Top | Views from the Carrot Condo
(post, Trista Cornelius)
I feel disgusting. I ate a piece of thickly frosted cake from Dovetail Bakery the size of an unabridged dictionary after a three-entrée dinner shared with my husband. It’s not yet March, so the cake is not verboten, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that I feel horrible—like a day’s worth of food is sitting in the top half of my stomach so over-packed it can’t be processed. I imagine this is what it feels like to have that surgery where your stomach is banded to the size of a walnut and you forget and go and eat an entire vegan club sandwich. It hurts. Plus, the sugar effect has me sweetly tired and I want to go to bed, but if I can’t lie down. I need gravity to help me keep this all inside. This is not the kind of mindful life I want. This is mindless. I literally turn off my mind and delight in an animalistic gorging of sugar and fat. When my husband suggests that I eat only half of the cake and save the rest, I freak out for two reasons. Most of the pleasure derives from the fact that I’m letting myself eat as much as I want for as long as I want, so half the cake ruins the eating experience. Then, I worry about having the cake sitting around for more days of indulgence. For example, when I was a junior or senior in college, someone gave me a giant heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t really eat candy then. Ice cream, yes, but not candy. It was like handing me drugs. I ate a piece of chocolate, so rich and sugary it stung my throat. Then, for the rest of the day, I skipped down the hallway from my room where I was studying to the dining room where the box sat on the table, picked up a piece, and munched it as I skipped back to my room. When more than half the box was gone, I rationalized that it was better to eat it all in one sitting and get it over with. Go back to normal life tomorrow. I figured there was no way my body could hang on to all that sugar and fat, so it would leave my system; whereas a few pieces a day for a few days would make me fat. Now, as I sit on the sofa and moan lamentations about my excessive indulgence, my husband says that maybe I restrict my diet too much and lead myself to this binging. He says maybe I should eat a little bit like this more often. I think of the Valentine’s chocolates and decide he’s wrong. However, I go to my calendar to see what my pattern has been. Just over a month ago, I started noting days when I ate a significant amount of chocolate. I’m fine with a square or two, but for some reason, since the end of December, I seem unable to eat less than half a large bar. When I looked at the calendar, I found that for two days I’d eaten a modest amount of chocolate (2-3 squares), but the next two days I’d eat half a bar, and the day after that I’d eat some chocolate and a decadent piece of vegan cake! I did this three times in six weeks. I know sugar is addictive. I know that some people will need more of it more often to achieve the effect they desire. I guess that’s what I need to figure out—what effect does this binging achieve for me? A mindless, sweet, emptiness. I just sit and zone out for a while after and feel good. Okay, but that doesn’t explain the overpowering desire to binge in the first place. It’s not like I’m thinking, “Oh, I’m stressed, I’ll eat a bunch of cake and feel better.” In fact, often, these binges occur in the evening after a relaxing day. Some of you know my story of quitting coffee (and all caffeine…except for what’s in these dark chocolate bars I’m munching.) I know coffee must stay out of my life just like a recovering alcoholic must keep liquor out of her life. I know one cup will send me back to a daily habit of guzzling gallons of the stuff. However, I don’t want to have to be so rigid with sweets. Like I wrote during last March’s sour month (read “this” and “this”), I want to be able to find a balance and not be overwhelmed by such intense cravings. As much pain as this cake caused, and as much as I want to say I’ll never do over-eat this way again, I know it’s not that easy. What causes intense cravings? How do you indulge modestly? How do you deny a craving?