I didn’t eat a single piece of candy this Halloween, despite my yearly tradition of glorious overindulgence. It’s not that I didn’t want to, or even that I made a conscious decision to stay on track diet-wise. The real reason is that I knew how it would go: I’d eat one piece of chocolate, then another, then I’d decide all bets were off for the evening and I’d devour candy until I was barely visible behind the towering pile of wrappers. I’d be ecstatic at first, then out of control, then steeped with regret. I’d wake up in the morning feeling guilty and short-tempered, sorely tempted to start the day off with a Kit Kat just to give myself a much-needed boost.
In other words, it’s not at all unlike drinking, complete with the dopamine rush and subsequent withdrawal. The bleak spiral I’ve found myself in on the few occasions I’ve binged on junk food lately is totally disproportionate to the act itself, thanks to the associations I’ve made between sugar-guilt and booze-guilt. It’s triggery, if you’ll forgive my use of that annoying word, although not in a craving sort of way — more like a familiar shameful soulsickness that makes me feel broken into a thousand pieces.
It’s something I need to work on, obviously, because come on. It’s candy, not a three-quarters of a bottle of Skyy vodka. And the whole eat-one-“bad”-thing-eat-ALL-the-things behavior is pathological and makes me feel like Barney Gumble.
If I have one recovery goal (besides the obvious) it’s to find a sense of balance in the way I’ve been treating my body. In some ways I went one extreme to another, and I’d like to find a non-obsessive middle ground where I break the bad, not allowed, will ruin life connections between alcohol and certain foods so I can have some damn chocolate sometimes and missing a workout doesn’t bring on a panic attack that all my discipline is gone forever because daily burpees are the only magical fucking wizard-spell keeping me from backsliding into entropy.
Do you know that Liz Phair song, “Johnny Feelgood”? It’s the perfect description of all sorts of addictions, I think.
Moderation is a memory
Dive right in and let him send me
I could take this in doses large enough to kill
And I’ve never met a man I was so crazy about
It kinda has become an obsession to me
I hate him all the time
But I still get up
When he knocks me down
And he orders me around
‘Cause it loosens me up
And I can’t get enough
And I’d pay to spend the night with him some more …