I have a confession to make. A serious one.
It wasn’t until just recently that I finally admitted to myself that I have an addiction to sweets. It hasn’t gotten to the point where sweets have taken over my life, but it’s definitely more serious than just calling it a sweet tooth. As with any addiction, whether it be coffee, alcohol, gambling, exercise, tobacco, I have been using sugar as a way to cope. If I had something to celebrate, I’d do so with a special treat from a local bakery like a rich slice of cake or a parfait. Bad day? Wash it away with a pack of Oreos. Stressed? Maybe a cream puff will help. Sunny day? Ice cream sounds good. My cravings were so strong that I was literally eating snacks with every meal or even as a substitute meal on the go. Especially on weekends when I was traveling, I’d stop at a convenience store to buy chocolate cookies and milk tea for breakfast because few restaurants were open at such an early hour.
I fell further down the rabbit hole than I had realized.
If I’m being honest I didn’t try very hard to kick this habit. For a long time, my thought process went something like this…
- Wake up with the intention of not eating sweets
- Buy sweets and justify eating them
- Eat sweets
- Post-consumption guilt
- Tell myself to try again tomorrow
At the supermarket, I’d walk down the candy aisle and say to myself “DON’T YOU DARE!” and walk away only to circle right back around before going through the register. It was like I was a little kid trying to sneak candy into the basket without my parents noticing. I tried writing a vow and saying it to myself every morning only to break that vow later in the afternoon. I tried tackling cravings through therapy. I tried telling myself that I was going to die of cancer, get fat, or that my teeth would rot. I tried reading articles and watching documentaries about alarming obesity rates or harmful effects of too much sugar, but nothing scared me. Even if the snacks didn’t taste good, I’d still eat them because I spent the money on it. The devil on my shoulder’s voice always won.
I tried to justify buying and eating sweets by saying things to myself like…
- “It’s okay I just won’t eat any sweets tomorrow.”
- “I’ll exercise extra hard over the weekend to compensate.”
- “I need to try this so I can write about it on my blog.”
- “I deserve it.”
- “It’s the weekend.”
Every night when I would lay down to go to sleep, I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, and it would make me cry because I felt like my heart was asking why I wasn’t taking care of it. I was tired, frustrated, and I couldn’t figure out why I was unable to stop.
As they say, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Like I mentioned at the beginning, recently, I admitted to myself out loud that I do in fact have a sugar addiction. And well, have you ever had the sensation where it feels like something inside of you snaps? Like a switch goes off? That’s what happened. I woke up one morning, and I felt like the switch went off. The angel on my shoulder had come forward and said, “Okay, now it’s my turn to take over. Kimi, you’ll soon be heading into your thirties. You’re becoming more of an adult now so why don’t you GROW UP, learn to take better care of yourself, and start by cutting the damn sweets.” My body was finally fed up with how I was treating it.
Where to go from here?
Of course, I’m not “cured” of this addiction. It’s something I work on every day. Also, this isn’t to say I won’t give in every once in a while, but I know my limits now. I know better now, my inner monologue is much kinder, and I’m slowly regaining will power. I have a good head on my shoulders, but it still takes great effort to consistently realign myself to the healthier path I want to be on.
I’ve sort of gone the cold turkey route, but I’ve substituted junk food for more fruits, peanut butter toast, some fiber cereals, and granola. On top of that, I’m drinking more water and tea instead of flavored soymilk or lattes. I’m retraining my body to eat healthier, and as a result, I don’t feel bloated and my acne is (very) slowly healing up.
Now, when I walk down the candy aisle, I don’t feel as tempted to buy anything sweet. Again, this is something that takes work, but the angel on my shoulder’s voice is finally winning. I look around at all the snacks on the shelves, and I can’t believe how much actual crap these snacks are. It’s just filler. What’s more, I can’t believe up until now I’ve been filling my body with so much food that doesn’t support it.
What does this have to do with travel? Well, a sugar addiction may not be directly related, but because food is such a significant part of why I travel, I felt this was important to address. My diet goes to hell when I travel simply because there are so many foods and restaurants I want to try, not all of them with my health and well-being in my mind. It’s fun to be adventurous in trying new foods, but this is definitely my wake up call to be more conscious of what I’m eating.
I will be traveling a lot over the summer. It will be good practice for me to balance myself with a proper diet on the road without skimping out on some really great foodie finds (including desserts) for you to try on your future trip(s) to Japan.