel good. Well, to be more precise, I feel better after I run. When I run, sometimes I feel like I’m going to die and I imagine wolves chasing me so I don’t stop. Then a funny thing happens and I feel really fucking good. That endorphin rush or whatever it is stays with me hours afterwards. It improves my mood and I feel it throughout my body like a low-grade hum. Eating three large handfuls of jelly beans has nothing on a 30 minute walk/run. I don’t even know what I get from sugar except shame.
I quit smoking several months back and sugar is next on the chopping block. It’s going to be a heluva lot harder. The other day I googled sugar addiction which led me to low blood sugar which led me to hypoglyemic diet which led me to south beach diet. It’s kind of nice to know I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. This weekend I’ll go to the library for some cookbooks and see how they look.
The only way to get rid of alcohol cravings is to give up alcohol. The same goes for sugar, which is no shock since alcohol is sugar. Did I drink so much because I’m a sugar junkie or do I eat so much sugar because I’m an alcoholic? Who knows, but once again I find myself unable to imagine a life without sugar. It sounds impossible and decidedly unfun.
But then I think about dunking a fucking cookie in fucking caramel and doing so privately and shamefully and it reminds me so much of my final days of drinking that I find myself thinking maybe I can do it afterall.