By Brandi Yates
Pretending I had a big Skype conference call with everyone I love: “Hi, everyone. It’s me, Brandi.” The next part is said with humility and remorse. “I’m an addict. And I need help.”
A hush goes down. My parents hold their breath. Mom looks like she is being strangled and Dad is waiting for the punchline. My brother looks disappointed. My sister smug. My friends, the ones that think they know every intimate detail about me, are confused.
“I am addicted to sugar.” Dads laughs; mom cries from relief. My brother and sister are no longer interested. My friends roll their eyes.
Every one just thinks loudly, no such thing. Like vampires and werewolves. Because while comfy rehab exist for everyone else with substance abuse problems, sugar is just food. And it comprises about 95 percent of my food. (The remaining five is diet pop. Which is my second drug of choice.)
Those with food issues go on diets or The Biggest Loser. But I’m a small, normal and healthy looking woman of 125 lbs. I run and do yoga. Many say, “What’s the problem?”
I’m not complaining about the sneaky sugar found in salad dressing or how the white carbs in bread or rice that will turn to sugar in our systems. I’m talking about C-A-N-D-Y. I can’t stay away from it. Bags of jelly beans, licorice, M&M’s, Skittles, Starbursts, gummy anything, sour stuff, and sugar coated sugar all disappear inside me; it doesn’t matter. I will consume it by the bucket load. Bypassing fruit, veggies, and protein days at a time. This isn’t an exaggeration. When in the absolute grips of it, I’ll buy an 1800 calorie bag thinking I’ll dole it out over a week, then eat it in less than three days. Then I’ll buy another 1800 and consume it in 36 hours. Then another, and it will be gone in half a day. All the while, my blood moves slower. My cheeks become swollen. My skin itchy and pimply. On the last day, around mid day, after consuming some 5400 calories of sugar in five days — enough to fuel two marathons — I’ll fall into a carb coma. I’ll re-emerge at sunset ready for more. Making me like unto undead, because that is no way to live. Sometimes it isn’t so bad. Sometimes I’m just nicking it here and there so my intake isn’t more than 500 calories a day. But it is still every single day that I need sugar.
So change, right? Just “do it” as President Kimball would say. Throw the candy out and don’t buy more. Be like President Young who carried a tobacco pipe in his pocket and when he felt the urge he’d take it out and say: who is stronger you or me? Go cold turkey. Eat cold turkey even. Just don’t eat sugar.
But it is just food, and what is so wrong with a little candy? We make it for every season and all occasions. Every color and every flavor. We give this stuff to kids, freely, for rewards and affection. What is the big deal?
I’ll tell you what: I’m ruining my second estate. I can’t control my body. In two separate and important ways, I’m failing myself and God.
First, my health is compromised. Read 146 reasons sugar (glucose) is ruining my good health. Every single symptom is something I don’t want. I’m giving my pancreas an early death. I’m forcing my skin to age faster. My liver is backed up. My circulation poor.
Secondly, more importantly, I find it very anti-LDS. I should be in control of my body, not the other way around. 147th reason to hate sugar: it is robbing me of being me. I feel powerless and hopeless and fearful of tomorrow when I get up and all I will think about is sugar until I get some. Inwardly, my soul cries as my body greedily eats up the candy.
Although I ought to know better, I’m not doing better. This is what the real spiritual problem is. I don’t need God to tell me this addiction is something I don’t want. Occasionally we get articles in the Ensign and talks in church about healthy living and food choices. But sugar isn’t going to keep me from renewing my covenants. When it comes to addiction, porn is the hot topic. Guess what? Not my problem. This is my problem. Believe me, I take it seriously.
By now, my brother has turned on the Xbox, my friends have turned off the Skype, and my parents are just humoring me. They say, “What do you want us to do about it? ”
Every week I make a commitment to stop. Sometimes every day and every hour I promise to stop. Sometimes I last as long as three days without candy. But it strikes again. I buckle and before long I feel what every other junkie feels: constant failure.
I want to honor my body and treat it like a temple. I don’t do anything that breaks the Word of Wisdom. I mean, technically. Yet, I still do this. I’m on it even now. My last hit of jelly beans was four hours ago. Sugar is even fueling this pathetic cry for help. I know the only one that can help me is me.
While my friends and family don’t seem to believe me — and maybe many of you may not either — I am an addict. And as an addict, I’m dependent on my “relationship” with sugar to sustain me, find happiness, bolster my confidence, or just give me peace. Things I should seek from God. (Then again, God gave us sugar.) But prayer doesn’t have a bad side. I may not be like a heroin addict with the threat of jail. Nor an alcoholic, because I can (ab)use it at work. Nor is this like prescription meds as I can operate a car on sugar. I still feel it is something I need to quit and never come back to.
I was hoping that at my Skype gathering, I could declare my goal of no sugar for three weeks, because 21 days sets a habit. However, it seems that no one cares to hear the confessions of a sugar addict. It isn’t one of the big 10 commandments. I’m not fat and I don’t have diabetes. I’m just weak.