I just finished up a bar of Bakers chocolate that I've been working on for the past few days. Bakers chocolate, as you may remember from an unfortunate attempt to sneak sweets that occurred sometime during your childhood, carries no sugar. On its own its a little bitter. But smothered in honey it's eminently palatable.
I'm doing a kind of a sugar fast right now. It's a little like a bar of Bakers chocolate smothered in honey. A little sneaky. A little bitter.
Here's some background.
At times in my life I've been extremely restrictive in my eating. I received medical treatment for this a long time ago, back in the beautiful dark 90s when everyone was so emotional and raw, us punk generation of teenagers with NEEDS. Though I haven't had any medical problems in my adulthood, I get that not eating is sometimes less stressful than eating. I still have moments when for some unknown reason I'm paralyzed with fear over everything I put in my mouth. It's rather unhinging to experience, but a great way to lose 40 pounds of baby weight fast!
Most restrictive behaviors are socially acceptable, since everyone's trying to lose weight all the time. It's when my behaviors get a little odd that I start to look around me, embarrassed. You don't have to be crazy to be on a diet. You do have to be crazy to take one bite of a bagel and spit it back into your hand because you paniked mid-chew.
But if I speak of my restrictive tendencies I speak of my higher self. Anorexia is a disease of angels, and I am not one. More often I am fighting an uglier force, a sinister monster that lurks underneath my tastebuds and silently tells me to EAT EVERYTHING.
I made a vow to my younger self that I would never again vomit recreationally. It's hard to vow not to eat, though, so when things go poorly in my life, when I feel like minor stresses carry the weight of major ones or I when don't get enough sleep, I become a straight up binge eater. There is nothing pure or pretty or Catherine of Siena about eating past the point you feel ill. I know on some level this is a disease we all share, a mass condition infecting America. But in another way, a more truthful way, I think this is a desease I have alone. All by myself, in the isolation of my kitchen, this is me struggling against eternity and my complete loss of control over it.
I could do due dilligence and write down a list of trigger foods. I wish it were only chocolate chip cookies and then the solution could be simple. Unfortunately I seem able to freak out over almost anything in my kitchen. Here, for example, are some things I have eaten to excess in the past few months:
- Bread and butter
- bran cereal
- rice cakes
- rice (and anything I make for dinner that goes on rice)
- whole wheat tortillas
- Any manner of baked good. seriously.
I say to myself "this has got to stop." I can't be running 16 miles every Saturday just to maintain my bread and butter habit. So I cringe and ask myself what these foods have in common, it's obvious that they are all high on the glycemic index. Even if I'm not eating sugar. I'm drawn to foods that quickly metabolize into sugar.
So I said, okay, let's do a sugar fast. Let's stay away from grains too, if I can. Let's see if I can push the reset button on my internal appetite.
Over the past ten days I did just that. I stopped all sugar. (okay, except the honey.) I limited myself to one real piece of bread a day, and nixed anything that came from a package. Did it work? Well, I didn't eat anything that immediately made me regret that vomiting vow. But I didn't feel a wave of heath and sanity wash over my life either. And I went through three tubs of almond butter in a week. Even just financially speaking that's not sustainable.
Plus I don't digest nuts super well. Thus bread made out of almond butter is not so much bread, as it is a recipe for a stomach ache. Then again, a piece of almond bread isn't binging, whereas three pieces of toast might be. Which is worse: moral or physical discomfort?
In the end, it's the cycle of wanting food and then fulfilling that desire that really turns my stomach. The thing that makes me human - that's what I can't stand. I don't mind having a body when I can push it to superhuman accomplishments - long runs and ten minute births and pumping breastmilk while blogging like some kind of cyborg cow. It's the bald face of my need that scares me. The thought that beneath my mature veneer I am terrifyingly animalistic. Desirous. So incredibly HUNGRY.
It would be nice if a diet could solve all this. I assume cavemen didn't experience existential crises. But I could be underestimating them.