Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Sugar Rampage Demonstrates How Alcohol Kills Self Control

This is not exactly breaking news, but it has truck me recently how often alcohol is the catalyst for loss of self control.

Everyone has a set of thresholds protecting them from doing the things they have decided they are better off not doing, some of which are stronger than others.

For example, I would not normally eat curry sauce when at an Indian restaurant, because I know they often load it up with sugar and salt (depends on the quality of the restaurant, of course.) Yet after a glass of wine, I usually find myself dipping my grilled tandoori chicken pieces in Mrs M's masala sauce. After two glasses, there is a good chance I will be finishing off her curry for her, which means eating a lot more of the sauce. I rarely go beyond two glasses of wine, but if I do, I may be tempted to start nibbling on poppadoms or other non-Paleo foods I would never touch when sober.
Stress and Cocktails
There is also a baseline level of resolve upon which these different thresholds sit. If I am feeling very determined at the time, then I may be able to resist all these things after a couple of glasses of wine; but after a stressful week at work or a long period of strict adherence to my dietary rules, my baseline of resolve may be lower and I am straight onto the poppadoms after one glass.

The trouble is, the one thing I find it hardest to avoid after the first glass of wine is...another glass. So the crucial moment around which the success or failure of my resolve pivots, is the decision on that second glass of wine.

A few weeks back, after a stressful week at work, I failed the second glass of wine test. I then failed the third glass of wine test and a number of subsequent tests which, thanks to my companions, saw these tests stray increasingly into the realms of cocktails I had never heard of.
Late Shop
What followed was not pretty. I had a sudden moment of clarity after drink number seven, and hauled myself into the unsteady moonlight to cross the city on foot and go home before I did any more damage. Until then, I had fortunately not been in an 'eating' situation, so none of my self-control thresholds had been under attack (other than the ones about each consecutive drink!)

However, as I passed a late shop, something snapped - the culmination of a week of stress and at least 4 strong cocktails warped my reason and drove me into the shop with what was probably a look of wild determination.
King-Sized Snickers
There, I purchased a king-sized Snickers bar and then continued my journey home, eating as I went. As fate would have it, I happened upon another late shop and with my self-control now in tatters and my sugar craving fired up, I bought a Boost bar, a large, chocolate-covered flapjack - which I noted contained nearly 1000 calories - and a boxed cake that was not in a chiller cabinet. More on that in a moment.

I then continued on may way, devouring the Boost in a few bites, before tackling the flapjack, which turned out to be denser than a neutron star. This took a bit more work, but by the time I stumbled upon my third shop, I had disposed of that, too.
Gregg's Bakery
In spite of already having a cake in a box, I had to buy something from the shop I had now found. It just seemed too good to be true that I had found a Gregg's Bakery open at 11.30pm on a Saturday. I bought a vanilla slice and a cream donut. By now well and truly gripped with cake fever, I demanded some fresh cream from the pimpled youth manning the counter. He worriedly explained that they don't sell cream. A cake shop that doesn't sell cream? When I had finished haranguing the poor kid about the absurdity of a cake shop where you can't buy cream, I strode the final half mile home.
Recruiting Mrs M
On the way, I phoned Mrs M to let her know I had cake. As you know from The Great Cake Porn Tour, Mrs M is a sugar fiend extraordinaire and can always be relied upon to stray from the path of righteousness when suitably goaded.

So here's the thing: when we had eaten the fresh cakes from Gregg's, I was still good for more, so I cracked open the boxed cake that had not been in a chiller cabinet. Why had it not been in a chiller cabinet, you might be wondering? Perhaps negligence on the part of the vendor? Did it turn out to be off?
The Non-Food Cake
No. This cake was not in the chiller cabinet because it was not food as we know it. It was immune from perishing because it was constructed, so far as I could tell, from non-food ingredients. When I am in the grip of a sugar frenzy, almost nothing can hold me back - but even I could not finish this cake. Mrs M took one mouthful and made a face like she'd had a spoonful of hornets. I thought her hair was going to fall out.

I will save the detail and ingredients for another post. I tracked down the company that manufactures it and am thinking of interesting ways to contact them. Letters of outrage are not necessarily the best way in this case. I am oddly in awe of them, because they appear to have achieved the very apex of food corruption, the zenith of nutritional vacuity. More on this soon.

See Also:
The Worst Cake in the World?
The Great Cake Porn Tour


Anonymous said...

I got trapped in a sugar rampage 2 weeks ago.

I'm still trying to drop the last 5 of the 12 lbs I apparently gained from a day and a half of sucrose/glucose/fructose/eviluctose-induced binging.

Unknown said...

This is just SOO true for me as well! I can be really strict with myself in terms of following my plan for eating/fasting etc. But somewhere between that second and third glass of wine.. I just snap.

If there's a deli around, I'll go in there and buy the greasiest, cheesiest, saltiest, biggest thing I can find to eat. And then follow up with a plastic wrapped, completely syntetic, sugar laden muffin - and stuff my face.

Well, I guess being aware of the problem is a start..

Asclepius said...

"Sugar rampage" is a good way to describe this situation. But I feel that 'blowing your cookies' OCCASIONALLY on a sugar binge is totally paleo.

If you buy in to the idea we evolved in a carb/sugar scarce environment then when we did come across carbs/sugar we would be inclined to binge on it as our bodies would know that this was a 'rocket fuel' and source of dense energy. Summer fuits would be an example.

I know I've had a few sugar rampages in my time - think PacMan and those power pills!

Anonymous said...

I mentioned this to you in the week but I had been having a series of increasingly bad headaches, which I had a suspicion that were related to a recent sugar binge of biblical proportions. This binge and my headaches had reached the crescendo when I purchased 5 bars of Michel Cluizel chocolate. For the uninformed this is basically the difference between eating in a MacDonald's and eating in a Michelin starred restaurant.

Michel Cluizel chocolate is pretty much organic, is devoid of any additives or E numbers, they don't use hydrogenated or trans fats, no emulsifiers, and they use pure cane sugar rather than cheaper beet sugar or corn syrup, however it is still sugar. His product has around 70% cocoa which is the 'right' amount for the chocolate aficionado's

So anyway after caning (no pun intended) about 50g of this stuff a headache materialised like no other I had ever had, and I started to wonder whether it wasn't actually sugar that caused my headaches but shock of all shocks cocoa!

Now for someone like me that's a very hard thing to take! The next evening I ate some more (just to test of course) and had the same headache. That was it I can't eat chocolate.

Now I have internalised this I am actually really pleased, everything sweet I liked almost always involved chocolate and now I can't eat it, my sugar addiction has, well, disappeared.

I feel liberated now, however interestingly I had a few cleansing ales (purely for medicinal purposes you understand) on Friday evening and somehow found myself eating a creme egg and packet of M&M's it is now Saturday evening and I am getting headaches for the first time in a week, it can't be a coincidence.

So here I am and am unable to eat chocolate and by default unable to eat sugar, I am seeing this as a huge benefit to my health and longevity in the long term!

Happy days!

Methuselah said...

Mini - this is good news (I think) - I just hope you don't find something else you like that's sweet and does not involve chocolate! Just to be sure, why not try eating a load of unsweetened cocoa, as the Knackered Hack did, here?

My Year Without said...

I could not help but reminisce my days of sugar rampages. One thing ALWAYS led to another. The more sugar I consumed, the less my sweet tooth was satisfied. There is only so much frosting you can smother a Twinkie with, and remarkably, still crave more.

Thanks for a great story which serves as a reminder why I have to zilch my sugar intake. There is no moderation for me.

As far as alcohol is concerned, one glass (of anything) is my limit, unless I know in ADVANCE that I could enjoy two glasses over the course of an evening. I have to stick to that rule because back in the day, after 3 or more drinks, I was known to eat all sorts of processed meat products which did not sit well with my sober, vegetarian self in the morning!

Anonymous said...

Alcohol is definitely the start of the downward spiral for me. Even just a night of excessive drinking and I'm stopping off at the 7/11 on the walk home for some taquitos, etc, waking up the next morning feeling BLECH.

But still, then, of course, no matter how much water I drink the night before, the next day I am absolutely hard on for junk food. I just can't shake it.

It's really quite interesting, because I have no desire to eat all those healthy things I would normally eat, that I normally love, like say, a nice big beef and feta salad, a whole raw red pepper. I almost find it repugnant or at the very least absolutely uninteresting in a bland kind of way.

Then, the following day I'm back on it and have absolutely ZERO inclination to eat anything sugary/carby and absolutely love the subtle flavours of all the REAL food I'm trying to eat and normally enjoy.


Methuselah said...

Arlo - yep, sounds exactly like my own experiences! There are definately some mechanisms at work here that affect our perception of healthy food.

p said...

Absolutely right on the alcohol. I was on a transatlantic flight and accepted the free glass of wine. I had planned to skip the onboard food, but after the wine I decided I would take the meal but only eat the protein. Of course, once the food was in front of me, I ate every crumb. I think if I rejected the wine, I would have been able to resist the meal altogether. Lesson learned.
Also, it seems much harder to resist food and alcohol when it's "free"

Methuselah said...

p - and of course the food on planes can be loaded with garbage - the ingredients list for those dressing sachets is horrific!

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