Addiction to Sweetened Condensed Milk
“I’m fat and ugly”, Laura said matter-of-factly.
She told me that she had survived a difficult battle with cancer. Soon after recovering she struggled with depression and anxiety. It was during this difficult time that she began eating uncontrollably.
She had tried some popular diets but had given up soon because she was unable to resist a particular temptation. She was, in her own words, addicted to sweetened condensed milk. She would put it in her coffee, in her tea, on top of fresh fruit, over ice-cream, and even drinking it all by itself!
When she was finished recounting her circumstances, I asked her to dedicate a few minutes each day to write about her personal frustrations. She had to write about everything that bothered her. She had to sit down alone in a room with pen and paper after setting an alarm to go off in 20 minutes time. Then she was to write all her concerns about her weight, her feelings of frustration, her memories of anxiety and depression, and everything else that came to her mind.
She had to look for the worst and the most bothersome thought and feelings and write them down without censoring anything. If she felt like crying she could cry and allow herself to feel all the negative emotions that came as intensely as possible. And when the alarm went off, she was to stop writing, and without reading what she had written, tear up the paper into pieces. She had to do this every day for one full week.
“But what about my addiction?” she asked me incredulously.
“Well”, I said, “it seems to me that you have an addiction that is tough to break. You have been feeling miserable for a long time and suffering from a sweet addiction. I’m wondering if you are willing to learn about your addiction. Your attitude so far has been to fight it and then to blame yourself and feel bitter about the whole thing. However this attitude has made your life very difficult and you haven’t learnt anything from it.”
“But what can I do? How can I learn from my addiction?”
“Instead of suffering from your addiction so bitterly, why not enjoy it?”
Laura look at me again quite puzzled.
“Your very first step”, I continued, “towards freeing yourself from this addiction is to feel it. And the best way to begin to feel it in a different way is to enjoy it! So I want you to set some time aside, every day, to fully take your time to enjoy tasting sweetened condensed milk the way you most enjoy doing so. So instead of eating it hurriedly with guilt, plan it. Organize your meals in such a way that you are able to have your sweet addiction as a delicious desert. Instead of eating it here and there without getting anything out of it, have a serving after lunch. Make a full ceremony out of it. Choose the nicest bowl you can find and pour the sweetened condensed milk in it. Then perhaps you may wish to experiment and add a dash of cinnamon to it. Finally choose a pretty teaspoon as your utensil because a sweet addiction needs nice cutlery to go with it.”
I then suggested to her that eating a delicious meal resembles enjoying pleasurable sex.
“Just as you would rather have slow and elaborate lovemaking over a quickie, take your time and fully savor your sweetened condensed milk.”
I went on for some time and described in detailed how Laura could enjoy her sweet addiction.
At our next session the following week Laura told me that she was fully enjoying the sweetened condensed milk in the new ceremony. I encouraged her to continue enjoying it and gave her another task.
The following week Laura came and said that she was sick and tired of her sweet addiction! For the first time in many years, she actually didn’t buy any of it at the grocery store. In fact, she said she doesn’t even think about it. Moreover she said that she has been eating less food. Another four weeks later her husband told her ‘You have changed!’.
The next time we saw each other was one month later, after the Christmas holidays. She was very happy because she had lost her excess weight and had managed to avoid gaining any weight even during the holidays. Her anxiety and depression were also gone.