On a typical night, I consume a half-gallon of chocolate ice cream, a frozen box of Entenmann’s chocolate donuts and eight Hershey’s bars or a bag of dark chocolate kisses. I do this while I’m exercising to a Billy Blanks’ kickboxing videos on YouTube. During the day, it’s a couple of Boston cream donuts from the local deli or some Ring Dings from the supermarket.
I never let anyone see me eat this much because I do feel guilt. I know I’m ruining my body. Besides the inherited threat of diabetes and becoming overweight, I now have to worry about how all this chocolate affects the Parkinson’s disease I was recently diagnosed with. The chocolate makes me shake even more. But do I stop eating the stuff? No, because I figure that if no one sees me being destructive then I still have some invincibility when it comes to my health.
I don’t like to let on what I do when I’m alone. It’s like someone throwing up in private, except I keep the chocolate down in my belly. I am a vegetarian and I still try to fit in at least six servings of fruit and vegetables a day. But my 5’0”, small-boned body is ballooning from a size 2 to a size 8. I’m a divorced woman living in a small town in upstate New York, far from the man who is most important to me — my adult son. So I reach for a Haagen Dazs bar instead of being able to see him as often as I’d like. He works long hours and I have a cheaper rent where I am, so I stay here. I’ve always been this way, substituting chocolate for the men lacking in my life. As a child I’d eat the Bartons box of chocolates meant for my grandmother when I felt that my father gave more attention to my sister than to me.
Trying to Quit
I know I should be eating healthier, but I just can’t help it. I’ve tried to quit the chocolate habit. One time I did throw the chocolate away. Many years ago, after breast surgery that found atypical hyperplasia, the doctor implored me to stop eating so much chocolate. “Your breasts are too dense,” he said. “We want to be able to see beyond any possible benign cysts.” And so, out of dreaded fear that I would inherit the family disease, I did quit, for nine months. It didn’t feel good or bad, just empty. And then a man offered me a piece of chocolate — not a kiss, not a dinner date, not a piece of jewelry, but a Snickers bar — and I gave in to the habit once more. When I hear someone complain that he needs a candy bar every week or he can’t function, I laugh, thinking to myself, A candy bar a week; that’s child’s play.
My first job out of high school was working for Godiva on Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan. We were allowed to eat all the broken chocolate, so my coworkers and I would break chocolate all day. During my lunch break, I’d go test other shops’ chocolates. I always said I was not concerned with drinking too much alcohol or smoking cigarettes; I had my chocolate. So I felt I was safe from “destructive” addictions, like heroin or being a sex addict. But now I find my desire for chocolate is more important than my health and I might have been better off being a sex addict with a bottle of wine by my side. Some doctors have suggested that I lack enough magnesium in my body — that this is why I crave chocolate so much. So every morning I pop magnesium pills before I head out to restock chocolate for the night that comes too soon.