I’ve had numerous requests to write a blog post about how my Lenten resolution to forgo sweets from Ash Wednesday until Easter affected my body and my mind.
First I must clarify that I did not give up sugar or all sweet treats. I simply gave up sweets, which I defined as anything I would normally consider dessert.
I think giving up sugar all together would have been extremely difficult. Sure, it wasn’t fun to have to pass on the gourmet desserts at Ryan’s special awards banquet and I didn’t enjoy saying no to cupcakes and birthday treats at work on occasion, but, for the most part, it wasn’t so bad.
For me, the key was making substitutions when I really wanted dessert. When I was craving ice cream or frozen yogurt, I made smoothies and pseudo ice cream.
When I wanted cookies, I made granola bars or coconut granola.
As I’ve addressed before, I was shocked that my body seemed to crave salty and buttery treats when I gave up sweets. I wanted endless amounts of movie theater-style popcorn, chips, nuts and peanut butter (though that’s not exactly unusual).
And now for the most commonly asked question: Did I lose any weight?
I didn’t do this challenge to lose any weight and, low and behold, my weight stayed basically the same.
For me, my lack of weight loss during Lent further reiterated a few things for me.
First, the occasional dessert won’t kill you. Eating a big bowl of ice cream or a few cookies isn’t going to make you blow up like a balloon. I feel like I maintain a relatively healthy diet and I try to stay active, which leaves me some wiggle room and allows me to enjoy rich desserts and sweet treats sometimes.
I’m not saying I’m going to sit down and eat half of a cake every night after dinner, but I’m also not going to turn down my husband when he asks if I want to go out for some frozen yogurt or order our favorite hot fudge sundae.
To be totally honest, the hardest part about giving up dessert was dealing with other people.
- “Why aren’t you eating dessert?”
- “Why would you want to give up sweets?”
- “Oh please. You can have one cupcake. It won’t kill you.”
The eye rolling, the judging… it’s kind of ridiculous how much some people seem to care what other people eat.
This used to be something that really bothered me. I would feel insecure in these situations… especially when “food pushers” practically shove food down your throat after you’ve politely declined.
Fortunately I now feel much more secure about simply saying “No thank you, I’m fine,” without feeling the need to justify my lack of desire to indulge in rich food at every opportunity.
Sure I felt a little awkward and it wasn’t fun explaining why I gave up sweets every few days, but it made me appreciate the people who supported me and understood my decision even more. I also started to care less and less about the opinions of those who didn’t understand and tried to make me feel self conscious and uncomfortable about my Lenten resolution.
This may sounds like an odd parallel, but it also gave me a greater respect for vegetarians and vegans who likely deal with the opinions and snide comments of people regularly. It takes a lot to stand by something you believe when others may not understand, and I greatly admire those of you out there who have made commitments to certain diets in the name of something you whole-heartedly believe in.
So all that being said… Would I do it again? Sure! But I might make it a bit harder or clarify my boundaries more going into Lent because I almost felt like I was bending the rules a bit with some of my substitutions. Still, I made it and the ice cream I ate for breakfast yesterday tasted fantastic.
Questions of the Afternoon
- Have you ever felt judged for what you eat or choose not to eat?
- Does it bother you when someone questions your personal eating habits? How do you respond?