Like an unavailable boyfriend you keep coming back to, even though you know better — the draw to sugary foods is a threat that even the smartest, most well-intentioned woman can succumb to. I’m an evangelist of the “everything in moderation” doctrine when it comes to food, but there can definitely be too much of a good thing (I’m looking at you, doughnuts). If answering these three questions feels like an intervention from your girlfriends who are sick of hearing about Mr. Wrong, it might be time to go cold turkey and kick your sugar habit to the curb.
1. Does it love you back?
Have you ever been in a relationship where you were clearly more invested than your crush? You obsessed, you pined, you tried your hardest to act cool when he called. And every now and then, it was good. Mostly, though, your unrequited love just made you feel bad about yourself. Sound familiar? You drive across town to get the very best cupcake available, you post an adoring photo of your special moment together on Instagram, and you savor your treat with contentment and excitement. You give that cupcake your best. But then what? Does it return your affections, or are you left feeling ashamed, gross, and taken for granted? And the worst part — do you go back again the next day and hope it will somehow be different? Do you obsess about it, convincing yourself that surely there’s some way you can make it work? You want so badly to have your cake and eat it too (literally), but just like that crush who continues to brush you off, that cupcake isn’t invested in your well-being. You deserve better. Sure, kale doesn’t make your heart skip a beat the same way in the beginning, but it also doesn’t leave you feeling worse about yourself after you hook up. Think about it.
2. Does it respect your boundaries?
A wise woman once preached everything in moderation, and you’re on board with this. So you vow to save the sweet stuff for special occasions — your friend’s birthday party or a Sunday brunch, for example. But what does sugar do? Does it respect you, or does it still beg for a late-night booty call even though you’ve declared that you’re not about that life anymore? Do you find yourself eating Ben & Jerry’s out of the carton in your pajamas, finally beaten down by temptation after holding your ground all day? I think we all know the answer.
3. Can you trust it?
You’ve de-sugared your pantry. You’ve announced to your lunch buddy that if she sees you order a cookie she should slap it out of your hand. You’ve taken your healthy vows and put sugar in its place. But here’s the thing about sugar: it can’t be trusted. It shows up unannounced in the break room like a drunk party crasher or it sneaks into your house via a potluck dinner. And if you give in even a little — just one delicious bite — it will never let you live it down. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that sugar has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine, and if you’re a child of the ’80s like I am, you know that the only way to beat a substance that addictive is to “just say no.” Sugar intrinsically senses that if you break your vows even once, you’ll do it again. One minute you’ll be riding your sugar high and feeling great, but you’ll inevitably crash and be tempted to start the ride all over again. You can’t simply play hard-to-get; you have to actually be ungettable. Stay strong, sister.
Breaking up is hard to do. Even when the bad boyfriend in question is a peanut butter, chocolate chip cookie. But if it doesn’t love you back, doesn’t respect your boundaries, and can’t be trusted, it’s time to break free. There’s plenty of [way, way healthier] fish in the sea.