I love sugar. On the list of things that make me happy, it’s pretty high up. I love breaking bits of big gooey cookies to dip into my tea, I love ice cream in a cone on a sunny day, I love sitting down in a coffee shop after a long day walking round a city and choosing the most decadent looking piece of cake. I have fond memories of baking as a child: helping my Mum make brownies or my Grandma make sponge cake, and being given the bowl to finish the leftover cake mix or icing.
And hell, I know I’m addicted. By 3pm I’m sat at my desk imagining the taste of chocolate on my tongue, and I venture downstairs to see what the canteen has to offer. On Monday, I tried a “Chocolate Nice Cream Wonka Bar”. Have you ever had one? It’s a wonderful combination of chocolate, sickly sweet vanilla cream, and gooey chocolate sauce, which left me feeling a little nauseous but in a wonderful satisfying way. It put a smile on my face for the rest of the afternoon.
For me, this is all worth the risk of diabetes, cancer or becoming overweight. I mean, I know how bad sugar is for you (who doesn’t?). I’ve read Sarah Wilson’s IQS blog for a while. Ever since someone first suggested my chronic headaches might be down to a sugar addiction. I know how sugar can be more addictive than coke, that it can lead to fatty liver disease, gout, diabetes, memory loss and, of course, obesity. All this is very interesting and makes complete sense on a rational level. But not on an emotional one. Did I mention I love sugar?
Okay, I might get less headaches if I crack my sugar addiction. But then again, I could also take painkillers. I might have more energy, but that’s what exercise and coffee are for.
I don’t want to encourage people to be irresponsible about their health, but I do think wellness is holistic. I eat a primarily vegetable based diet, I cycle at least 6 miles a day, run about 3 times a week, make as many yoga classes as I can. The happiness I gain from a cookie ice cream sandwich outweighs the damage sugar might do to my physical health. If you can and want to quit sugar then good for you. But when I tried I found that it was bad for my mental health. I know this sounds like an excuse. I also know that I’m prone to disordered eating, and cutting out a food group brought back a lot of the anxiety and guilt about food that I thought I’d left behind. I want to eat what I want and not feel bad about it, and if that means my physical health takes a little dip than that’s okay because I’m prioritising pleasure.
So I won’t be trying to cut down on my sugar intake, and I won’t be feeling bad when I’m sat in bed with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and a spoon. I’ll actually be feeling pretty smug, because some people don’t let themselves do this. But I do, and it tastes awesome.