I’ve been a sugar fiend since I was a little kid. Until about age nine, I would spoon sugar into my grilled cheese sandwiches when they came out of the microwave. During grade school, I would usually bake chocolate chip cookies-a big batch of them- on Friday afternoon, and they would be gone by Sunday. Thankfully, I’ve learned self-control and somewhat outgrown the obsession. But this time of year is special. Between mid-October and New Year’s Day, it’s extra difficult to avoid buying and politely decline all manner of sweets (not that I do the rest of the year either).
Holiday-specific candy is particularly treacherous for me. Candy corn, Toblerones (a Christmas tradition in my family) and Cadbury Mini Eggs are such ingrained pieces of the holidays that I don’t think I could ever turn them down completely. So last weekend, I caved and bought one small bag of autumn mix for pumpkin carving. I’ve been putting off buying any kind of Halloween candy for weeks. We don’t get trick-or-treaters in our complex, so there’s no reason to stock up aside from wanting to indulge my own inner child. My inner child is very persuasive when she’s been given candy, which leads to more candy.
Here’s the crazy thing about this sugary concoction: it doesn’t even taste that good. Sure, it’s fine if you’re eating mindlessly, but if you stop and really taste it? It’s about as sweet as can be up front, a little waxy, with a mild aftertaste of bitter red dye. It reminds me of red licorice. And yet we keep eating it. One small bowl was shared three ways, with my husband and cousin. In more recent years than I’ll admit, I could have downed the bowl myself in an hour. These days I’m a little more conscious and was super aware of the gross taste in my throat and the energy crash that followed even just a reasonable amount of the candy.
So why eat this stuff? For me, nostalgia. Nibbling on candy corn reminds me of being a kid. If I wanted something delicious, I’d get a fancy chocolate bar or a couple of truffles. Autumn mix reminds me of years ago when my biggest concern was this week’s spelling test. One bag for the season is plenty. It has virtually no nutritional value and is only mildly enjoyable, so why bother with more? Give in to nostalgia for a bit and call it a day without faulting yourself for breaking this or that arbitrary rule. The fact that I didn’t enjoy this candy very much is a good sign to me that I’m at least sensitive enough to multiple-sweetener-based “foods” to know when I’m eating them. It’s one of the many benefits of eating a mostly plant-based unprocessed diet—there are plenty more mentioned on 100 Days of Real Food, a blog I frequent. This awareness in itself is a victory over the inner fiend. Now if only peanut butter cups would stop being so delicious…