I have a problem called I get addicted to things way too easily. And by “things,” I mean certain food items. This seems like such a trivial matter to be seriously concerned about, but I think there’s potential for something catastrophic.
My current addiction is to Little Debbie Caramel Bars. I first bought them a few months ago. I was walking through Wal-Mart and while picking up a few groceries, I happened to spot them in the snack aisle. These caramel bars used to be my favorite snacks when I was a kid, but I hadn’t seen them for sale in years. When I noticed them, I decided that I must buy them and relive my childhood.
I treasured this first box, savoring every one of the eight bars. When I ran out of them, I searched Wal-Mart for some more. There were none to be had. I started making it a point to hunt for them during every trip I took to Wal-Mart. A few weeks went by, but I found nothing. It was odd, I thought, that they only seemed to be available during that one time.
Then, to my surprise, I saw them again one day. The packaging was different (more in line with a fall theme), but the box was unmistakably what I wanted. On my next couple of trips to Wal-Mart, I looked for them, but to no avail. Then once again, there they were! I bought two boxes to take advantage of this serendipitous moment. Not long after that trip, the caramel bars became a regular staple in the Little Debbie snack area.
A holiday occurrence prompted me to muse about my new food addiction. There are two other items that I’ve been addicted to before, and I mean seriously addicted. First were the Icebreaker mints. I got tired of gum, so I bought them one day. I started popping them all the time. I felt wild cravings for the mints and experienced withdrawal if I didn’t indulge. During one summer I had to pinch pennies, so Icebreaker mints had to go. It was difficult at first, but I don’t miss them. To this day, I will not allow myself to buy those mints.
I also was addicted to/am addicted to Rice Krispies Treats. If I buy a box, I will eat at least four a day. I can’t help it. I’ll feel the pull of them and try to resist only to have the craving overpower me. Therefore, I also don’t buy Rice Krispies treats.
But my family does. When I go visit them, I will find myself drawn to the Rice Krispies treats. And this is where the holiday happening comes in.
I am overweight, probably hideously fat. When I see my family, they sometimes feel the need to point this out and admonish me to watch my eating habits. This time, it was my brother. He told me that I should be more careful about what I eat and that he saw how, in the past, I’d devour Rice Krispies Treats. I was embarrassed that someone had noticed, so the fear of further embarrassment kept me away from them during that visit.
One day, I realized that I gravitated toward the Caramel Bars as I had toward the Rice Krispies Treats. I would eat one to four of them a day, and they added up. I resolved not to buy them anymore when I returned home. I finished the box I had, but I didn’t purchase a new one. I was successful for about two weeks. Then yesterday while I was at Wal-Mart, I felt such a persistent craving for them that I directed my steps toward the Little Debbie area and picked up a box. I tried to resist, but shamefully, I caved in.
I ate two caramel bars as soon as I got home. I ate two this morning. That means I’ve already eaten half of the stupid box.
I feel like when I eat one, I can’t just eat one. There’s this little trigger of intense pleasure somewhere in my brain, and to keep that switch on, I will eat more.
My hypothesis is that there’s some chemical explanation for these food addictions. That perhaps these foods will release some chemical that gives me pleasure. Maybe even with the caramel bars, it resonates somewhere in my brain that causes a pleasant childhood experience to repay itself. I have no scientific basis for these theories; they are merely my conjectures based off of what I’ve observed. If someone has an idea about any real science behind the phenomenon, I would love to hear it.
This current food addiction is just one of several reasons why I struggle with my weight. I believe that the main reason for my addiction, though, lies with depression. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve turned to food to soothe me when I’ve been my most depressed. And then there’s the defiance of my family and societal standards. I will think, so what if I’m fat? Why should it matter what I look like? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. I think that I might also use fatness as a shield. I will sometimes feel that no one likes me because they see this grossly humongous person ambling around. I can fall back on that as an excuse for failing at social interaction. The truth is, however, that it’s my social anxiety that makes me socially inept. Still, I sometimes can’t help feeling that more people might approach me if I were more pleasing to the eye. But the failure doesn’t lie with my appearance, it lies with who I am.