I really love a good donut.
There’s something so satisfying about their fatty sweetness.
I haven’t had one in a long time, and I’m not exactly tempted, but as I get "clean" I am realizing what an important role they played in my life.
My now-retired therapist, in a conversation about moderation, said to me, "The problem isn’t one donut, it’s six at a time."
Considering that I can count on the fingers of one finger the only time I ever ate six donuts at a sitting, I knew that while she meant well and might be right in theory, for me she was wrong in practice. I am five feet tall, and little people such as myself simply cannot afford much in the way of donut frequency.
And I believe, looking back on my life over the past few years, that I was fueling myself on donuts. On the way to work, in too much of a hurry to fix breakfast first? Pick up coffee and a glazed stick (which once was known as a glazed cruller) at Dunkin’ Donuts. Feeling fretful on a Tuesday afternoon or uninspired when it’s time to settle down to the sermon on Saturday morning? Swing by Tony’s and pick up some molasses glazed. Coming home late after a meeting, with a long ride ahead and no dinner in the tummy? Hit the drive-thru for some mind-altering comfort food.
It’s not that I can never have such a thing again. After all, armed with the so-called "nutritional" information, I can determine the Points in a donut and eat it and stay on program.
A glazed stick has 8. I get 22 points per day. Just sayin’. It’s a lot of points. Could it possibly be worth it? I’ve spent 6 on a Chocolate Chip Muffie at Panera. I’ve done it more than once. Maybe thrice. But I doubt I’ll do it again. It just wasn’t worth it in terms of fullness.
Because it’s all about the fullness, I realize. A full enough stomach helps a person forget who they are missing or what they are lacking or how poorly they are really caring for themselves. The right amount of doughy heat in the belly grounds the anxious person like weights on a hot air balloon.
Except that it doesn’t, really.
I still have those times when meals have been postponed by work, when I’m missing my husband, when the sermon awaits, when the daughter disputes my value as a human being, when the world seems impossibly cruel and my belly feels utterly empty. I’ve learned to make other choices, and by that I don’t mean carrot sticks. I’ve figured out substitutes that take off the edge without derailing the changes I am making in my life.
I wish I could simply never feel any of those things again, that the big bed upstairs didn’t seem so empty and that soft words might be spoken rather than typed in a little box. But the solution is not to be impervious. The solution is to be accepting of the feelings, and caring toward myself. And I haven’t had a day in the last four months when the answer appeared to be a donut.