Confession: Sugar (it was not sweet)

by | Apr 13, 2021

I Love Hot Cross Buns

They come only once a year, and I get them on the Saturday before Easter from Pastries by Randolph in Arlington. Their Hot Cross Buns are a perfect puff of brioche with a shiny golden crust and a fluffy, flaky inside – so fresh it tastes cool on the tongue. The pristine white of the pastry is disturbed only by bits of perfectly sweet/tart candied orange peel. There’s a flutter of spice in there, too – cardamom, maybe, or nutmeg – barely enough to notice but enough to get my culinary wheels spinning. They’re topped with a cross of picture perfect white sugar frosting – just on the verge of too much, which is exactly how frosting should be. I look forward to the ritual of my annual Hot Cross Bun, it’s intentional and mindful and I enjoy it without guilt or shame.

But this year was different.

I went three days early, on the Thursday before Easter. This year there was social distancing, so I didn’t have to deal with the stress of taking a number and standing elbow to elbow while the other customers stepped on my feet with their muddy shoes and shouted out their orders. This year I was able to just stand there in peace and breathe – there is something uniquely special about the smell of a bakery. Sweet and warm, it makes every bit of me happy.

My ritual is to get one Hot Cross Bun and savor it. But this year I got four. I figured I’d have one a day Thursday through Sunday, gracefully, at 4pm with my afternoon tea.

That’s not how it went down. I ate one in the car on the way home. Not mindful, not intentional – it was a total impulse feeding frenzy. My experience has been that if I have some sugar, I’m going to want more sugar, which is why the ‘only get one’ approach has always been successful, and why buying four was a train wreck. I had that one in the car, I had one standing over the kitchen sink, I had one Friday morning before breakfast, and Friday afternoon I had the one I actually wanted and meant to have: A Hot Cross Bun with butter on a plate, served sitting at a table with a napkin and a cup of tea. It was planned to be a twenty minute respite from a busy day, a cut-it-with-a-fork-and-knife and let-each-bite-roll-over-­and-melt-on-my-tongue type experience. But as it was, I had three bites and a swallow and it was gone.

Then there was the hangover. The sugar hangover from four Hot Cross Buns was dreadful. Headache, dehydration, shakiness, fatigue, irritability – Friday evening, all day Saturday, Sunday, even on into Monday was tough. Water, protein, and bitters are my cure-alls for the day after a sugary treat, but those were only mildly effective against this sugar blow out.

And then there has been this last week. Sugar, as mentioned, is compelling – some even say addictive. If you’ve ever been addicted to something, you know the agony of withdrawal. This last week has been HARD. I have desperately craved sugar every day. I’ve been anxious and jittery. My memory of this Easter won’t be the graceful joy of my annual Hot Cross Bun. It will be this past week of misery. I neglected to be mindful and intentional and it kicked me in the ass.

So there’s my confession. But it’s not a condemnation by any means. Lessons, lessons, lessons. I have lots of experience enjoying sugar in a mindful and intentional way with impunity. But to go off the rails like this brings on a world of hurt, so I won’t do that again.

You might wonder why I’d tip my hand like this when I’m hosting a talk in a few weeks called “How to Get Off the Sugar Rollercoaster”. My thinking is that you struggle with sugar, too, and I don’t want you to beat yourself up about it. You’re going to have slip-ups, that’s how it goes. Meanwhile, it’s likely that I have more experience than you do about avoiding and managing sugar, and I’d love to share that with you. How to be mindful and intentional about your sugar choices, how to deeply savor them, and which tools you can use to recalibrate. I even have some handouts and a collection of amazing recipes to share.

In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, and as far as managing sugar, I’m a knowledgeable guide with real life experience. I’ll always be honest with you, and I walk my talk. So, if you want to take a little walk with me and have some laughs along the way, sign up for the April 28th talk. Hope to see you there!

Your friend, Jennifer Learn more about me and how I can help you quit emotional overeating!


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Hi, I’m Jennifer! I’ve been in practice for over 15 years, and have helped over a hundred women heal their relationship with food.

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