It wasn't a typical Halloween scene: college students skipping down the wealthiest part of Sunset Boulevard shouting "Trick or treat!" I pretended I was trick-or-treating for the same reasons my friends were: as a goof, a prank, and a break from studying, but in reality, I was deadly serious about getting some free high-end candy.
Once we got past the huge gates that separated each house from the street, we would usually find a gigantic bowl of candy at each door with a note saying we were on the honor system and that each trick or treater should only take one piece of candy.
Well, I’ve never claimed to be honorable, especially when it comes to candy. I took at least two heaping handfuls, three if I was sure there were no witnesses.
I have no control over myself when it comes to consuming candy. I have a candy addiction.
My candy addiction is always with me, but the period between Halloween and New Years is the most challenging time of year.
There are people who say, “When I was a kid, I could make my candy last for an entire year.” Well, not me. I wasn’t Charlie Bucket of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory taking a tiny nibble every now and then. I’m Augustus Gloop and Veruca Salt combined. I want lots of candy, and I want it NOW.
When you grow up in a fatphobic household the way I did, treats become magnified in terms of their importance. My mother would pick through my candy, choosing the best for herself. Then she’d feel guilty for eating the empty calories and throw the rest out to avoid temptation. I couldn’t be sure that my candy wouldn’t be confiscated at some point, so I got in the habit of eating it as quickly as possible while I still had it.
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Some dieticians believe that if you have a small portion of something, it can satisfy you. I wish I could eat just one mini-Mars bar and not have an overwhelming need to eat the entire bag, but that’s not how I’m wired. If there’s candy in my house, I swear it calls to me and won’t let up until I’ve consumed it all. It doesn’t matter that I feel nauseated and can’t sleep. Somewhere deep inside is a part of me that believes no one can take my candy away from me if it’s already being digested.
I say I’m addicted to candy instead of sugar because I can control myself with most sugary treats. I can substitute Stevia in my coffee and tea easily, and I can say no to cookies, ice-cream, and pieces of cake. I can even pretend to dislike churros and donuts, but if I’m craving some candy, I won’t stop eating until I’m well past full.
Candy comforts me, satisfies me, and never judges me. I wish I could say the same things about the people in my life.
There are only a few homes on my street who give out candy to trick or treaters. Our house is one of them—and we don’t give out the cheap stuff. We give good candy: peanut butter cups, mini Mounds, mini Snickers, mini Kit Kats, and tiny boxes of Milk Duds. We tell ourselves that we need to buy the candy early for quality control. Think of candy like wine—you wouldn’t give someone wine that you wouldn’t drink, right? Well, that’s how we are with candy.
My over-indulgence starts with me cutting a small hole in the plastic candy bag, selecting a few favorites, and trying to savor them. But I usually lose the battle right off. I continue to go back for more and more candy until I have a large pile of empty wrappers sitting next to me. I will bury them in the trashcan so that anyone looking at the trash (trash examiners?) won’t see the evidence of my gorging.
I know that too much sugar is bad for me. It rots the teeth and can lead to a variety of health issues. But I feel powerless to stop. I try to limit my access to candy, but from October 31st on, it’s everywhere. For Halloween, there’s candy at parties and work. Even after the holiday, people bring leftover candy to work. Thanksgiving has less of a focus on candy, but what about Hanukkah chocolate gelt and dreidel candy? And Christmas is a hugely candy-centric holiday filled with candy-canes, peppermint bark, chocolate marshmallow Santas, and chocolate advent calendars. I can’t avoid all the candy availability around me during the holiday season.
Candy addiction isn’t the same as alcohol addiction. However, I can appreciate how it feels when everyone around you is imbibing, and you know that even if you have just a tiny sip, it could undo the progress you've made.
When your addiction makes you feel out-of-control and changes the quality of your life, it needs to be taken seriously—even if other people think it’s harmless.
If I get jonesing for candy and there isn’t any in the house, I’ll just eat what I call chocolate “snackin” chips by the handful. It’s easier to justify buying chocolate chips for baking than it is for buying a super-sized bag of M&Ms.
I wish cherries were in season in the winter because they’re the only fruit that satisfies me in the same way that candy does. And no matter how much I try to convince myself that mint-chocolate tea is delicious, it will never satisfy my sweet tooth the way that Junior Mints do.
My best option is to trick myself. When I feel the candy-hunger coming on, I’m going to drink two glasses of water so that I feel full. Then I’ll eat as much candy as I want. Hopefully, it won’t take too many pieces for me to get to the overly-full stage. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.