I ate sugar today. I do every day. I eat too much of it. Sometimes I attempt to cut it out of my diet, not entirely, but noticeably. I’ll admit my body feels better for it.
Recently, in my “I will quit everything and live a pure life” stage, I even downloaded a copy of Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar e-book. Some of what she wrote resonated with me. Some of it did not. I admire someone who can commit fully to an ideology and a way of life. There’s something inspiring about not giving up. I give up all of the time and it’s something I’m working on. I also find her rigidity unnerving.
On a recent trip to Sydney, I was walking through the food court eating a Macca’s hamburger and drinking a Coke. As I stood there inhaling my sugar and fat-filled lunch I spied someone who looked familiar walking through the crowd towards me. It was Sarah Wilson. I immediately felt I should throw my hamburger behind me and hide the soft drink under my top. Shit. Shit. Shit. My conscience was walking towards me. A woman so vocal about the evils of sugar and processed food was strolling through the crowd. I actually thought the God of Sanctimonious Living would shoot me down in flames.
But instead of fleeing in shame, my inner rebel took over and as she walked past I slurped my drink and munched my burger in defiance. I know I was poisoning myself with toxins, but it did make me giggle. And man, that burger tasted much better than it actually was.
So, it was with much interest I read Sarah’s latest post about how she too had succumbed to sugar. The almighty had fallen. I think she wanted to be transparent to her “followers”, show that she was human and that even she the Queen of Healthy Eating could fall prey to sugar’s evil ways. Sugar is a temptress you know.
In her words, she thought by telling her readers, that two chocolate croissants “undid” her, would “Contribute Something Helpful” (I have no idea why those words were capitalised). But the more I read, the more I found myself gagging on my sugary breakfast cereal. If providing a bit of a giggle, followed quickly by an uncomfortable uneasiness, was the “Something Helpful” then she succeeded. Here’s an excerpt:
“So yesterday I ate two chocolate croissants. Let’s be sure: they weren’t even good ones. They were stodgy and filled with PUMA-drenched Nutella-like goo. And I’d already eaten a full breakfast. And ate them with extra butter. But I was having a flap. And the flap took me straight back to a well-grooved rut that I spent, ooohhhh, a good twenty years chiselling into my being. It’s the rut that I used to go to almost daily when I got hurt, uncertain, uncomfortable, wobbly. Stodgy, PUMA-drenched pastries were what I would drown myself in when the panic and anxiety in my gut got too much. The stodge was like a suffocating pillow I could jam down on top of the anxiety. It would work. For five seconds. Until vile guilt overwhelmed me. And the anxiety – now carrying the weight of a gluten-y, sugary pillow – would flare up again.”
She goes on to detail what caused the eating of two croissants.
“What triggered the flap? A bit of travel loneliness, solo existence listlessness (it gets so damn exhausting making decisions on your own, like where to today? Should I hike here or there? etc.), oh, and also emotional confrontation.”
Look, before you all get grumpy at me for this. I get that for many people eating sugar does negatively impact on their bodies (as it does Sarah’s) and it impacts on them emotionally, but the obsessive nature in which she writes about eating the two croissants is reminiscent of how I would’ve written in my diary about eating a Mars Bar as a calorie-obsessed teenager. This extreme obsession over food is troubling. I hope the young women who follow Sarah Wilson, who have given up sugar not because of medical reasons, but for weight issues do not feed off this. I hope this sort of self loathing for eating just two croissants, doesn’t send a message to young girls that it is ok to punish yourself emotionally for eating something unhealthy. That when you give in to a sweet craving you must wallow in your misery before being “mature” and getting on with your rigid eating plan. I hope it doesn’t justify an anorexic’s harmful relationship with food.
The message to send people should be to maintain a healthy lifestyle through moderation, not extremism. And by connecting her food blip with her entire emotional wellbeing is unsettling, to say the least.
But what is also troubling is that she has used this revelation, this declaration of failure, to promote the commencement of her next 8-week course. It worked. She’s got the promotion required. I’ve fallen into the trap by writing about it. You must sign up to the plan to stop yourself from failing over and over again, right?
However, unlike when I imagined her happily living a lifestyle she had chosen for herself, I now feel a little sad for her. To live with such an unhealthy relationship with food to the point your emotional well being is so damaged by eating two croissants, must be very difficult. I wish her all the best.
And I hope that the women out there obsessing over every morsel that passes their lips find the support and guidance they need and do not hook onto the belief that it is ok to beat yourself up with such conviction over such a small thing as two croissants. Imagine how they’d react if they found themselves alone in an airport eating an entire Happy Meal?
What are your thoughts?