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Observations from Delhi Airport and Breaking the Sugar Attachment

On my way returning to Kathmandu, Nepal to work with Nepal Orphan’s Home on using Khan Academy with their kids.  While traveling there from London, I just barely caught my connection through Delhi. In the airport there, I noticed three distinct things:

  1. The pollution in Delhi is intense with the ground full of a haze which turns everything which isn’t within a kilometer into a dull gray, despite the bright sun. Hoping that Kathmandu won’t be as bad, but in less than two hours I’ll land there and know for myself. I was last there in the monsoon season which perhaps kept the skies well laundered.
  2. I felt that familiar “heart smile” that I’ve felt every time I’ve walked through an airport in India. There is something about this country that simply makes me happy. I recognize that because my body seems to smile, starting at the armpits, looping down under my chest and back up to join in the sternum. Makes me curious how I’ll feel once I land in Nepal.
  3. Since Air India had altered their schedule after I booked, there were only about 45 minutes for me to catch my flight to Kathmandu. I made my way to the flight transfers area where they re-frisk travelers and carry-on bags alike. It felt very disorganized with multiple queues heading toward multiple layers of glass separated inspection areas, each with their own separation of men from women. It appeared that there would be no way to catch my flight as despite my pleadings of the monitors there, the time of my flight came and went while I was in one of the serpentine queue. Although I couldn’t understand what was told to me, a man in front of me interpreted the official’s accent for me. Apparently he said “the plane will not leave without you.” I somehow doubted it to be true, but had little choice but to either act like aone of those ugly off-put westerner or relax and let the future unfold as it will. Eventually I got through, hustled my way to the gate, and sure enough they were there waiting for me, closing the gate behind me; a good 20 minutes past my flight’s scheduled departure. I was reminded of India’s beautiful mix of organized chaos. The only reason things become problems is because we are too attached to having them work out the way we want them to. We are encouraged consistently to trust that despite our nervous western extrapolations, everything will be OK.

sugarAnd speaking of attachments,  I decided on this flight to stop eating sweets and added sugar during my time in Nepal. I’m not making a commitment longer term than that, but I think this will be a good opportunity to clear out what addictions or attachments I may have to sugar and see how I feel afterwards. Limiting added sugar has felt like the next logical frontier in improving my diet and long-term health and energy. I have found that I often have cravings for sweets, but also that I generally feel like crap after eating them. When I decided for health reasons to stop eating cheese for a while, I began to notice how intense the craving and compulsion was for it. It took about 1 or 2 months for me to walk past the cheese aisle in the grocery store without being drawn in. Although I do eat cheese now and again, I no longer buy it and have no compulsion to eat it whatsoever. Although I don’t know for sure, I think that sugar will be the same even though the attachment may perhaps be stronger.

My hope is to break that compulsion feeling which arises now and again. My caveat while in Kathmandu will be that I’ll allow myself sweets if part of a special celebration or if someone personally offers me sweetened Nepali tea.  Sometimes, times away from home are the best for making changes. I find it can be easier to establish new habits when removed from my familiar environment, where old habits are otherwise naturally reinforced.

Next up, Kathmandu.

3 replies on “Observations from Delhi Airport and Breaking the Sugar Attachment”

I still crave sugar. It is the hardest addiction (other than unhealthy relationships?) that I’ve struggled (am still struggling) to overcome. When I haven’t had sugar for a while, and then do, it tastes so sickly overly sweet, like when I tasted your mango django dealies. But I get irritable and anxious and something GNAWS at me until I go get a fix. I try staving it off with pure dark chocolate, drinking lots of water and stevia-sweetened teas, chomping on an entire jicama root, but nope, I WANT SUGAR.

And maybe I’m addicted to starch as well. There’s sugar insidiously in /everything/. Bread, every sauce, pretty much anything with an ingredients list. I finally found a brand of mayonnaise that doesn’t contain sugar. Living and eating with Jon has made me acutely aware of the sugars in everything.

I have higher priorities than my fulfilling my biological primate cravings for sugar. It is unnaturally abundant, but I am still wired to WANT MORE, and whoops, there it is. So available.

As to making caveats and starting out with loopholes, I’ve found (even though I don’t bring any sugar home) that I easily celebrate “holidays” every direction. Oh, my friend offered me tea and a biscuit; it’s a holiday! Not eating sugar in India is going to cut down on Every Single Food Item, unless you cook it yourself from scratch, every time.

Best of luck, and in non-sugar solidarity!

Molly, thanks for your comment on sugar cravings. It’s a battle, as these impulses come straight straight from the pleasure center of the brain. No different than crack and sex in that they always lead to wanting more. Sometimes thinking about the biology of the brain and recognizing that we are simply driven in many ways by wiring helps me to fend off impulses which may be destructive. Sometimes, I can say to my brain, “oh no you don’t!” with a finger waggle.

In a place like Kathmandu where I’m not as in control of my food options as meals here are largely served to me, the best I choose to do is make conscious choices. I try not to be dogmatic about these things unless it’s truly what proves to be required.

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