Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dreaming of Sugar

Last night I dreamed about Anthony Bourdain. It's not what you think. A few days earlier, I had reluctantly* finished reading his book Kitchen Confidential (#5 in my 50 book pledge) and had been thinking about him ever since. But once again, its not what you think...mostly.

It's not that I want to be with Anthony Bourdain. It's more that I want to be Anthony Bourdain. I want to be able to travel like him, to write like him, to eat like him, to have the passion and courage to live my life the way he does.

Back to the dream. Like I said before, its not what you think. I dreamed that for some reason, I was in his backyard and he was grilling steaks and I was talking to him about food and he was giving me some strongly-worded opinions about my recent lackluster passion towards food.

It was such a vivid dream that when it woke me up at 2am, I remember thinking about it for a while and willing myself to remember every word of the advice he was giving me so that I could write it down in the morning.** And then I went back to sleep. But when I woke upand tried to write it down a few hours later, I found that I remembered little more than what  I've already told you.

So now what am I supposed to do?

I guess I'll just have to rely on the other amazing book I just finished reading for my next, next epiphany about how to live my life from this day on.***


Nic Sheff's We All Fall Down had been sitting, unread, on my bookshelf for almost two years. I
bought it after reading his dad's (David Sheff')book, Beautiful Boy, about his experience as the father of an addict. It truly was one of the most moving and enlightening books I'd ever read. As soon as  I finished it, I made my mom read it and recommended it to about a million people. I also couldn't wait to find out what Nic (the addicted son) had to say about all this and how he was doing.

So I bought his book and looked him up on line**** and found out he's doing great and that his book got awesome reviews. And then I sat down to read his book. But for some reason, I couldn't bring myself to open it up. I just wasn't ready to find out what really goes on inside the mind of an addict. I was scared.

I'm not really sure why. I mean, I know that knowledge and education are the cornerstones of solving life's biggest problems, but for some reason, at that moment, I really just wanted to stay ignorant for a little while longer.

Now I know better.

Last week, I built up the courage (and yes, it took courage) to finally read Nic Sheff's book. I felt that it was time to face my fears and educate myself, telling myself that whatever I found out could only be a good thing.

It was a good thing. A very good thing. I read his book in two days...it only took that long because I had to work and feed my kids and sleep and stuff. Nic Sheff is a brave, honest, passionate, sensitive person who also happens to be a kick-ass writer. Who also happens to suffer from mental illness and addiction. I learned a lot about what it means to be an addict. I learned why addicts do what they do and why they think what they think. I learned that I'd been wrong about some stuff and right about others.

I learned that despite what I might've originally thought, I can identify more with Nic Sheff that I can with his Dad. That's probably what surprised me the most.

Unlike Nic, I don't take drugs and I don't drink and I don't suffer from Bipolar disorder. But like Nic, I don't always understand how the contentment and happiness that others feel is so effortless. Like Nic,I try to please others so much that it ends up biting me in the ass. Like Nic, I can appreciate what I've got and understand what needs to be done when looking at life from a distance, but up close? I just get overwhelmed and fall down.

And like Nic did, I am going to try and make some changes in my life...which serendipitously  completely intertwines with my dream about Anthony Bourdain. I couldn't remember the advice that Bourdain I had given me about more mindful eating, so I decided to try some new advice, this one based on what I learned in Nic's book.

A little while ago, I read this article that claimed that sugar is more addictive than crack. I won't get into the specifics here, but feel free to read the article if you want more details. What I will get into is that when Nic was describing how he hid bottles of booze around the house, it reminded me of my chocolate stashes. And when he talked about how he couldn't stop himself from buying booze, it reminded me of how I just couldn't resist buying a whole whack of Wunderbars that were on sale. And finally, when he told himself that he just doesn't feel whole without drugs or booze, it reminded me of how I just don't feel full-no matter how much healthy food I eat- until I eat something sweet and doughy.

I'm pretty sure I'm about as addicted to sugar as Nic was to drugs.

And I'm going to try to break that addiction. But not because it's ruining my life but because I want to really understand what it's like to try not to be an addict. To try to make the right choice when all you really, really want is to make the choice that you know is wrong but that tastes so good.


From this day on, for the next month, I am going to try my best to break my sugar addiction. No more chocolate bars, doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies, or any other sugar-coated, refined and frosted treats.

Can you help me out?

*I saw reluctantly because I didn't want it to end, not because I was reluctant to read it.
**I suppose if I were a more dedicated writer, I would've gotten up and written it down right then and there.
***I do that a lot, in case you haven't noticed.
****My favorite thing about reading non-fiction; the sequel is almost always instantaneous.

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