I wrote “The Precariousness of a Donut” a few months after getting serious about my new healthy living approach, which included avoiding my bingeables like desserts. I’d removed about 20 pounds and was still fairly new to my abstinence from sugar. My husband, two sons and I were on a car trip and stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts to use the bathroom. Maddeningly, it was the only available option. When I got back to the car, I discovered that my family had gotten donuts, and I felt instantly betrayed. It was a hard choice for me and I had already made it back to the car without buying any. But once they were eating them, I debated. Should I stay clean, or invite a binge by running back in and buying some more for me? I could see both outcomes laid out before me, but only one of them involved instant gratification. It would have been so much easier if they’d abstained too — especially since we were in the confines of the car and I was imagining what each bite tasted like. To me, the more they enjoyed them, the more I felt deprived and unaccepting of my own limitations. I went from hurt to angry. How could my husband indulge in my “drug of choice” so casually right in front of me? On that day, the waves of emotions stayed with me for hours, although sometimes they pass much more quickly.
The victory that day was that I didn’t have to have the donut, thus avoiding the landslide of overeating it would have triggered. And, surprisingly, the resulting feeling of reward at the end of the day was much more exciting than a sugar rush!
I’ve had to practice keeping my cool when I’m around people eating sugary treats or other foods I love that disagree with me, or that lead to overeating. I don’t think it’s fair to punish others by expecting them to change around me. I’m better at it now, but I often have to stand back mentally and remind myself why I’m doing this. The donut incident happened in early 2008, and by later that year, I was down 65 pounds. I am grateful every day for my more comfortable body and athletic lifestyle; I enjoy running, elliptical, strength training and yoga. Usually, I feel that I can trust myself with food, but sometimes it still feels like a huge conflict in my head about what choice I will make.
One way I learned to cope with the conflicting emotions that came from my abstinence is by writing poems. I’d overeaten for many reasons — from loneliness, frustration, celebration, tradition, boredom or impulse. When I stopped overeating there were a lot of emotions to process. When I write poems, I always come to a new and helpful realization.
Sometimes I still struggle (the beast is only sleeping) and make choices that are not smart for me. But I try to follow my mantra: “regroup, regroup, regroup.” One example is from another car trip just two months ago. Once again, I was with my husband and two sons. We were at a rest stop and I wanted a snack. My addictive mind was playing tricks on me. “Popcorn!” It screamed. “You want popcorn.” I found what I wanted and could already taste its artificial butter and chemicals when my son took the bag from me and pointed out that there were over 650 calories in the bag. “It’s two servings!” I told him. “Mom,” he said patiently, “you know you’re going to eat all of it.” As embarrassing as it was to have my son being the parent, it was like a splash of cold water. I pulled myself out of my food trance, got a beef stick and an apple and got back in the car. Sure enough, I was rewarded with that feeling of success that was so much more exciting than the zombie fog the binge food would have washed over me.
After thanking my son for helping me, I realized again how vital it is to stay mindful and prepared. The popcorn incident reminded me that I have an addiction — one that I’ve learned to take very seriously.
“The Precariousness of a Donut”
All potential aftershocks seem easy to deal with before indulging.
But trust me — the feelings of losing control, missing goals,
Feeling sick and craving more are never worth it.
So, when my husband bought donuts for the kids on a recent car trip, I was not amused.
Suddenly, his kind gesture felt like an uncaring slight to my precarious inner resolve.
And in that moment, I knew I could easily go either way.
Fortunately, on that day, my cravings were smaller than the donuts, and I was able to maintain my balance with only a glare.
When I regained my composure, I reminded myself that
while it is hard to fight a sugar craving,
and it’s even harder to fight a sugar addiction,
I have proven to myself in the trenches, that it is not impossible.
And there is something else I have learned —
That when I care for myself by saying no to sugar,
I am giving myself the sweetest gift of all.