Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. In the past few months, I have eaten more family-size ‘treat’ bags of crappy Cadbury’s Buttons than about six families of four put together. And before this current Buttons phase, I went through five solid months of consuming Cadbury’s Mini Eggs like Pacman eats Pac-dots.
That would be how my confession would go if I were a Catholic. But since I’m not, here I am confessing into the ether. And then I’m going to share this post on Facebook. Which, if you ask me, is much more hardcore than revealing one’s darkest secret to a man of the cloth in a broom cupboard.
Essentially, I’m here to admit that the following film clip from Chocolat is the screen representation of a struggle I deal with on an almost daily basis.
Obviously, I don’t do it in a shop window. My mindless troughing of shameful swathes of chocolate, followed by the inevitable two-hour carb coma on the sofa, all happens behind closed doors. It’s top secret. Well, it was. Until now.
What I have, of course, is a binge-eating disorder. I suspected that’s what it was, but I had it confirmed once and for all by a Radio 4 programme the other day, which informed me that there should be some local experts who can help me. I Googled. Then I read the spiel on several health-service and private clinics’ websites and rolled my eyes. Want to know what the help involves? Telling people to eat more veg and go on a mindfulness course.
I’m not saying that’s bad advice. But it doesn’t bloody work. I’m living proof you can eat your greens and meditate and still be an out-of-control sugaholic. If you come round my gaff and look in my fridge, you’ll see nowt much in there other than organic vegetables and eggs. And all that stuff isn’t just in there for show. I do eat healthily. In fact, I probably know more about the latest science in health and nutrition than most professionals. But, in my case, knowledge isn’t power. I have this insane duality going on. There’s a short-circuit in my brain. Something that overrides all this wisdom and turns me into Terminator 2. Admittedly Sharpy T2 is more molten cocoa butter than mimetic polyalloy, but I’m on a mission and no amount of logic will stop me from eating chocolate; chocolate in obscene amounts.
Needless to say, this is a habit I desperately want to eradicate from my life. And not just because I have a hate-hate relationship with the black Primani leggings I’ve been reduced to wearing every day. But because I know I’m killing myself. I know that overconsumption of sugar is at the root of practically every disease known to man. Yet down the red hatch the sweet stuff goes!
I daresay there are lots of people who’d read this and be disgusted at my gluttony. Believe me, there’s no one more ashamed than I. But one thing I’ve come to realise is that it makes no difference whether you’re doing too many pies or too many protein shakes, we all have an addiction of some ilk. It’s just that some people’s addictions are more socially acceptable than others.
In effect, there’s not much difference between me and the old drunk I saw lying sparked out on the grass opposite the parish church today. There’s not much difference between me and the dude with the prosthetic leg who lives downstairs. I’ve seen him begging up in town. And I’ve seen him passing cash through a car window in exchange for a very small package. But it’s not really so very different from me putting my shoes and coat on and going on a late-night ‘drug-run’ to the Co-op, is it?
The question I’ve been asking myself over and over is why the hell am I doing it? Why won’t I take my finger off the self-destruct button? Why do I continue to self-medicate with toxic pseudo-food? I’ve nothing to be unhappy about. There’s no good reason for it.
Except maybe there is. I think I’ve worked out I’m just plum tired of this shitty short-sighted, profit-orientated world we’re living in. The constant drive to make money makes humans lose their moral and spiritual compass. It results in abusive behaviour, whether towards oneself, to others or the planet. It’s got to the stage where I really just want to check out altogether. Stop the bus. Get off. It’s even crossed my mind as I’ve climbed into bed at night that I wouldn’t be particularly fazed if I were to go to sleep and not wake up the following morning. That doesn’t mean I’m suicidal. It just means I really need to find something more meaningful to do with the rest of my life.
In the meantime, I’m carrying on with my quest to conquer this demonic sugar addiction. To that end, I’m reading a book called Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays. She’s a Buddhist monk. And she has much wisdom to share about how we in the West fear the feeling of emptiness. I reckon it’s definitely time for me to have a crack at being cool with being empty.