Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Surviving the Holidays

Sugar addiction and the holidays are a terrible mix.  Not only are there extra sweets about there is also something much more enticing: memory.  I'm sure each person who grew up in a Christian home has fond memories of helping a grandma or mom in the kitchen.  Sometimes there is more to sweets than just the taste.  I have many happy memories of my grandmother making all kinds of delicious candy from divinity to fudge but what comes to mind more than eating the candy is the act of making it together.  Nothing beats that feeling of being with a loved one.  I knew I was completely loved by grandma and felt very  warm and safe and candy just happened to be there too.  There is also a feeling of excitement at being able to visit with family that are usually far away and renew friendships.  That is always associated with good food and sweets.

It's a tough choice in a way.  I know how sugar makes me feel (like I've been poisoned).  But I also want to take part in all the festivities and not be a sugar scrooge.  But I also know that an addiction is ever present and anxious to be reignited. 

When Corey and I decided to take responsibility for our sugar eating problems we also recognized the danger of zealousness.  After much discussion we came to an agreement that we would have 1 allowance per month per person, so a total of 2 allowances for a sweet per month.  We both wanted to be part of other family members birthdays and certain holiday celebrations and traditions.  So far this has been perfect for us.  It has eliminated the feeling of "can't ever have any" and replaced it with "can have, but don't need right now."  It eliminated the danger of all or nothing behavior.  

This attitude has been instrumental in disallowing sugar to rule our lives.  Why?  Because if we have more than what we are supposed to in a moth, we loose a predetermined reward.  But also because when an 'all or nothing' belief is in place there is no room for failure and when failure happens (and it always does) the belief inhibits rebound.  You know, makes it harder to try again, to do better next time. 

In a previous post, Sarah asked the question "is it ever ok?  is there any moderation to (the no) sugar thing?"  My feeling is that there has to be.  I would really like to hear Laura's take and anyone else as well.  I have never succeeded at anything that I got zealous about.  Excelled for a time, yes.  But succeeded, no.  I always succeed when I stride myself and work realistically toward something.  But you know, it's taken me 30 years to get to the point that I finally recognize how to go about this lifestyle practically.  It's a delicate balance right now.  But balance is the key.

So ultimately I think that "is it ever ok" is a personal discovery and the answer to the equation is tailor made to the individual. For me it is not ok to eat sweets more than 2 times a month or I can't control my desire for sweets very well.  The realistic limitations are actually welcome safety nets that have kept me from suffering many times.  Would I tell an alcoholic to go drink twice a month to pad his loss of alcohol?  No way.  With some addictions and some people it just doesn't work that way.  I'm always disappointed after eating a sweet.  It is never fulfilling. And truthfully sweets are loosing their charm and appeal.  Hurray for me.  But that strange problem of wanting to consume all sweets everywhere is still there, and may always be there and is especially heavy the day after an allowance.

This isn't an end all decision but rather a lifelong travel of finding inner strength and learning how to take care of myself.  All while striving to achieve balance against the adversity of an addiction.  Because balance and addiction don't compliment each other.  But I'm proud of myself for trying and I'm doing well at what I set out to accomplish and there is a lot to be said for that.