For the past few months, I debated observing Lent for the first time in my life. Since I wasn’t raised in a catholic church, I didn’t even know people gave things up until I went to college. People gave up all kinds of things, like chocolate, 7th Heaven, posting to Xanga (the cool blog at the time), and swearing.
Other people vowed to do things every day of Lent, like go to Sunday evening services, have quiet times, etc. Regardless, everyone was making some sort of sacrifice either out of guilty Christian habit, or because they possessed a sincere desire to be intimate with God – to abandon something that was lord of their life and shouldn’t have been.
Inside my mind, a nonverbal tug-of-war played out. Good LB would encourage me to give up sugar and white flour; Bad LB told me I was just setting myself up for failure. Well, I am happy to say that it’s been nearly a week and I have maintained my pact to God to give up sugar and white flour.
My first morning, I discovered that all of my quick work morning breakfast fixes contained sugar, so I scrambled some eggs and added a little Laughing Cow cheese at the end. Wow. I definitely recommend taking the extra time to consume protein at the beginning of the day. It will change your life.
The white flour part is pretty easy overall. On the whole (no pun intended), I choose wheat breads, brown rice, and whole wheat tortillas. Checking packages has been a challenge because it’s a real eye-opener. Does enriched wheat flour count? I googled it and it says that enriched flour—even wheat—could have possibly been white flour originally, but either way, they strip it of its nutrients and then add some extra ingredients to make it “enriched.” This stuff is found in pretty much everything processed – even whole wheat saltines, whole wheat goldfish, and other things you buy to convince yourself you’re making a healthy choice for your body.
Sugar has been an entirely different ordeal. It sneaks up on me in the most unusual places. Ketchup, chicken stock, Lean Cuisines, tomato soup, wheat bread from the store, and the absolute worst secret sugar source in my life: PEANUT BUTTER. I’ve made cornbread, ketchup, and spaghetti sauce from scratch so far. Sugar-free chocolate pudding has been my lifeline when I have a craving for sweets, but I am trying to avoid aspartame and high-fructose corn syrup when I can.
JT gave up chocolate for Lent, but he did have a nice, creamy serving of bread pudding at a fundraiser dinner we went to, and that’s pretty much been the only time I’ve suffered. I found that one of my favorite cereals is sweetened with evaporated cane juice instead of sugar – and it didn’t leave my milk sugary and yellow from the artificial flavorings in other cereals. Also, Kashi waffles are sweetened with the same, so we had a nice breakfast for dinner last night.
On the whole, I have noticed significant changes in my life. For one, I feel better. There are no mid-morning and mid-afternoon carb crashes. My hunger has reduced considerably: my stomach tells me I am hungry instead of my brain and mouth controlling my urges. My pants fit better because I think my water weight has gone down. I am more conscious about checking labels. I think I really want to maintain this lifestyle even after Lent is over. As far as spiritually, I haven’t really felt a sense of sacrifice throughout this experience, but there’s still plenty of time and plenty of lessons God wants to teach me, I’m sure!
I will keep you updated.