I was trying to explain to a friend this morning why other foods just aren't a good substitute for sugar. She was asking me if I found myself wanting to eat more pizza or chips or cheese when I had a sugar craving now. I explained that it wasn't so much wanting those things--what I wanted was sugar--although I tried some of those things out and they didn't work. Alcohol worked. Sugar worked. She wanted to know what I meant by "worked."
The only real analogy I could up with was sexual. If sex is good and if it ends in orgasm, there's a level of physical and emotional satisfaction that comes that's hard to beat. With sugar, I could get to a comparable place. Sometimes I could get to that level of satisfaction with some really great chocolate or cake in small quantities, but most of the time I had to keep eating and eating until I got there. Once I got there, I was done. I didn't crave anymore. I didn't need to eat anymore. Something in my brain, some yearning, had been satisfied and had gone quiet.
I don't know if this correlation with sex works with other addictions (I suspect it works with certain drugs) or if it will work with other sorts of satisfactions. Maybe the yearning will go away if I don't reactivate it with sugar, if I can learn to ride through the cravings. But I do know that it's a complicated mixture of physical, emotional, mental stimuli and chemicals that creates the whole experience. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.