February 04, 2020
Whenever you eat a piece of junk food, it's just like saying f*** you to yourself.
You can see that doughnut that someone has kindly laid on the table, just an arm's reach away. Well, a lean and an arm's reach. It would take a bit of a bum shuffle just to the edge of your chair, perhaps your bum just lifting off as you enter a very slight squat, a bit of tension in the thigh and hamstring. While reaching, you'd probably let out a couple of words to disarm the situation. "I'll just have one", "You can't beat a good doughnut", "My diet's gone already today". Lengthening your fingertips toward the box, your eyes widen. Your pupils dilate.
It's brightly coloured, one of ten thousand exactly the same. The print, a retro-style design, a tribute to a much earlier day when each individual doughnut was once hand-made by the master baker, using his grandmother's recipe in their family-run boutique bakery on Drury Lane. As if clinging onto this history would be enough to feed the fantastic narrative that each ring is still of comparable quality, despite replacing the master baker with a board-room and the bakery with a production line.
Your bum is now fully raised from the seat as your shoulders extend to reach the box. You're hoping none of the five pairs of eyes have sent signals to their respective brains to register your activity. Yet, you know you shouldn't do it. The guilt begins to make you feel sick to your stomach, but you are committed, past the point of no return. You couldn't stop this instant, could you?
Surely you would need the doughnut to act as a counterweight for you to descend back onto your seat unharmed. Or is it that you just couldn't take the disappointment, returning back from a treasure-hunt without the treasure? You've come so far! If you back down now, what will the others say?
Your choices are obscured by the thin plastic window. It crinkles as you open it and a multi-coloured shine glazes over your face as if you had opened the portal to another world. Thoughts are now cascading uncontrollably through the conscious mind. Anticipation, excitement but also guilt, self-loathing, reminiscent of that time when you were still a teen when you almost cheated on your significant other.
You're in a panic. You only have one chance to get this right. The blue one, the pink one, the sugar-glazed one? Hole or no hole? What if you don't like the filling? You hate too much cinnamon.
You finally settle for one placed offset-centre, covered in chocolate sprinkles. It has a dark-brown glaze. It's sticky and the sugar is soft to your skin. When you apply pressure between your opposing fingers and thumb, you can see it warp in shape slightly. But it doesn't spring back like an airy dough. Instead, it is solemn. Some of the sprinkles fall off but, rather than flutter like fairy wings, they crash and roll like rotten logs.
You observe part of the dough that is not covered in icing. It has oily skin and warts. If only you knew that the oil is also sick. It has been perpetually abused, heated and cooled by different people again and again. It's carrying excess baggage that will now become a part of you. Are you sure you're ready to commit to that?
But you ignore all the red flags. Snapping out of your tunnel vision, you remember where you are. The ten individual eyes watching you like an animal in a cage. You can't look up for the fear that eye-contact might turn you to stone. Like a gremlin, you quickly snatch the precious. You smash it into your mouth. Your heart is beating heavily now, the thoughts in your head, homogenous. Self-hatred. The icing is too sweet and the dough is dense, oily and lifeless. Your saliva can't keep up with the cascade of nondescript matter that has entered your body. You are full of remorse but you are at the icy poles of no return now. Social norms don't allow you to spit out your mistake in disgust. The eyes have all seen you now.
The narrative of history and quality was a lie. It is a substance devoid of any culture or love. Who were you going to thank for taking time out of their day to hand-make each one and share their craft with the world? Nobody. After the mass finally turns to smooth sludge, you can pass it down your gullet for the rest of the organs to deal with now.
Fuck you body. I hate you. I don't care anyway.
As the stream of negative thoughts slowly settles, you're now hit with a splash of hope. "I know I didn't need that", "I knew it was going to be too sweet.", "I didn't enjoy it that much anyway", "Next time, next time I will say no."
Next time. Sounds familiar?
Within five minutes you have eaten two more. You become numb to the sensory experience as the conscious mind contracts into its own self-destruction. You know better but you did it anyway and not before long, you will have done it again. There's always a reason. This time it is the staff party, but next week it's Chris' birthday.
But why? Why can't you say no to these soulless snacks when you know them to be harmful to you.
an inability to stop doing or using something, especially something harmful.
Source: Cambridge Dictionary
So I'm addicted to junk food, is there a rehab centre for that? In that case, surely everyone should be checking in? The only difference between junk food and cocaine is that one is socially acceptable and the other is not but they're both deliciously deadly. What started as humble ingredients have been engineered to be as addictive as possible.
So, if you are addicted, how do you really stop the rot? How do you stop falling off the rails after each stop?
Start here. Love yourself. Know that you deserve to be happy. Use yourself as an object of Metta. Read some Gabor Maté. Your addiction to crap is merely a symptom that all is not well on Planet You. Look around the rest of your life. Is your overconsumption of doughnuts the only issue? Is that your only addiction?
Only once you commit to the righteous road of self-healing will you begin to respect yourself, and anyone truly self-respecting will have eliminated the urges themselves. The truth is, once you have the urge, the battle is already lost. How many times can you say no?
The purpose of this article is not to lay out a 5-step plan for crap-craving cessation, but it is here to help you realise the first of the 12-steps, that you have an addiction and you are powerless to stop your cravings.