I started Lent on January 1. Why wait eight weeks to give up sweets, when I can start fresh for 2012. And why just 40 days- why not give up desserts, candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, cheesecake and all other sugar packed snacks for the entire year.
So I did and have, save for last week’s chocolate cake fiasco when I had to sample my unleavened cake. I don’t even count that as cheating, because that cake was as bland as it smelled.
With my sense of taste castrated, I am rendered to sample vicariously through my nose. That is leading to some awkward moments. Like at Mimi’s in January, when we had a semi-formal family dinner where we unveiled Lauren’s boyfriend to my aunt and uncle who questioned his existence. The table ordered Mimi’s exquisite, sinful desserts: peanut butter meltaway pie, Xiango, wild berry pie parfait, and hot fudge cake. I had coffee. Then I ordered each person to pass me their plate so I could inhale the decadence, salivate, and feel… okay as I pushed each plate back to its owner and ogled them devouring 1000 calories.
My mother has taken my sweet sabbatical to mean I am now anorexic. Sugar anorexic, I guess because I still eat a full plate at her Sunday dinners but stop short of the final course. My mom tends to be irrational at times. Like when I was young she told us kids to never drink milk with fish. Doing so would make us deathly sick. Then it occurred to me that at school, the cafeteria served milk with our fish sticks. I went home and shared this revelation. “It’s because they are breaded, that probably makes them safe,” she said. She also made me eat a teaspoon of sugar when I got hiccups. This too seemed pulled from the lair of scary housewife tales and did nothing but predispose me to diabetes. (Did you know Americans eat 22 teaspoons of sugar a day already!) Maybe that’s why Huntingdon County, PA has such an alarmingly high rate of the disease – nearly 10% of the population!
I am surprised that I don’t miss it much. Except for my co-worker’s jar of Goetz caramels that tempt each time I pass her desk en route to the communal coffee pot. And cinnamon hearts. I am a sucker for cinnamon hearts during Valentine season.
My sugar restriction has added pause to my life. When hunger strikes midday or at night, I purposefully think about what I am going to eat. The cookies on the counter are off limits. Instead I grab a tangerine or hummus on high bran crackers.
This pause is what I am striving for throughout my life this year. I have a relatively stressful job – of my own choosing because I have sadomasochistic tendencies. By nature I am an overachiever at work and that has tended to off-center my sense of self. I drift into making impulse decisions to quash the hourly fires and find the day’s precious hours nipped away by rote, mind-numbing tasks.
Distilling away the superfluous “sugar” from my life gives me a cleaner mind and forces me to center on what is important. And I might trim a few pounds along the way….