An Ode to Sugar (from an Addict)

I’ve long had a love affair with Almond Joy pieces. Every night we would climb into bed together and I would caress the blue bag, pulling them out one by one to nibble at the candy shell, hoping upon hope that when I finally bit into the luscious chocolate there would be an almond surprise in there waiting for me.

Before that it was Nerd Ropes. Our passionate tryst lasted a good couple of years and I would twirl them around my finger like rainbow locks of hair, gently pulling the big Nerds off the gummy and popping them into my mouth.

Once upon a time, I was even married to Rice Krispie treats. We lasted about ten years. Unfortunately, after so much time together, the relationship grew stagnant and we fell into a comfortable routine wherein I would no longer bother to shave my legs and the krispies would no longer conform to a pan or squares. They would show up as a blob on my dinner plate accompanied by a fork and just really let themselves go. We were quite the threesome when the utensil came along. Eventually I realized the dysfunction and we parted ways.

I’ve cried over a good strawberry rhubarb pie.

Lemon bars have broken my heart wide open.

Warm brownies topped with vanilla ice cream have done me in. Over and over again.

As a kid I was less discerning about who I cavorted with. There was Hubba Bubba, Big Hunk, Snickers, Pop Rocks (though, admittedly, he was a bit old for me), Baby Ruth (he was too young), Mike and Ike (I was too young), Watchamacallit… Ah, lovers all. The only two I couldn’t hang with were Peeps and Candy Corn. We just couldn’t get along no matter how much I tried.

Like any decent addict I wasn’t always in integrity when it came to my relationship with sugar either. One summer, when I was about ten, my seventy-five year old Grandmother came to stay. I was in dire need of a sugar fix, but my mom didn’t keep much on hand in the house. I cried to my Grandma that I had a project due at school – a mammoth sculpture comprised of colored miniature marshmallows and toothpicks – but my parents wouldn’t get me what I needed. She looked into my tear stained face and agreed to walk the two miles with me to the store and purchase my goods. That night in bed, I stared at my masterpiece composed of about twelve mini marshmallows and saw the empty bag lying next to it and clutched at my heaving stomach. Then I prayed to God for forgiveness for my lies in the name of my addiction. Okay, in reality, I probably just said, “I’m sorry, God” and uttered about half a Hail Mary.

I’m forty-three now and not much has changed (aside from the integrity piece now that I have my own money to get my fix.) When I walk into the grocery store during any holiday I head straight for the middle two aisles. It’s like opening the door to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The colors are so bright, the lighting so optimized, and there are shiny tinfoil chocolates for every season… and Valentine’s hearts and Cadbury eggs and jellybeans and Christmastime… Forget about it.

On January 10th, due to some pretty severe health issues, I cut out the sugar.


I’m in mourning.

Coupled with fits of denial.

What about Stevia? What about pure maple syrup? What about coconut palm sugar? What about certified organic pure maple sugar?


What about a bullet to my nucleus accumbens, then? (I mean, I no longer really need that part of my brain associated with reward now, right?)

Now I eat bananas every. single. day. A staple that was never before included in my diet because I hate the texture. Mush anyone? In my previous life the only use I had for banana was as a flavor in my Runts candy conveniently shaped just like a banana and oh-so-delicious. Now this, um… soft fruit has  become my saving grace. My savior. My best friend. I blend it up in shakes and I mash it up with coconut oil, pure vanilla extract and cinnamon and pour it over baked apples for a mock apple pie.

And still I mourn.

Valentine’s Day is approaching. Those candy hearts taunt me in their bright red bags with their sweet sayings stamped into succulent sugar.

As for my health issues and this new anti-inflammatory diet, I’ll be writing about that another time when I’m over the withdrawals and have shed my black veil.

I’d love to hear about your relationship to sugar. And… any tips you might have for my cravings would be oh-so-welcome.

Melanie Bates