Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Deal with Doughnuts

Dear Reader,

Ever since I can remember, my Madre has taken special care to ensure that my brothers and sisters and I grew up consuming as little sugar as possible. This meant that cake and ice cream were only for birthdays*, candy was only for holidays, and root beer was only for pizza**, and sugar cereals were a mythical substance too dangerous to be thought of. Because of the care which Madre took in her endeavor, it happened that my only experiences with doughnuts occurred in cases when a large amount of men (uncles, people from church, neighbors, etc.) had to come over to our house for an activity that chiefly concerned moving heavy objects.

At this very precious and impressionable stage, there also happened to be a family that lived down the street who had a very different philosophy when it came to sugary foods. For them, doughnuts were just part of their usual Saturday morning ritual, and I remember going to visit them and being amazed by the boxes of doughnuts on their tables every week. It was like I was suddenly in an entirely different world. We kept coming over, week after week, if only to watch the ritual that was so alien and intriguing. I can only imagine how they felt; trying to eat in peace while the kids down the street are treating them like an exhibit in the zoo. The circumstances, however, seemed to make this scenario unavoidable.

You might think, Gentle Reader, that when I moved out of the house and off to college, my previous sugar deprivation would turn me into some kind of junk-food-binge-beast. I splurged a bit, but I was able to keep things under control. And by that I mean that my diet consisted mostly of pepperoni Hot Pockets. Believe it or not, I actually lost weight my freshman year, despite the odds, and when I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment I developed a strategy that works fairly well: I never buy any junk food except for ice cream, and I always make sure that I have one container of ice cream handy at all times. Sometimes it will last me a week, sometimes it will last me a month, but the idea is that I have an outlet for my sugar cravings. When I crave something sweet, I remind myself that I have the power to buy it anytime I want and that it will always be there. Then, if the cravings persist, I indulge myself with as much ice cream as I need to be satisfied. The end result is that I spend less time and money on junk food and go on with my life. It works pretty well, for the most part.

This brilliant plan hit a snag, however, when I started working full time in a cafeteria over the summer. My nine-to-four schedule meant that I came in everyday right after the breakfast shift was ending, greeted by a couple trays of assorted doughnuts. The effect was somewhat disturbing. After I had supposedly conquered my cravings for sugar during childhood and re-conquered them after I moved out, I found that during these summer days I spent a lot of time thinking about and longing for those doughnuts. Since I could buy my meals there at a pretty good price, I got into the habit of eating lunch there everyday during my break, and as the summer progressed I became more and more concerned with making sure that the left over doughnuts made their way to my plate. Soon, it came to the point where I would have three or four a meal, and my behavior was getting notice from my co-workers. Soon my doughnut cravings became kind of a joke among my friends at work, nothing too serious, but enough that people started saving doughnuts for me. It all started to get really weird.

And that was when I realized that I had actually turned into that junk-food-binge-monster that I had avoided becoming way back during my freshman year. It's kind of strange that I waited four years to go on a sugar spree, and it's even more strange that I chose doughnuts as an outlet, but I suppose that it goes to show that we humans aren't in as much control as we think we are.

After the end of the summer, I found that my sugar-craving symptoms started to subside, and now I rarely think about those doughnuts when I see them, having realized that I don't actually find them as appetizing as I thought I did. Perhaps this means that my doughnuts cravings have finally be satisfied, or perhaps it means that I've got some more hurdles to go through until I have real control over my sweet tooth. Either way, I don't really want to see that junk-food-binge-monster ever again.

Regards, best wishes, and sweet days,

-Cecily Jane

*In these rare cases, my family experienced an equally rare phenomenon, as all birthday cake and ice cream always mysteriously vanished during the night. As children, we attributed it to some kind of Sugar-Monster, but in my later years I realized that this monster was actually Padre. Oh, the irony.

**And pizza, of course, was only for Madre-and-Padre-are-so-busy-that-they-can't-cook-dinner-style emergencies.


lina said...

Your post this week got me thinking. I remember when I was a kid we were the family who would have dessert every night. And I remember loving doughnuts. Then dad started working with the scouts doing fundraisers and we got these cards from krispy cream where you got a dozen free for every dozen you bought. So we ate krispy creams, like, A LOT! And for the first month or two I loved them. Now I can't even look at doughnuts without feeling ill. They just look greasy and nasty to me. The strange thing is I still eat candy or cookies pretty much every day. So the rest of the dessert every day thing stuck, but eating so many doughnuts for so long just made me hate them. But I think it's okay to eat a candy bar (they're just the funsized ones) or ice cream (as long as it's not a huge bowl full) every day so long as you're not doing the binge thing and eating too much.

Cecily Jane said...

I agree, Lina. The whole issue is control. It's important to eat healthy foods, of course, but I think that if you are denying yourself so much that you feel the need to binge, your diet isn't exactly healthy. Moderation in all things, you know?