On Sugar (or, On Not Eating Sugar)
Thursday, March 16, 2017
I confess: I have a sugar problem.
(Along with roughly, what, 92% of the world, yes?)
I love to bake. Not just because I like to eat desserts, but I enjoy the baking process. The transformation of butter and sugar into that pale, beaten yellow texture. The smell of fresh lemon zest, vanilla, almond. The almost-crisp sound a measuring cup makes when you squish it into the cocoa container. The soft rush of chocolate melting; the crack of an egg into a bowl, the ting of the whisk against a glass bowl.
At almost every family party I go to, I bring the dessert. (I hope my little great nieces and nephews remember that, that Aunt Amy always brought a good dessert. Someone can say that at my funeral. In, oh, forty years or so.)
Sometimes friends even call me to ask for baking advice. Sometimes my sister asks me to bake a cake for her kid’s birthday party, and I am just fine with that.
But it’s not only the baking; I love sugar. I’ve grown more particular over the years: I like dark, dark chocolate and I like caramel that is not too sweet. I don’t love ice cream and I can skip cheesecake, but a good chocolate chip cookie, when it’s the exactly-right soft-crisp texture and has chunky chocolate and just enough salt and a buttery flavor: that is heaven to me.
Some of my best memories have dessert in them: coconut cake in Lake Powell, my mother’s caramels on Christmas break, the plate of sugar cookies a friend brought to me after I had Kaleb which were, in my nursing-starving state, the most delicious cookies I have ever eaten. Easter is synonymous with chocolate, isn’t it? Halloween is for candy. Fourth of July? It tastes like saltwater taffy thrown from the parade floats, warm and sticky and stringy.
Everything has sugar in it.
As I’ve struggled with my depression this winter (which I am beginning to think of as the Jadis Winter: always winter but never Christmas, even though there was a Christmas), I have reached, over and over, for sugar. Sugar like it was a torch in the darkness, sugar like it was a life raft I would drown without. Sugar like it could save me.
Of course, when you’re in a state where all happiness is found in sugar, it’s not a good place. My jeans are reminding me that I need to lay off a bit.
So, on Sunday night just before midnight, Nathan brought me a donut (strawberry glazed, from Krispy Kreme) from a party he’d been to. Kendell couldn’t believe I’d eat a donut and go to bed, but I did, as it was my last little bit of sugar for awhile.
Or, hopefully it will be.
I had a little slide on Monday, when I was running errands with Kendell after we’d exercised, and he was hangry so I got out a granola bar from my granola-bar stash (everyone has one of htose in the cubby of their minivan, right?) and I took a bite before handing it to him. But as it was a Kind bar that’s mostly nuts, and it was only one bite, I’m not counting it. (It does illustrate, though, how pervasive sugar is. It’s not just a craving and a desire, but a thing that’s ingrained in my way of doing almost everything.)
But otherwise I’ve been dessert and treat free.
I’m trying to see if I can make it till Easter before I eat anything sweet again. I’ve gathered up all of my chocolate stashes and put it all in the basement storage room, in a ziplock bag behind the snowman decorations. I know where it is…but just not having it where I can habitually reach for it will hopefully help.
If I am honest I will confess: I don’t want to live my entire life without sugar. I still want to bake and to be the Dessert Aunt. But I also know I need better coping strategies than clinging to chocolate as if it were my only rope.
As of this writing I’m about 87 hours without desserts or treats or snacks.
I can do this, right?
I can do this.
(For a while!)