As age creeps up on me the one thing I loathe most is the fact that I can no longer tolerate the quantity of sugar I desire.
Now I know I'm not particularly old punching in currently at 33, but the metabolism has all gone to shreds compared to 5 years ago let alone back in my late teens. And as I start to actually get unhealthy fat, not the tummy I've always had despite ab workouts and healthy eating, not the gentle nicknames I've had like Gussy (Augustus Gloop) and Dough Boy, but actually unhealthy fat. Extra chins and slower movement unhealthy fat. Fat that isn't natural age paunch or positive 'I love who I am' fat, but unhealthy, eventual cardiac arrest at age 50 fat. I've got to now consider that sugar is impacting upon the life I can share with my children. Bouncing on trampolines and climbing up sand dunes is starting to hurt me and not just in the achy bones and muscles way, but in the heavy chest and excessive shortness of breath way.
I've always had a sweet tooth. From the days when I would stuff all 6 Wagon Wheels down my gullet in a couple of minutes back when I was a small chorister at boarding school
gorging my way through a terms supply of 'Tuck" from my folks in a single sitting, right up until a mere 10 minutes ago when I shovelled a fine dessert from M&S down in the short space of 30 seconds just because I could, I've never been able to control my urges for sugar or the inevitable highs and lows it brings.
It is an addiction. I wanted to say a relatively innocuous one, and maybe it is if you compare it to the more immediately harmful addictions. But it's more serious than people make out. As I crashed massively whilst walking Ben to the beach this afternoon and was left contemplating the point of life (I'm a touch dramatic on a sugar low), the one thing that stayed with me as I resolved that my life is pretty damn fine was that the only reason I was contemplating in the first place was because of the recent over indulgence in sugar. For the record, I took 24 Krispy Kreme doughnuts over to Catherine and her staff at her summer school workshops for a treat. I ate two of them in about a minute. I justified the second by saying that I was only finishing off Ben's pretty much completely untouched one that he had started because it was brightly coloured.
Despite constant attempts to avoid sugar, it is completely entwined into my life. I make myself feel better by saying I don't put sugar on my cereal in the morning, those rare occasions when I have a cup of tea will not involve a spoon or two of sugar and of course, a savoury snack doesn't have sugar in it right? Wrong! There are a thousand programmes talking about the dangers of sugars in our foods. Fortunately, packaging has started to reveal the quantities of sugar that can pervade our food and drinks. Maybe I feel that as I cannot escape sugar, I may as well control it.
That has never worked. Apart from once for Lent in 2011 before Martha was born. It was the worst 6 weeks ever. People were bringing doughnuts and cakes into work, my packed lunches became ever more bland and upsetting to look at. I mean, I hardly starved because I'm fortunate to say that I don't have an eating disorder (or maybe I do, I don't know). I will say that I ate more bananas in those 6 weeks than the entirety of the monkey population of London Zoo. You could have taken a vial of blood from me and it would have been yellow, high in potassium and a surprisingly nice addition to a bowl of muesli. I was Bananaman. Mainly because Eric couldn't find any bananas to eat as I had eaten them all. (Childhood reference there!)
Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way. I know full well that I'm addicted to sugar. I know that I have the ability to cut refined sugar out as I have done it before. Granted, before children BUT, I've done it before. Perhaps there is a middle ground where sugar can be lessened and therefore the addiction reduced?
Not a chance. Whenever I've given myself an out, an option of just a bit more cake or chocolate or sweets, I've taken it. The problem isn't with denying myself things I like, the problem is that I like them in the first place. I'll need to go back further here.
Sugar is not something that has been banned from my existence ever. My parents were always on the right side of treats in my childhood, and although they were not aware at the time of my 8 year old wagon wheel gorging at boarding school at the time, they found out subsequently and tried to aid my gluttony. Never by punitive measure of course, but by an encouragement to eat more fruit etc etc. You know the parental drill. I run it now! As a non-verbal 2 year old, I wouldn't eat anything unless it was covered in yoghurt. Banana yoghurt was a favourite apparently. Coincidence? I'm trying desperately hard to think about what got me onto sugar and I'm writing as I think so you'll get the idea of how my brain is working.
As a chorister we weren't allowed chocolate unless it was a non singing day. (Dairy can clog the old larynx up). I mainly spent my pocket money of some kind of collectors card rather than sweets and my mum would sometimes come shopping with me a top up my pocket money from boarding school with a bag of extra sweets. I liked (I still like) the yellow foam bottomed jelly snakes.
The excuses I come up with are incredible. They range from passing the blame onto someone else to actually denying that there's an issue.Then there is the inevitable blaming of Asperger's. I am more prone to routine and having addictive qualities. I'm more likely to find comfort in places that others may not. There isn't a single person I know who doesn't find comfort in cake. This isn't because I am an Aspie. Being an Aspie allows me to blame being an Aspie for my addiction.
1. I'm an Aspie. (Just mentioned.)
2. We've just moved house, that's stressful, ease your stress by eating 15 snickers bars. You'll burn it all off by moving boxes and stuff. (I didn't.)
3. Martha and Ben are having a treat, so I can have one too. (This happens a lot more in summer holidays but it still happens all the year round.)
4. Catherine's pregnant, support her body changing by changing yours. (I look more pregnant than Cath because she's growing a child and I'm stuffing my face full of cinnamon buns.)
5. I didn't have time for breakfast, so I can have a whole four pack of double chocolate Tesco Finest cookies because it makes up for it. (I once had the oat and raisin cookies and felt better because they had fruit in)
6. We've just been to the sweet shop and got a small drumstick lolly for Ben and a whistle-pop for Martha. I can, as a result, order 400g of toffee crumble and eat it all without sharing. (Not always toffee crumble, sometimes strawberry bon bons)
These are but a handful of non excuses for gluttony, shameful freeloading off my kids and a feeding of an addiction that has spiralled out of control.
The endless analysis has to end somewhere and it stops here.
I'm addicted to sugar. I can't stop. Yet. As age starts to play a part in the choices I make, how can I break the cycle of sugar addiction.
The thing is, it's beginning to get me down. Not just at those pesky sugar lows, where the world must be re-analysed and my life put into perspective. I honestly questioned what the whole point of life was today after my two unearned doughnuts. It is effecting my health, my physical look (which as it turns out matters more to me than I thought it would, as I've never really concerned myself with it before.) and most importantly, it's effecting how long I can play with my kids for before I go all grown-up on them and not play on the trampoline.
There is no direct solution here. I can here the call of Skittles from where I am. Bart Simpson once said of his father Homer that he could 'hear pudding'. Well I can sense what pudding is thinking. It's thinking that it needs me, like I need it. I know I don't need it, but I need it. It's not a nice feeling really. A little bit panicked and out of control and I don't like it that much at all.
I want to say that with support and with understanding, I'll get through this. I've always had support, it's not them heading out to the shop for some milk and coming back with three bags of Drumstick Squashies and a Toblerone. I'm not sure I can even understand it. I'll fight the fight of course. Things need to change. If can just stop reaching for the cake.