Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reflection on Lent: How I Felt Without Sweets for 40 Days

Easter is always an exciting time for me.  It reminds of us of Christ's death and resurrection to atone for our sins.  It's signifies new life--both in Christ, and in the coming of springtime.  Materialistically, it means I get to wear white shoes/pants/skirts until Labor Day (come on, Southern gals, I know you're excited about this, too!).  AND, this year, it meant that I could eat sweets again.
A post-Lent cookie
I decided to give up sweets for Lent for two reasons: it would help me eat more healthy, and they were really taking control of my life at the time.  Through the past 40+ days of not eating sweets, I really did learn a lot about God, myself, and my body.  I wanted to share those things with you today.

1. Life's a whole lot easier when you let God be in control.  When Lent started, food was in control of me.  My taste buds would dictate what I wanted, and I would constantly be trying to satisfy them.  However, when Lent began, I knew that I couldn't eat what I craved anymore.  So, I turned to prayer in those times.  I gave that over to God and asked for His help in controlling my desires.  Instead of letting food control me, I let God take over, and boy, what a difference that made!  In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I certainly experienced this when I tried the burden of food for the yoke of God.

2. I CAN have self-control.  I know that this was with God's help, but there were many times that I was around sweets and wasn't tempted at all.  The day after Lent began, there was a bowl of candy sitting right in front of me at a meeting full of fun-sized 3 Muskeeters (my favorite).  I knew I couldn't have it, I told myself that, and I just looked away from it the entire time.  My mouth didn't water as it normally would have in the presence of the candy.  There were also times when people offered me cake or other desserts after dinner parties, and I didn't feel tempted or disappointed when others around me were eating their treats.  God certainly showed me through these 40 days that self-control IS a fruit of the Spirit that I can demonstrate.

3. The mind is a powerful thing.  This may go along with self-control, but I witnessed the power of my mind during these 40 days.  I had it in my head that I couldn't have any sweets, and my body didn't seem to want them.  I never had any cravings for anything!  I know this was God working in me, and it's amazing what He enables our minds to do.

4. My body felt better.  I noticed that I wasn't as tired in the morning as when I was eating something sweet every day.  I felt a little lighter and thinner.  I noticed a positive difference in how I felt while exercising.  Overall, I just felt better when I wasn't eating sweets.

5.  I've learned to want other healthier snacks instead.  Now, I actually WANT carrot sticks, sliced peppers, or roasted chickpeas as a snack or "dessert" instead of something sweet.  I haven't gone home in the afternoon thinking, "The only thing that will satisfy me right now is something sweet."  THAT is a big difference from before.

6.  On the negative side, I think I did look for a replacement for sweets.  Unfortunately, I feel like one of the reasons I had so much success with this is because I turned to something else at some times: alcohol.  There were a few weeks where I'd have a glass or two of wine every evening during the week.  It's not uncommon for me to have some wine one or two week days, but Joe even noticed the frequency of my wine-drinking.  Once he and I talked about it, I realized I was replacing sweets with wine and consciously stopped doing it.  

Overall, though, this was a very positive experience for me.  The big question now: is this a permanent change?  The answer is no.  In fact, this week alone I've had something sweet every day.
These were a big part of my food intake on Monday
While I don't plan on cutting out sweets all together, I do plan to cut down on the amount of sweets I eat on a weekly basis.  It's hard to completely cut something out of your diet in a healthy way (note my turning to wine).  So, I'm going to start next week by limiting myself to eating something sweet 3x during the week.  I see that as completely manageable to start out with.  If I do well with that, I may adjust that as needed.  I also want to exhibit self-control in the amount of sweets I eat in one sitting (i.e. not eat a whole movie-theater-candy box of Bottle Caps in one sitting). 

So, that was a really long post with very few pictures, but I wanted to get all of my thoughts out on this topic.  If you stayed through it this long, thank you!  Here's a cute Tequila picture to reward you :)
She turns her head whenever we ask a adorable!
Tomorrow's post will be a lot lighter, I promise!

Question for you: If you gave up something for Lent, how did you do?  What's something that you need to work on doing in moderation?


  1. I didn't give anything up for Lent- something I've tried to do is replace some of the candy I eat (I was really eating far more than what i consider "moderation" with extra blackberries. They are sweet but have some nutrients too!)

    1. That's a great idea! I love blackberries :)