“I go running when I have to. When the ice cream truck is doing sixty.”
– Wendy Liebman
The past week has been miserable. Last Tuesday the blizzard of 2010 began here in NJ and we ended up with two days of no school and I had the good fortune of coming down with my first cold in two years that very same night. For seven full days and nights, I have been sniffling, sneezing, coughing and completely a mess. And, I have had two incompassionate boys who wanted nothing more than to have my full attention during this time. Well, truth be told, my 6-year old, in his attempt to gain status as my favorite son, kept offering his sympathy and rubbed my back as I coughed. On the other hand, my pre-adolescent 9-year old glibly acknowledged his lack of regard for my illness and admitted that he really only cared about playing in the snow and playing NBA Live on the X-Box. At least he is honest…
One of the last things I did before the onset of snow and sneezing is have a conversation with my friend and health and wellness coach Michelle Marin. I am helping Michelle with some work with her business and she is helping me with my struggles with health and fitness. For my entire life I have struggled with managing my weight and have had an often-unhealthy relationship with food. I only realized well into adulthood that I had an addiction to sugar (crack for non-druggies) and began my journey to curb my addiction through various forms of rehab and detox. But, alas, my sugar is always there for me when no when else is. When I am here at work all by my lonesome with no co-workers to chat with, my sugar manifests itself in many forms and is happy to keep me company and chat me up about any topic. It does not judge me. It does not talk back. It does not tell me my ass looks big (although, invariably after a few therapy sessions with sugar, my jeans are that much tighter and my ass that much larger). Sugar provides with a quick fix of happiness but, ultimately, it makes me very, very sad. My most favorite way to interact with my friend sugar is via ice cream. I would set up an IV-drip of ice cream if there was a way I could do it without killing myself (because then there would be no more ice cream, of course and that is a good enough reason to stay alive for me). I am non-judgmental when it comes to ice cream. I believe in diversity and, while I am not a great fan of chocolate (calm down, people – I can still be an addict even if chocolate is not my drug of choice), I can take my ice cream in just about any flavor. And, when desperate, I will even accept chocolate. I have gone for long stretches without having ice cream in my life but, once it returns, it makes a big entrance, stays far too long and leaves way too much damage in its wake. And, when talking to my friend Michelle last week, I shared with her that I was in the midst of an ice cream tsunami.
I have traced the roots of my love for ice cream back to my childhood when I was not allowed to have it because my mother was very weight conscious and did not believe in moderation but, instead chose abstinence. She did not let her children indulge because she felt that she could not resist the temptation of having it in the house. While I resent her decision, I completely understand her inability to refrain from indulging. As a result, when I did have ice cream, it was like some vacation romance that you fantasize about long after you have returned wondering what it would be like if you could just be together one more time. Each time was better than the time before and by the time I went away to college, I was on a mission to meet Ben and Jerry and make them my own. I denied my feelings for ice cream because I knew that it was not a healthy relationship and I knew that I had to keep my love affair a secret from others. I often smuggled pints of my favorite varieties into my dorm room, apartment, marital home and discarded the remains before anyone could notice. I fantasized about being alone so I could sit down with my spoon and begin my journey through the melting top layers of a container of Breyer’s Neapolitan (love strawberry and vanilla and will tolerate the chocolate mixed with the others) or a pint of Haagen Daas Rum Raisin and later in life my beloved Ben & Jerry’s Low Fat Cherry Garcia (I became much more health conscious so moved to frozen yogurt). I truly have struggled with this relationship and when I was talking to Michelle about it last week, she made a statement that I will never forget:
“YOU NEED TO LEARN TO LOVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ICE CREAM”
I had to stop and replay that line in my head. “Love my relationship with ice cream???” How could this be? It has been programmed into my mind and soul for so long that this is a forbidden love that I could not imagine how I could begin to openly express my feelings and accept that ice cream is a real part of my life rather than a secret indulgence that I try to hide in the back of the freezer. When Michelle shared this idea with me, it reminded me of another piece of advice offered to me by another nutritionist who told me that if I needed to indulge in candy or some other type of sweets, I should sit down and, like George Constanza who ate a candy bar with a fork and knife, put it on a plate and enjoy the experience of eating it rather than rushing through it like a junkie. So, now with this wild concept swirling around in my head, I was faced with a week of being sick and at home. And, everyone knows that nothing treats a sore throat better than ice cream. After all, what do kids get after they have their tonsils out??? You know, I always hoped and prayed that I would have to have mine removed knowing that the ultimate reward would be an unlimited supply of ice cream. I am still waiting and hoping just to have full license to eat as much ice cream as I would like.
I spent much of the past week sitting on the couch catching up on episodes of my new favorite show House M.D. (I am often very late to the table with these things so needed to watch 5 1/2 seasons really fast). As I watched the sexy Dr. House struggle with his own addiction to vicodin, I was beginning to accept my open and loving relationship with my narcotic ice cream. I enjoyed some sessions with the mini containers of Haagen Daas Strawberry, an exuberant thrill ride with some over-indulgent Breyer’s Cookie Dough and a quiet evening with a pint of my old standard, Cherry Garcia. Yes, my jeans are tighter and my ass no longer fits in the mirror but I have been unremorseful about allowing myself to experience the pleasures of my long-lasting love. I am not naive though. I recognize that while I have come clean about my lustful romance, this is just part of a larger 12-step plan. This is just the first step in creating a more healthy relationship with ice cream and with food, in general. Coming out of the closet and openly and honestly accepting my relationship will hopefully remove some of the power ice cream holds over me. It is part of the larger journey of understanding what my body is really telling me and knowing that the call for ice cream is merely a ruse for what truly aches in me – whatever that might be at the moment. Perhaps it is the need to address some inner pain that is rearing its ugly head. Perhaps it is the need to connect with my husband or with friends because I am feeling lonely. Perhaps it is the need to actually get some exercise rather than vegetating in front of the television. Or, perhaps, it is simply that I am in the mood for some ice cream.
Please share with me your own secret food addictions or tell me about how you learned to love your relationship with them!