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Day One: Breakfast

Day One: Breakfast

March 5, 2014
Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins from The 21-Day Sugar Detox

I don’t plan to publish photos of everything I eat for the entire duration of Lent; it feels a little off to publish just one photo on one of the few true fast days observed in the Episcopal Church. But today I’m feeling a little self-obsessed. (And the muffins are really good, too!) This always happens when I fast: I think, think, think. I think about whatever I’m ‘releasing’ for the time period (all food, criticism in thought or speech, fiction, sugar, meat) — like, this morning on my way home from the dentist I really wished I had time to stop at a coffee house and read a little bit of Nick Hornby’s Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade of Soaking in Great Books; of course, then I thought about how coffee houses aren’t just about coffee, they’re about the hot beverage, plus the matching croissant or pecan bun or (my favorite, as Magi knows) some nice little lemon cake. Thought: “I only just discovered the first decent croissant I’ve had in the entire decade I’ve lived on the East coast!!! I should’ve had two!” And those thoughts are generally followed by thoughts about how fasting causes me to be self-obsessed so it’s probably a stupid thing to do, and besides, I’m sure I’m really trying to lose weight . . . . Those thoughts will settle down, if my experience over the past 20 years is any gauge. And then they’ll pop up again.

Here’s how the Book of Common Prayer invites us all “to the observation of a holy Lent,” in the Ash Wednesday service, a good primer on the disciplines of Lent:

“Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentant and faith.

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.” BCP, 264-265

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“Is this a Lent thing, or is this a diet thing?”

March 4, 2014
My good friend Liz asked me this question the other day: “OK, is this a Lent thing, or is it a diet thing?” Her question inspired this blog.

A few months ago I decided to quit sugar during Lent. Which begins on Ash Wednesday. Tomorrow.

“Giving something up” was my childhood Lent. And, like New Year’s resolutions, the shelf-life was pretty short. Adult Lent is about stripping away that which is unnecessary, clearing out a little space in my head, heart and body; adult Lent usually means some sort of additional spiritual discipline rather than getting rid of something.

But this year’s decision to spend a sugar-free Lent (free of a bunch of other things, too, as it turns out, at least for the first three weeks) is motivated more by spiritual impulse than an impulse to improve my health, look great, lose weight, etc. Sure, I’d like to be healthy, look good, maintain a healthy weight; but that’s not why I’m engaging in my sugar fast.

I’m addicted to sugar. I’ve been addicted to more harmful substances, so I understand addiction. And my working definition of addiction, at least this Lent, is “anything that diverts my attention from God,” or “anything that distracts me from what’s real.” Sugar has become a major distraction in my life.

For the first three weeks, I’m using a plan, The 21-Day Sugar Detox program; there’s a book, and a Facebook page, and it seems like a wholesome, sensible way to do this. Plus, it gives me a to-do list every day, which is good. This is scary for me; I’m afraid I’ll feel terrible and be cranky and find out that I don’t trust God. The antidote, as I see it, is to jump in and do it. Lots of planning, prayer, and as much presence as I can muster. (My husband Magi reminds me that failing to plan means I’m planning to fail; so cliche . . . so true! So I’m doing a lot of planning.) Mainly, though, I want to pay attention to my body; pay attention to my heart; pay attention to my thoughts.