Hmmph. Fill in the blank with the name of your friendly neighborhood blogger here. This morning I was cheerful and optimistic. This evening I’m grumpy and pessimistic, especially after reading one of those potentially pseudoscientific articles about eating and wondering if everything is meaningless.
But I press on.
It’s only the third day of this fast, but I feel as if I’ve already learned so much about how problematic my relationship to sugar—and food—is. I catch myself thinking that a cup of tea, a chapter of a book, an evening spent playing games with friends, would all be made more pleasurable by something sweet.
When I’m feeling a little down, what have I done? Written a sonata? No. I’ve reached for some Ghirardelli. (Raspberry Dark Chocolate, to be specific, but please don’t send me any. I might cry.)
These last few days have been filled with nothing short of temptation. All at once, sugar is everywhere.
Do you know how many things in the grocery store contain sugar? Let me enlighten you. Almost everything. It’s both discouraging and frightening. It is, in fact, a conspiracy. (I don’t know if it actually is, but someone ought at least to look into it the possibility.)
It wasn’t just the grocery store. Besides the temptation of all of the sugar that is (mostly) hidden around our apartment, Pinterest is assailing me with emails like “Copycat recipes for your favorite candy bars.” Et tu, Brute, when I have pinned so many healthy recipes?
And so many unhealthy recipes, as anybody who peeks at my Pinterest page could tell you. It isn’t Pinterest’s fault. It’s mine. My own former sugar-loving, sugar-crazy self. I’m Brutus. Pinterest is only trying to be helpful. Its algorithm says something like, “Hmm. I see you’ve lately pinned ten different recipes for variations on Chocolate Cake and one recipe for How-To-Make-Salad-Taste-Like-Something-Else, and since you appear to prefer pins with the tag ‘dessert,’ I’ll send you emails accordingly.”
It’s a sad day when you realize that it’s you who’s getting in the way of you.
But, on a more positive note, and to go back to the grocery store—it really wasn’t too bad. I only wept for a few moments as we put broccoli and cauliflower and green beans and carrots and other delightfully healthy things into our cart.
After all, this challenge is as much about building good habits as it is about breaking bad ones; otherwise there wouldn’t be much point. And I have a lot of bad habits related to sugar. As I mentioned above, I crave it when alone, when with other people, when feeling sad or bored or distracted… Basically All. The. Time. I did, however, have a revelation at about four o’ clock this afternoon (hence the cheerful-turned-grumpy mood.) I realized I’m usually pretty good about eating healthy in the morning and at lunchtime—it’s night-time that’s the trouble. I save all the sugar-snacking for when I’m not working and can relax. (I say “usually” because the holidays were an exception.) This revelation meant that all of the pats on the back I’d been mentally giving myself for doing so well and going so long without thinking about sweets weren’t worth very much because it wasn’t my sweet-eating time yet.
I’ve even eaten sugar when I didn’t really want it. There were definitely times right before Christmas and the week after—when my diet was 80% sugar, 10% salty snacks, and 10% food that would actually keep me alive for longer than seven years—that I wondered why I was still eating more sugar when the thought of it made me squeamish. I ate it anyway. Because I could. Because it was there. Because somebody had paid for it, and wasn’t it a tragedy to let a pow wittle piece of marzipan go to waste? I didn’t even stop after I got a pretty bad cold, the remnants of which are not yet unstuck. Probably because of my insistence on eating chocolate for breakfast.
Enough about bad habits. It’s all very well to recite my failings—it is necessary in order to move forward, but wallowing in regret never did anybody any good. (Except for all of those wallowers who provided the world with beautiful music and poetry and prose out of that regret, but that’s another matter—and productivity isn’t wallowing, anyway, in some sense.) So today to continue beginning good habits, instead of chocolate for breakfast, I had whole wheat puff cereal. No, not the kind that has added sugar, the kind that doesn’t. Yes. It exists. It only tasted a little bit like sawdust. Homemade soup for lunch and a hearty(ish) salad for dinner rounded out the day nicely, and left me feeling… Accomplished. Not full, but happy that the eating part was over, and that a tiny sliver of a good habit was tacked onto the previous two tiny slivers of Days 1 and 2.
I do want to take this opportunity to build more good habits outside of the realm of eating (and realms are never islands unto themselves) that involve using more of my time productively. I won’t promise you any sonatas (ha!), but I do hope to re-focus on writing and reading. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me soon as to how that’s going. 😉
Addendum #1: You know what the difference is between a fast and a feast? Just a little “e.” But he makes every bit of difference, that little “e.” Curse him.
Addendum #2: I’m only going slightly crazy, I assure you, and mainly because I’ve been repeating to myself over and over again idiotic aphorisms like “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and “Baby steps.” Ahem. 3 days down, 29 to go.