My name is Joshua, and I'm an addict.
In my late teens to early twenties I had a lot of fun, partied hard, and didn’t really give my health two thoughts beyond trying to ‘burn’ enough calories on the dance floor to make up for whatever I had eaten that day. There were times where this approach was successful, but many where it was not. I spent a lot of my younger years on the chubby side.
What I now know is that however hard I might have partied, there was only one drug which I developed an addiction for. Sugar!
In saying this, I want to be careful not to trivialise addiction for anybody suffering the consequences of a serious eating disorder or addiction. They are undoubtedly horrific diseases. But as devastating as they are, maybe we should consider that society trivialises sugar addition?
For the most part I am very disciplined with my nutrition. I enjoy understanding the impact different foods have on my body, and the way they make me feel. However, give me a scoop of ice-cream or a bite of chocolate and it’s a different story. I’ll finish the entire bar, go back and buy another, and spend the rest of the day fixated on where my next sugar hit will come from. Completely contrary to my better knowledge, in this state I am convinced that somehow another donut or ice-cream will clear the cloudy headache that has completely possessed me.
So, why do I think this is relevant to travellers?
Being in a new city that’s wildly different to what you are used to can be a source of countless new and exciting temptations for a food addict. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to try them all. I’m currently in Colombia, and trust me.. ‘All’ is ‘a lot’!
A few weeks ago, whilst walking the 20-minute stretch back home from my Spanish class in Medellin, it occurred to me that that maybe we too easily consider walking to be healthier than getting the bus.
For a food addict, walking home through busy city streets filled with decadent options on every corner can be a stressful experience. There are days when I can smuggly walk past any display of freshly made donuts without a second thought. However, there have been other days, like the one a couple of weeks ago, which left me feeling rotten and helpless.
It started with a slice of carrot cake. If I had left it there I would have been fine, but that’s not how addiction works.
Next it was some frozen yogurt, a cheesecake. Then I accepted that there was no going back, and I hopped from bakery to ice cream stall all the way home.
Sounds extreme, right? Yep! Lucky it doesn't happen often!
In short, walking past the myriad of temptations here isn’t only stressful. It’s expensive too. And by the time I was home I’d eaten far more calories than I was ever going to burn. The evening workout I had planned that was off the table because I felt like somebody had sprayed WD40 all over my brain. Getting the bus would have been cheaper, healthier and quicker!
If this isn’t you, then have a little laugh and keep walking. But if you can relate to this, then consider that it could be worth saving your strolls for a beautiful countryside hike, and when in the city, don’t feel so bad about getting the bus. Or better yet, cycle. You’d be surprised how many cities have bike share schemes. (Medellin and Bogota do!)
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