Sugar Addicts Anonymous

[Takes a symbolic 12 steps to the podium.]

Hello. My name is Sam, and I’m a sugar addict.

[Pauses for “Hello Sam.” The sympathy in the air is palpable.]

It started when I was a child. Candy bars bought with paper route money. My grandmother’s peanut butter cookies. Easter baskets with chocolate eggs as god intended. The dark bounty of Hallowe’en. Coke or Pepsi (depending what’s on sale) guzzled at all family functions and regularly in between.

oldpepsi
Pepsi sadly couldn’t teach the world to sing

You wouldn’t know it to look at me. Always running around or riding my bike, I sweat it off as fast as I can suck it in. But true addiction is born.

scarface
Sugarface

Fast forward to early adulthood
Still eating crap, still mostly getting away with it. I’m in deep.

bassetts
Words would be superfluous here

Later…
My wife gets a job at an ice cream shop in Brooklyn. Needless to say it comes with fringe benefits. Chocolate dipped sundries. A gummy menagerie. Ice cream by the pint. Bassetts butterscotch, OMG. By conservative estimate I gain 35lbs. I could blame my metabolism, but really, who’s kidding who.

weighstation
Scale says what?!?

It’s a mad mad mad mad world
We move to the UK. Not long after arriving I decide to go vegetarian (thanks mad cow disease) then vegan, also cutting out refined sugar, if not sugar substitutes (hello agave syrup). The weight falls off… then over the years, creeps back up again, though not as much as the Bassetts era. I take up bicycling in a big way, which helps. From time to time I binge. I’m never again clinically obese, but I am clinically annoyed with myself.

stop
OK you made your point

Three months ago
After one big sigh too many I completely stop eating foods with added sugar. I’m not obsessive about it?—?things like ketchup are allowed on the table?—?but anything that can be unambiguously labelled a dessert is verboten.

The first few days are headache-ridden. I rough it out. Soon I settle into a routine. This involves savouring everything I still allow myself, which is plenty, and not giving in to psychological hunger for empty calories. As long as I’m at it I cut out snacks and keep a food diary, giving myself a reasonable caloric allowance for my activity level.

fudgelove
Fudge loves you too

It’s not really that hard. It helps that I often tell myself it isn’t forever; one day I will have fudge again. It’s just that today, then today, then today again, is not that day.

My pants (after 20 years in this country I still can’t quite bring myself to call them trousers) loosen their grip around my waist. No wonder, a stone and the better part of another stone has disappeared, who knows where. I’m no whippet, but I’m fighting trim. It feels good to be here again. Whenever my resolve weakens I hike up my pants and think, well, not today.

I’ll always be a sugar addict.

Thank you for listening.

[Sits down without a glance at the table of biscuits and root beer. They don’t go together anyway.]

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