Friday, March 9, 2012

Things I've Learned By Giving Up Sugar - So Far...

We are 17 days into Lent which also means I have been on a "no added sugar diet" for 17 days! It has certainly been a challenge but I have already learned so much about myself and food I can honestly say I kind of look forward to the next 23 days.

By "no added sugar" I mean I do not eat food that has sugar in any form added to it. I eat fruit and vegetables where sugar is found naturally. I can eat any protein and I eat dairy as well as whole grain pasta (although I am trying to limit my pasta to just once a week at most and am also trying to not fill up on dairy). One of the first things I had to learn was to read labels. The Mayo Clinic's website was very helpful in listing all the forms of sugar and names for sugar. If a label has any of these listed as ingredients I don't eat it.

I have been surprised by a lot. I have been surprised at just how many foods out there that have sugar in some form added to them. I dare say the majority of processed foods have sugar added to them. Other than the obvious "sweets" I don't eat any bread or anything with bread or bread crumbs. That means no pizza because sugar of course is in the crust. I mention pizza specifically because I think Ed was more astonished by the idea of me going 40 days without pizza than the whole sugar thing. Nothing with honey, corn syrup and no artificial sweeteners (which I do not personally like anyway and have always stayed away from). Most jarred, canned or packaged seasonings, broths, stocks and sauces all have sugar added to them. The list goes on.

On a side note, did you realize that canned tomato sauce is more than just tomato sauce? I have never thought to read the labels of canned tomato sauce but sure enough bell pepper, onion and other seasonings are in most cans of tomato sauce. I just expected the label on the can to say "seasoned" or something of that nature if it was anything more than tomato!

I have also been surprised at the things that don't have sugar added to them. For example, regular ol' Goldfish crackers have sugar BUT the whole grain ones do not. Also, I can't have flour tortillas for tacos or fajitas but corn chips and the crunchy taco shells don't have sugar added.

The first week was the roughest. I am not sure I can even describe in words just exactly what it was like. I'm pretty sure my kids and husband could tell you in a few words what I was like to be around though!  I was irritable, cranky, short-tempered and impatient. All because I was denying myself sugar. One week into Lent I hit my low point (at least I'm hoping it was my low point!) That Wednesday afternoon I was tired and just in an all around bad mood. I was craving, seriously craving, some coffee with my yummy sweetened creamer and a blueberry muffin. I wanted those two things so badly I felt like I was going to scream. The bottle of creamer was just staring at me from the refrigerator shelf, taunting and tempting me. I would look in the pantry and my eyes would go directly to the Hostess blueberry muffins or even the cereal.

"No one will know if I have just one cup of sweetened coffee."
"Everyone gives in one little time, right?"
"It's okay to mess up this one little time. God will forgive me."

It was rough. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I wanted to scream and cry all at once. And yes, all because I couldn't have sugar. Isn't that terrible? I had no idea I would experience such withdrawal symptoms by giving up sugar. I am so happy I did not cave to the temptation though. I finally was able to collect myself enough to know I needed some quiet time alone. I gave the girls a snack and turned on the television. I went to my bedroom and sat on my bed and sighed. 

Actually first I had gone to the computer to print off some "but God" verses Lysa TerKeurst had posted on her website but my printer was acting up and after two failed attempts I decided to write down the scriptures and look them up myself. Now I can see that this is what God wanted me to do in the first place. He didn't want me to just read through a printed piece of paper quoting scripture. He wanted me to be in His word, looking it up and reading it for myself. And that's what I did. I sat and looked up each and every single one of the 20 verses and wrote them down in my Made to Crave Bible study notebook. This gave me the opportunity to really take in the words and the meanings of these verses. 

Here are a couple of my favorite "but God" verses I read that day:

Psalm 73:26
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Matthew 19:26
"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Those were very powerful words that I desperately needed to hear and know that afternoon. 

My Bible has in the back different reading plans to guide you through your reading. One of these plans is 30 Days of Promises. I browsed through the listing and the one about facing temptation caught my eye.

1 Corinthians 10:13
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

This verse comforted me  that day and comforts me still when I am facing temptation of any kind. God promises us we will not face anything that we can not bear. And I love that it said "when you are tempted" - not if but when. In this life we will face many temptations, but "God is faithful" and "he will also provide a way out". 

Before I knew it I had spent almost an hour in my room reading through His word, journalling and praying.  Yes, miraculously my girls let me have an hour to myself in my room without interrupting at all! At the end of the hour I was no longer feeling on the edge.

This journey I decided to take is still not easy but no day or moment has been nearly as difficult as that first week. Maybe some of that is because my body has gotten over that initial sugar withdrawal but I think it has way more to do with the peace God's word gave me that day  and gives me daily during my quiet time with Him.

When I started this post it was just to simply list some fun and interesting things I have learned and share some of my favorite new recipes I have discovered in the past 17 days but I guess God had other intentions for it because my fingers were typing in a totally different direction than my mind had planned on going!

I will still share some of the recipes in a later post but I guess the most important thing I have learned so far in this process is how to really, truly go to God with even the little things, like being upset and angry about not having sugar! 

When I saw Lysa TerKeurst speak a few weeks ago one of the things she said that has stuck with me was that when our strength ends, God's strength steps in! We have to just bring a little bit of willingness, whether it is to eat better, exercise more, even change careers or go into a new ministry, and God will do the rest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am proud of you. I know that it has not been easy for you. I know that you are getting closer to God through this sacrifice.