I am a mother. I have two young children. And every birthday party I attend feels like one giant lie.
To be honest, I am one who has always prided herself on control.
I maintained two very healthy pregnancies.
I lost the baby weight.
I prioritize exercise.
But, deep within, there is a secret: I have a toxic relationship with sugar. And – when no one is watching – I binge.
The thing about enemies is that it takes great strength to name them. No one likes the challenges they present, and we certainly don’t enjoy broadcasting our struggles to everyone we know. It makes us feel weak and somehow less.
But I am one of those strange people. Unless I write it, I find it impossible to keep myself accountable.
Now back to the cake. What does the average party feel like for a sweets binger? The truth is, I wind up thinking about little else at the party.
Will I be able to say “no” to the cake?
If I partake, will I be able to say “no” to a second piece?
Is my addiction apparent to anyone else around me?
Over the weekend, our family celebrated two very special little people, and I was granted new opportunities to test myself. It was exhausting to consider the willpower each party would require.
My history with sugar has been an uphill battle. I grew up in a home where money was tight, but sweet treats always provided the perfect escape. The world is kinder and hope feels tangible when chocolate is in your veins.
But with my teenage years came the desire to remain thin. Poor eating practices and a strict low-fat diet permitted me to eat all the sugar my system could handle. I’m convinced that many of those late hours spent studying could have been avoided if I had replaced my candy grazing with nutrient dense meals. However, my stubborn nature won.
It wasn’t until I suffered my first miscarriage that the intense sugar cravings began to make sense. In the months that followed our loss, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and, as a result, insulin resistance. As of 2012, my blood work indicated that I was flirting with prediabetes. Keep in mind, I was 5’9” and 127 pounds. My wake-up call sent me a painfully clear message: If you want to have children one day, you must control your sugar cravings.
In my first month of deliberate dietary choices, I became pregnant with our little boy.
Sugar, however, is a sneaky enemy – impossible to control and seemingly impossible to live without. In many ways parenthood feels an awful lot like a marathon: your body yearns for sugar to endure.
But, the truth is, I know I need to change before my sugar binging leads to irreversible bodily damage. And, with this, will come the twilight of thick icing and post-cake guilt. But my children remind me of all the birthdays I stand to gain.
No more shadows. No more excuses. No more recklessness.
Perhaps one day – when, I can only hope, my addiction is far behind me – my children will see that they, too, can overcome deeply personal struggles. That the sweetest victories in life are often the hardest fought. That the missing piece in each of us was never about the cake.
Did you know? Binge Eating Disorder, or B.E.D., is the most common eating disorder among U.S. adults. Click here for more information.