Column - Quitting one addiction only leads to the nextThe trouble with quitting smoking is that it leads to another terrible addiction – an addiction called food. Quitting eating (or at least eating less) is just as difficult – maybe more so – than kicking the evil weed.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
The trouble with quitting smoking is that it leads to another terrible addiction – an addiction called food.
Quitting eating (or at least eating less) is just as difficult – maybe more so – than kicking the evil weed.
On February 13, 2009, I tossed an empty pack of cigarettes into the garbage and said, “That’s it!” After enduring four days of cold-turkey, nerve-wracking hell, I managed to quit. What made the fifth day of the ordeal somewhat bearable was that food began to taste so good, especially sweets. I began to eat boxes of Mike ‘n’ Ikes, Jujy Fruits and Dots – especially Dots. Candy, as any former smoker knows, becomes a kind of cigarette substitute. Trouble is, it rots teeth and puts on the pounds.
My second feat of willpower, three months after quitting smoking, was to beat back the candy addiction, which I did. No more Dots! But, oh!, how I crave them now and then. Some nights I dream of Dots – dancing Dots in their bright waxy-citrus colors.
It’s the same way I sometimes dream I am smoking cigarettes, then wake up shivering with guilt until I realize, hey, wait now, I never even once cheated since my D-Day.
After I quit Dots and other candies, I re-discovered the joys of food. I’ve always enjoyed food but never had a very big appetite. That was then, this is now. For months, just about every week, I would make key-lime pie and other desserts larded with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I made caramel rolls, chocolate-chip cookies and – one time, just ONE time thankfully – a pumpkin dessert cake that contained about 27,000 calories. I share these treats but not too generously.
It finally dawned on me (duh!), why quit candy only to turn into a fiend for sugar in other forms – baked forms.
Two months ago, I made a vow to quit eating desserts. It wasn’t that difficult. And that’s because I re-discovered delicious dishes made with pasta, rice and every kind of delicious-but-fattening sauce you can imagine – especially homemade Alfredo sauce. My fettuccine Alfredo is to-die-for, and it just might kill me, too, if I don’t stop eating such large portions. In recent weeks, I’ve succeeded in limiting, somewhat, my caloric intake.
My journey from nicotine fiend to glutton has been a rough one. The food, I fear, might do me in quicker than cigarettes would have. In 14 months, I’ve gained about 30 pounds, mostly in the middle. I used to laugh at those people who resemble stranded whales at public beaches.
“They could lose that weight if they wanted to,” I’d say. “Too lazy. Eat too much. No willpower.”
Well, needless to say, I’ve had to eat my words, and they must be fattening, too.
One day, an old friend stopped over, glanced at my blubber and said, “Geeze, Dalman, for cryin’ out loud, maybe you should start smoking again.”
Recently, I was invited to take part in a bike ride on the Wobegon Trail from St. Joseph to Avon and back again.
“Nope, can’t,” I said. “My knees feel creaky today. Anyway, it’s supposed to get really cold and windy. And, well, what if it rains? Today’s just not the right day because I like to bike mainly when the temperature is between 70 and 74 degrees. No humidity. No wind. Besides, that bike of mine has been wobbling. Needs a tune up before I dare get on it again.”
The caller then said, “Excuses, excuses. I’ve never heard so many feeble excuses.”
That accurate accusation made me blush. “Excuses, excuses!” is still clanging in my mind like a bright-red blinking emergency light. After conquering addictions to cigarettes, candy, desserts and high-caloric dinners, I sit here at home on the couch, concocting excuses on how to avoid exercise. Why can’t I become addicted to exercise, the way I was to those other lethal habits?
That does it! I just made a new vow. This coming weekend, I’m going to bungee-strap my bike to the car, drive to the Wobegon Trail in St. Joseph and bike all the way to Avon. Well, come to think of it, maybe not, because how would I get back?