Addiction is such a loaded term. Merriam-Webster defines addiction as “a strong and harmful need to regularly have something or do something”. Anyone who suffers from an addiction can sympathize; having a vice that holds sway over you sucks! Addiction can run the gamut from mildly annoying, to life destroying. That nagging inner voice that refuses to shut up until you feed it what it wants…

The lyrics “I want candy…” by The Strangeloves runs through my head far too often. And it’s not just that I want candy, it’s closer to the truth to say, I want, I need, sweets! More and more of anything and everything sweet! No need to guess, my addiction is to sweet. Not just sugar, but anything sweet to the taste. I wish this were a mild hankering that could be satisfied with a Junior Mint or two. But this is an all-encompassing, life-distracting, primal-drive for the taste of sweet. And if I do break down and give into my craving, a little nibble or sip will never do. Kudos to any of you out there who can eat the recommended serving of a sweet item. One bite and suddenly I am incapable of keeping myself from devouring the whole box of See’s candies, or every smidge of the pint of Ben & Jerry’s, or every last donut, or the entire chocolate moose, or… Oh dear, I’d better stop.

My addiction is bitter-sweet (pun intended?) On the one hand, sugar triggers my MS symptoms, and that gives me a tangible reason to avoid sweets; I am pretty sure overindulging in sweets has caused more than one of my full-blown exacerbations. On the other, sugar is everywhere, in everything, it is a necessary part of life that can’t be avoided. So no matter how hard I try, I am always getting a tiny (sometimes not so tiny) amount of sweet.

And while I say sweet triggers my MS, it is not an instantaneous trigger, it is accumulative. It’s not like I eat a handful of raisins and suddenly I can’t walk, that would be too easy. My symptoms come with the gradual addition of little, seemingly innocent, bits of sweet. So just when I think I have a handle on things, when I can incorporate a little taste of sweet into my life, wham! I get blind-sided by an MS flare.

Yes, I can, and do, avoid blatant sources of sugar; candy, ice cream, processed foods. I don’t eat grains (as we digest, grains are broken down into starch, which breaks down into sugars). I avoid starchy vegetables, no corn, no potatoes, I limit winter squash. I even avoid fruit! But every so often I can’t resist, I think a fig will be OK. But that fig leads to a plum, which leads to chia seed pudding, and then maybe a glass of kombucha. None of those foods have all that much sugar on their own, but it adds up, it’s accumulative. And so a few weeks (a few days? I never know when until it’s too late) into little deviances and indulgences I start to feel the results.

I wish I had some great advice to help anyone with addiction conquer or at least tame that addiction. I don’t. This post is mostly just me venting my frustration that I have let too much sweet into my life lately. I am dabbling with moderation, trying to see if I can indulge in a healthy treat, then reign in my sweet-tooth and safely get away from my addiction. I do find that for myself it is best to avoid or remove temptation, avoid all foods that taste remotely sweet. Substituting with a more benign vice. I don’t eat candy, but I have discovered 91% chocolate, yum! But I have to be careful, even those less-dangerous substitutions can do harm when enjoyed too often. On that note, I am going to make myself a cup of tea, and lock away the holiday treats!