Easter Sunday is finally upon us. Here, some lenten reflections on giving up dessert (to be defined below), the dietary changes that ensued, and why I won’t (likely EVER) stop eating sugar. The experience may surprise you.
“If you can put whipped cream on it, it counts as dessert.” This wisdom from my good friend Dave Sherotski served as my guiding principle while giving up dessert during lent. And it seemed like a pretty good rule of thumb: Cap’n Crunch was still in, hot fudge sundaes were most definitely out. Pop Tarts? Unfortunately, out - not because you could maybe or maybe not enjoy them dipped in Cool Whip, but just on some sort of principle.
As I sit down for some serious lenten reflections, I’d like to do so in complete transparency. So here’s what happened over the past (almost) forty days:
-The night before Ash Wednesday, I ate about half of the sweets left in my house. Complete panic mode led to - let’s call it what it is - a binge that included Pop Tarts (naturally), Crunchie bars (the one loner I had left from an amazing Christmas present), and a Devil Dog (that my husband so thoughtfully procured, reminiscing on our pre-parenting days of bodega runs in the Bronx). Surprisingly I didn’t feel disgusting, but I felt a slight sense of dread in facing the next day.
-Muffins? Those don’t really count, right? Of course not. So I went on a tear of baking (mostly) nutrient-dense ones for a week straight under the guise of them being convenient for aforementioned husband to take to work. I tried making them with honey, (substitutions: another reason why I won’t stop eating sugar), decided they left much to be desired, and caved with a bit of brown sugar on subsequent batches. Although tasty, this is all pretty silly within the context of me not being someone who eats a whole lot of muffins on a regular basis.
-OK, so…what’s for dessert then? Being so accustomed to closing out a meal with something sweet, these lenten reflections have brought me to this conclusion: I’m dissatisfied (i.e. LOST) without the promise of a proper ending to my meal. This reared its ugly head the first Sunday of Lent, watching my daughter go in an ice cream sundae while I made pleasant conversation with my in-laws. The solution was clearly to stop for beef empanadas on the way home. I think my exact words were: “I need an empanada or I’m going to stab someone.” A similar (albeit slightly less threatening) occasion popped up a couple of weeks later, when I allowed Mr. Rodriguez to cajole me into an order of Philly Cheesesteak Rolls at a bar - after a legitimately lovely dinner at our favorite local restaurant. Skipping dessert made me do it! And once again, this is why I won’t stop eating sugar.
-The next phase: realizing I need some kind of “after dinner treat” that could be passed off as a healthy something or other. Now, I swore I’d never be one of those people who gets into “energy bites” or whatever else the kids are calling them these days. Who has two thumbs and was whipping them up like a pro for a week straight? This gal. I was selling them, boxing them up as gifts to friends (“look! Healthy truffles! I swear it’s still me!”), and…consuming half a dozen of them a day. Show me someone who can eat one of those things in a sitting. Really, I’ll wait. In an odd twist of fate, my entire family came down with a stomach virus shortly thereafter, and now the thought of an energy bite nauseates me. Lenten reflection: crack-like calorie bombs masquerading as dessert are another reason why I won’t stop eating sugar.
-Finally, as predicted, I turned to cereal after dinner. Is there anything inherently wrong with this? Absolutely not! Is going back for a second and third bowl of a Cap’n Crunch/Lucky Charms/Blueberry Cheerios trifecta on a nightly basis the best strategy for health? Possibly not. This is the one habit that most resembles my day-to-day life (as opposed to eating muffins), but I’d rather have a bit of cereal pre-workout and something calorie-controlled and covered in chocolate (like a candy bar) for dessert. Kid’s cereal (shhh…I tell my four year old it’s actually adult cereal so she’ll continue to select Raisin Bran when given a choice) is yet another reason why I won’t stop eating sugar.
Toward the end of the season, I mentioned skipping dessert to a friend with whom I usually partake. He said, “oh, that’s probably a good health thing.” Upon these lenten reflections, I couldn’t disagree more. While giving up dessert was a true sacrifice (clearly a luxury that I love), it was anything but healthy - and I expected this to be the case. Sugar is not the devil, and your health is built on sustainable habits. For the rest of my life to work - eating reasonably, devoting maximum effort to strength training, and maintaining a weight at which I feel comfortable - I NEED to be able to enjoy dessert on a nightly basis. And that’s why I won’t stop eating sugar.
I hope you all have a joyful Easter or Passover. Starting tonight, I’m going on a kick of forty desserts for forty days, and I’m starting at Stewart’s. Oh, and I’ll most definitely be enjoying some Easter chocolate. Essentially, a return to my regular eating habits.
Did you sacrifice something for Lent? Tell me in the comments!
Enjoy your food - including dessert! Enjoy your life!