Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What's Lent Got To Do With It?

I really try to keep the tone of my posts light and funny. But this is serious business. Seriously.

We gave up fructose and anything with added sugar over a miniscule amount for Lent.   It sounds easy until you realize that it means giving up almost all processed foods.  Because it is so challenging, it has been easy during this endeavor for me to become consumed with the experiment and lose sight of the goal.

The purpose of a "Lenten Sacrifice" is to give up a vice or to improve a virtue. The idea is to sacrifice something you hold dear or to do something to improve yourself in a spiritual way. The length of Lent is 40 days, and that is not an insignificant number. It's the same number of days that Jesus spent fasting alone in the desert in commune with God to discover who he was and what his place was in the world.


As a result, we, too, are supposed to use the opportunity of Lent as a period of self discovery and to come closer to God. It should be hard. In fact, this year, I wanted it to be really hard.  I didn't want my Lenten sacrifice to be just a reinstatement of a New Year's resolution gone awry.

Those are not my feet.

My Lenten sacrifice is is definitely the giving up of a vice.   Even though I didn't eat sugar in mass quantities before Lent, I ate enough of it that it was bad for my health.   And, I wanted dessert everyday . . . in a bad way . . . sometimes multiple times per day.  



I blame my sons' previous school for instilling in them the notion that every meal ends in dessert. And, of course, as I was dishing out their desserts every night after dinner, I got into the bad habit of treating myself as well. And, so began a cycle of gluttony.  What was once an infrequent treat had become an every day occurrence.


The question that I have been repeatedly asked is "what happens after the 40 days end?" If I had given up something like smoking cigarettes or beating my children, obviously you would expect me to carry it on past Easter because starting up again would be just plain stupid.

However, because I gave up something as trivial as a food group (and something that I love so much), it is a more complicated question.  Usually when people give up chocolate, dessert, soda, and other indulgences, they look forward to Good Friday when they can once again gorge themselves on chocolate rabbits, carrot cake, or two-liter bottles of coke. And then, more often than not, the whole thing is forgotten until next year when they wonder "Gee, what did I give up last year?"

But, it seems to me that if I simply return to my wiley, pre-Lenten ways, then what was the point of all the self discovery and bad-habit-breaking? Why do it at all if it's not life changing? I think perhaps there was no point to it all.

So what will I do?  This "experiment" has changed my relationship with food. It has reminded me that food is merely fuel. And while it can be savory and enjoyable, my body is my temple and should be treated as such.   Put in more familiar Jenni-speak, if all I do is put trash into my body, then that's all I should expect out of it.  And so, I think I will continue on this course with some slight modification. 

My plan is to add fruit back into my diet. . . in moderation.  Likely, I will eat 1-2 servings of fruit per day and try to stick to low-fructose fruit - kiwi, blueberries, and raspberries. 

That will be my plan.   And, I will enjoy  dessert . . . occasionally . . . when there is something to celebrate . . . even if it is just to celebrate that it is a Saturday night out with friends . . . or to celebrate a day at Sea World with these guys:


Of course . . . Easter Sunday is a celebration, too.  I mean, after all, it is a celebration of God's greatest gift to us.  Seems to me that Easter should be given the respect that it deserves and be adequately celebrated.  And so, I guess that I should have some sort of sweet treat to celebrate Easter and the end of Lent.  I think, I already know what I have in mind:

However, this is no ordinary cookie.  It is the holy trinity of cookies:  cookie dough, chocolate chips, and Oreo cookies.  Of course, that could be the mutterings of the devil on my shoulder.

In the mean time, here is what I ate today:

breakfast:  omelet with zucchini, kale, and
weight watchers jalapeno spreadable cheese
whole wheat English muffin with cashew butter

two cups of breakfast coffee with coconut milk and Stevia

same old, same old lunch:
mixed greens salad with mushrooms,
chicken, feta, zucchini, cherry tomatoes,
sugar-free tomato-basil dressing,
baby carrots, crackers, and hummus

afternoon snack:
air popped popcorn with
zero calorie spray butter
and salt and vinegar popcorn seasoning

dinner at my parents' house:
Mazzio's Greek pizza with chicken, olives, pepperocinis,
mozzarella, and tomatoes (no sauce)
[to be honest, I ate almost twice the amount shown]

side salad with zero sugars lime-cilantro dressing

Total calories for the day: 1580.  Sugars:  9g.  And, I really blew out the fat with that pizza:  82 g.



  1. I'm proud of you two! I think that if you can incorporate what you've learned and make some switches in things, then you've automatically made yourself healthier and ready to keep taking on the world!
    You've inspired some changes in my own diet too!