Ah, it’s that time of year again. The posters for the Pancake Supper have gone up around town, which means that Lent is on the horizon!
When I was in high school, our minister at the time introduced me to the whole “giving something up for Lent” practice. Up until then, I hadn’t ever given it much thought. That first year, I gave up the boy I had a crush on. (I was a bit of a nut bar, and I chased that poor boy hard. Those 40 days of me “giving him up” were probably the biggest relief in the world for him.)
Since then, I’ve given up everything from McDonalds to candy to chips to French fries. Sometimes, the plan backfires (I gave up McDonalds when I was in college, so I ate at Burger King, Pizza Pizza, KFC, etc. instead, so it was kind of pointless) - but usually I’ve been good to follow through on my promises, and not replace them with another vice.
Over the past fourteen months, as you all well know, I’ve made big changes in my life health-wise, and so when I sat down to consider what I should give up this year, I was actually quite proud of myself when I realized there really isn’t much left that truly tempts me anymore. Last year, I gave up French fries because I was having trouble choosing salad as a side when dining out, but in recent months, I honestly can’t remember the last time I ordered fries as a side. I don’t drink alcohol anymore, I only drink Diet Pepsi on rare occasions, and I just don’t keep chips in my house anymore. I briefly flirted with the idea of giving up meat, but then realized I don’t eat very much of it either, so I’m not sure how much of a challenge it would really be.
Yet, I’m far from perfect, so I tried to zero in on “the bad days”. They still happen, and they’ve happened more often recently than I’d like. What makes a bad day for me now?
A day when I can’t resist having dessert. A day when I can’t sit still unless I have a big mug of hot chocolate. A day when I’m at my sister’s house and can’t stay out of her kids’ collection of candy in the pantry. A day when I end up shoving fistfuls of mini marshmallows into my mouth. A day when I scrounge around to find all the leftover chocolate and/or cookies from Christmas and/or Valentine’s Day and woof it allllll down…
There appears to be a common thread tying all of these together.
And that is sugar.
When did I develop such a sweet tooth? I’ve always been the girl who’d take a bag of chips over a chocolate bar. The girl who’d rather have a savoury appetizer than a sweet dessert. The girl who had no trouble passing by a box of chocolates, but couldn’t stop diving into a bowl of salted mixed nuts.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love the salty stuff.
But the sweet tooth is relatively new. Those cravings are strange for me. And, quite frankly, I don’t like them.
So after a few days of mulling over the ambiguous “giving up sugar” idea, yesterday I sat down and gave myself some more specific guidelines.
Here is what I will be giving up:
- Sweets & Artificial Sweeteners
- Anything that has “sugar” in the first three ingredients on a label
- All artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Sugar Twin, anything with Aspartame, etc.)
- Fat-Free French Vanilla Coffeemate (and all other artificial coffee whiteners)
- Diet Pepsi (or any other soda)
- Desserts (unless it is fruit and/or Greek yogurt)
- All chocolate/candy
- Hot chocolate… AND the damn mini marshmallows!!!
- Epicure’s Cran-Apple Cheeseball seasoning (which is my favourite add-in to plain Greek yogurt)
Here is what I’m still allowing myself to have:
- Natural Sweeteners
- Pure Maple syrup
- Pure & local honey
- Raw sugar
Looks pretty doable, right? It’ll be tough, but I think I can be successful. My hope is that if I’m successful, by the end of 40 days, the sweet tooth will be gone. Another goal will be to not replace the sugar-jonesing with other bad stuff, such as chips or salty snacks.
Honestly, I think the hardest part is going to be the coffee. I have at least one cup of coffee with Fat-Free French Vanilla Coffeemate in it every morning. If I’m out for breakfast on Sunday mornings, I add milk and whatever low-cal sweetener they offer. I’m not prepared to give up my coffee completely, but I am trying to wrap my head around drinking it without something to sweeten it. I’ve had several people tell me that after a week or so of drinking it black, or with just a little bit of milk, I’ll grow to detest the sugary version I so love now. I have a hard time believing it, but I’m willing to put it to the test. I know that last night I tested it out with honey and milk, and while it was okay, I didn’t like the aftertaste the honey left in my mouth (I may have put in too much, though…ooops).
Another toughie will be the few occasions coming up that feature yummy desserts/sweets that I look forward to, especially our church’s Irish Tea and the March Soup & Sandwich lunch. I’ll have to sit on my hands and have my friends supervise me on those days! haha!
All in all, I’m anxious to start Lent and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m really curious to see if it changes me at all by the end of 40 days. Hopefully it also has a positive effect on my current fitness goals to continue toning up, and eliminating that last bit of belly fat that I’ve been hanging on to. It can’t hurt, right?
All that being said… you can bet your ass I’m going to enjoy all the sweets I can this weekend! Coffeemate! Eating the rest of the chocolate in the house! Hot Chocolate! Mini Marshmallows! If I get a chance to eat dessert, I’m taking it!
Oh, and let’s not forget… PANCAKES ON TUESDAY NIGHT!! ;)
Do you practice giving something up for Lent? If so, what are you giving up this year?