Today is the 28th consecutive day that I have not eaten any candy.
Don't get me wrong...I've had sugar in other forms. A friend's birthday cake (only one slice, but I will admit to consuming the leftover frosting over a matter of days), cookies at a bachelorette party, and a cup of hot cocoa even as I'm writing this. I fully recognize that giving up sugar as a whole = impossible for me. And that's sad. Go ahead and judge, as long as you don't take away my chocolate brownie frozen yogurt, I'm fine. (Because I will cut a bitch for some fro-yo, oh yes I will.)
Anyway...I thought I might try to just limit myself and see if I could go without candy for a month. I love candy. I may have mentioned this a few times already, but I don't think I really explained how much I. LOVE. CANDY. I really don't get sick of it. Sick of myself? Sure. But the sweet, chewy, fake-fruity goodness of a handful of Mike & Ike's? Not on your life. Part of it is an oral-motor thing, as I eschew hard candies and, while I certainly like chocolate, I will always pick the sour gummi worms over the Snickers bar. I also like sweet/tart/fruity things, as long as they're chewy. Jolly Ranchers? Are good if you need a small, solid adhesive. Otherwise, get thee back and bring forth jelly beans (Starburst are a favorite, although the Smuckers and Sweetarts are also quite good).
Um. This might not be such a bright idea, posting about this during the period of abstinence. It's possible I might have just drooled a little bit.
Anyway, the point is that, of all the sugar holds under which I am powerless (what? nothing, just keep going), candy is the worst. I can exhibit self-control at the store and not purchase cookies or donuts, but if it's April, there is some sugar-encrusted marshmallow Peep/Chick/Rastafarian thing going in my basket. (Mmm...crunchy sugar crystals over gooey fake marshmallow--marshmal-faux, if you will...) And then it's in my house, in the candy jar, and I grab a handful whenever I walk by. And I live in a very small house. I eat it mindlessly while reading or nursing or chatting or (and this is just sad) cooking a meal. I keep stashes in my car. I try not to bring it to work, but then I just raid everyone else's candy dish/jar. I'm that girl, the one who brings her files in piecemeal to get a separate Hershey's kiss each time.
I've tried to make some changes. Like only purchasing candy that cannot be wolfed down by the handful. No jelly beans (well, except for Easter, but that's just...anti-religious, that's what that is! Jesus wants me to eat jelly beans to remember his resurrection!), no Whoppers. Mini Tootsie Rolls, Smarties...things that require unwrapping and a bit of attention to consume.
But the bottom line is, I'm more than a little embarrassed by how little willpower I have over candy and how unthinking my consumption has become. It was one thing when I was 22 and we were all young and invincible. I didn't smoke, drink, or sleep with caddish men, so I figured, if this was my one vice, so be it. But now...now I'm 35 and have the metabolism to match. And I have a kid. A kid who watches me and mimics me and who has cottoned on to where my hand goes when I reach waaaay up on that one shelf and says, "Baby? Eat?" I really should put some broccoli up there to throw him off the scent.
So, I've gone the whole month. I ate a good chunk of Tankbaby's Halloween candy that evening and then gave the rest out to other trick-or-treaters so it wouldn't be in the house, tempting me. Then, of course, MOTH brought home a whole container of candy corn. But I stuffed it back on the shelf, above the soups, and--while I can't say I don't notice it when I open the cabinet--I have pretty much forgotten it's there.
And that's been the month. I've been tempted and I've been humbled. Working late at the office one night, totally stressed out, I had to stop myself each time from instinctively reaching for the secretary's candy bowl (what I finally did was take that last damn Reese's peanut butter cup and shoved it in a drawer, just to shut it up). On Thanksgiving, my friend's (soon to be ex) husband brought over a bag of holiday M&Ms that they snacked on while we cooked. And it was really annoying not to be able to just grab a handful.
(Except, of course, that it wouldn't have been a handful. All the other grown-ups had a few here and there, but gradually forgot about the bag of green and red goodies. If I hadn't had a moratorium on candy, I guarantee I would have consumed enough M&Ms to calorically outweigh a big ol' scoop of mashed potatoes.)
And that's what has been the most embarrassing and disappointing and humbling: recognizing how thoughtless--no, that's not right, really...it's careless--eating candy is for me. And that I miss it. I wish I could say that after a month, I'm all "Ew, candy is gross! I can't believe I ever ate that junk!" But I'm not. Instead, I'm marking my calendar for December 1st, when, O Desk Drawer Reese's Cup, you shall be mine.
On the other hand, I know that I can do it. I know that I can walk through the candy aisle (can't skip it, as that's also where crackers live) and, stifling a soft moan, not pick up a bag of Fruiti Gummi Squishie Platypi, or whatever. And I think that's what I'm going to hang on to: the knowledge that I'm not powerless over candy. I can refuse to buy it. I can keep it out of my house (mostly, because see above re: resurrection jelly beans). I can take just one piece out of the office candy dish. Or maybe two. Shut up. The point is, I think sometimes I succumbed out of a sense of "I might as well, because I know that I can't stop myself, so why bother trying"--which is fucked up in its own way, yes?--and I can't use my own weakness as an excuse any more.
MOTH says that my giving up candy while still eating other sugar is like an alcoholic saying, "I'm just going to give up gin." I can see his point, I guess, but I'm still kinda stupidly proud of myself. I think mainly because I think of myself as having zero willpower (there's a reason why I never started smoking/drinking/sleeping with caddish men in my twenties, and it's because I have an addictive personality and would now be a lung-cancer-ridden alcoholic riddled with STDs) and this proved that untrue. I feel embarrassed and silly and ridiculous to stake a claim on this particular trial, but I like that I've succeeded (I say optimistically, as I still have two days left to go). I like that I've proven that I can set a goal (no matter how dinky) and meet it, while still being a mom and socializing with friends and dealing with work stress. Now that I know that, just think of the possibilities! What's next? Showering daily? Cleaning out my purse on a semi-regular basis? Finishing that pile of sewing repairs? The world is my mollusk! The top-of-a-not-terribly-tall-tree's the limit!