It’s my best and worst addiction. More pernicious than any dependency on caffeine or any compulsion to excessively exercise. My impulse to devour copious amounts of the white stuff has become all-consuming. The ‘white stuff’ I am referring to is sugar and it’s in everything, from stock cubes to peanuts to my particular addiction Haribos.
On my travels to Brazil, I realised how far I had fallen. I was out in the country’s 30 degree sweltering heat with a small group of friends. We had found some shade under corrugated roofs of non-descript shop fronts. Our bus was taking a lifetime to arrive. Caricoca’s, the byname for Rio natives, were playing samba for us. And suddenly I let out a wild shriek in excitement as I noticed the store to my right had a three bags of Haribos – of course, I bought them all.
I was fixated with recording this glorious moment on my phone’s camera. And by the time the bus finally arrived I nearly missed it in the pursuit of over-sharing with my followers. My behaviour on this part has been out of control for some time. You know how some people pre-visualise what daily tasks they hope to accomplish? I pre-visualise popping to the supermarket and buying packets of sweets. I knew it got ridiculous when for my 20th birthday I decided to make an eight hour round-trip. My destination? The sleepy Yorkshire town of Pontefract where the only Haribo store in the UK is based. I’ll never forget stepping out of my cab, and being struck by the tantalising aroma of Haribos that emanated through the street air.
I recall entering the shop and feeling delirious with excitement which, admittedly, freaked out the shop assistants. I bought as much merchandise as I could carry; sweets, cups, glasses, stuffed toys and I even offered one worker £50 for the shirt off her back. I was indiscriminate.
The addiction was compounded by those closest to me who were fermenting the problem: They bought me bundles of Haribos every year for my birthday, they laughed and encouraged my travels – saw me visit the home of Haribo in Bonn, Germany – and they frequently updated me on new packets they had seen.
My habit doesn’t stop my disdain for other’s bizarre behaviours. Don’t get me started on “foodies”. Those individuals who believe that have discovered the latest food trend. You know the type to dip their chips into their milkshake and upload the image online then stamp it with #FoodGoals.
And what with people who spread chocolate on their bread before sprinkling cheese on top?
My childhood couldn’t have been more different. My strict parents only prepared healthy home-cooked dishes for me and my siblings to eat. My earliest memories of eating sweets were every Friday at the pick n mix stall at my first primary school. I think that’s when I first got hooked but wonder how I got to this point. How do you describe the addiction of consumption? It’s a dopamine-induced happiness which needs to be fed by my incessant quest for pleasure, which is all too easy to satisfy in the current consumer culture.
So what’s the answer? Brain exercises? A self-inflicted period of abstinence? I’m not sure, but after years of sugary consumption led me to develop a literal sweet tooth I knew I reached a rubicon.
I hardly eat Haribos anymore apart from when I work and spend hours in a sedentary job. But I now also limit myself to a packet every two days. And I have begun replacing bonbons with healthier alternatives such as mixed nuts. These are only small steps but hopeful they lead to big changes.