Hello. My name is Clinton, and I’m a sugarholic.
I’ve been addicted to sugar as long as I can remember. I’ve tried stopping many times, but I always go back. As a kid I’d stuff as much bubble gum in my mouth as possible, chew all the sugary juice out of it and start again, three or four times. Or I’d just belly up to the kitchen bar and eat it by the spoonful. When I got older I moved on to cakes and pies, sometimes eating as much as half of one at a time. My grandmother was my pusher, and a steady stream of sweets kept me hooked.
When I worked at newspapers I kept a stash of candy bars in my desk. The closer I’d get to deadline, the more I’d shovel in the Mounds and Snickers, Butterfingers and Baby Ruths. Sometimes the chocolate would give me a headache or add to the buzz. Sometimes I’d get so high I’d just hover in place for a while, riding as long as I could, my eyesight bleary, my fingers numb. Then I’d drop. Hard.
Sometimes, I’d even chase it all with a Dr. Pepper, but only when times got really bad.
Sugar became my calling card. In new circles — new job, new city — I’d quickly earn a reputation as a heavy user. And I used it to my advantage. I’d learned to bake, to better support my habit, like cooking my own meth, and I would impress people with elaborate tasty treats. I’d become known as the guy who would eat any amount of anything, as long as it was sweet.
A sweet tooth has been my Band Aid and my banner. It’s that steady old friend who helps drown my worries and doesn’t ask questions. And, when I need it most, it affords me an impressively high tolerance.
Candy. Sugar. Honey. Sweetie. These have been my mistresses. High-dollar truffles or cheap flashy processed goods, I can fly with the all.
This addiction is one trait I’d hoped not to pass down to Ella. Let her have my conjoined toes, but spare her the lust for a sugar rush.
Having a kid, well, it’s saved me, I think, from becoming a complete and total sucrose junkie. I’m better now. I still have weak moments. I try to hide them, so Ella won’t see me do it. I wait until dark and slip into the pantry and raid her Halloween stash. If Ella’s around and I just got to have a hit, I’ve mastered the art of unwrapping candy so that it’s almost a silent undressing. I’ll pop a mini bar in my mouth, let it melt for just a moment, to soften it, then chew quickly while I talk and swallow discreetly.
Sometimes, I go outside and sneak a cookie … or half a bag of Chips Ahoy.
Last night, on the way home from work, I had some things on my mind (stinkin job!), so I pulled into a place not far from my house and had a double, a king-size Almond Joy.
Then, of course, the guilt. The shame. After a binge I feel almost dirty, less than human, like I’m taking my health for granted. I’m not diabetic. I’m not overweight. I should take better care of myself. But sugar … it’s just so good.
And, I’m afraid, Ella’s got the bad gene. She eats well, and rarely complains about our choice of foods. But if she knows there’s ice cream in the freezer or cookies in the cupboard, she quickly reaches her capacity for dinner, only to find room for treats half an hour later. The way she plows through an ice cream cone … it’d be a thing of beauty, if only I didn’t know how dangerous it is.
We’re trying to teach Ella a better way. I know we can do it, I know we can break the chain to sugar, like snapping a Twix. But it’s gotta start with me. I’ve got to do better, so my kid doesn’t follow me down this Milky Way.