When I anticipate a new experience that I'm pretty sure will be unpleasant, I build it up as horrible in my mind. I imagine worst case scenarios to protect myself from whatever is coming. I don't do this deliberately, although it seems to serve me well- a defense mechanism of sorts. Child birth, public speaking, giving up processed sugar for 48 days are only a few of the occasions I seem to use this tactic for.
I thought giving up sugar would be excruciating. I imagined constant cravings, drop-down drag-out fights between the little (c'mon, we all have them) voices in my head and the real possibility that I would cave and fail. It wasn't that bad. At all. I had cravings, but they didn't become intense until the end because I was building things up in my mind in the opposite direction for a change. I was expecting this cathartic experience the first time I popped a piece of chocolate in my mouth and I couldn't wait.
The one thing that was as hard as I imagined was not participating in the social aspect of eating desserts and sweets. It wasn't the sweet that I wanted as much as I wanted to join in. To hum and fuss over the sugary desserts and treats with everyone else. But no, I sat there awkwardly, trying to smile and tell everyone it was okay as they apologized eating in front of me. I got used to that as time went on, but it hasn't become easy yet.
That is why I was happy to participate in dessert again on Easter Sunday. The actual sweets? They were delicious- no doubt about it. But the experience of eating sweets again did not live up to my expectations and confirmed what I learned during Lent. I don't need sweets. I can live without them. I was just as surprised as you are.
I tried a little experiment. I wondered if I allowed myself the freedom to eat the leftover sweets in the house if I would have an increase in control over myself, considering I had just spent 48 days in control. How did it go? I'm just going to come out and say it. I suck (pardon my language, please) at displaying control when it comes to sweets if I leave things open-ended for myself. I don't know why that is, but I have embarrassed myself with my behavior (once again) and it just solidified what I expected.
I can't do sugar on a regular basis.
So, I'm going back on the sugar-free wagon (as of yesterday). I will be allowing myself natural sugars (mainlt honey) and a day here and a day there of processed treats- on birthdays (not just anyone's birthday, mind you), Thanksgiving, a few days right over Christmas, if I ever get back to one of those fondue restaurants and the few times we make homemade ice cream over the summer.
I don't want to be fanatical. I want to follow a plan I can sustain. I want to be good to my body. I want the intelligent parts of my brain to make the decisions from now on instead of the areas that seem to have one thing in mind always- sweets.
I'm still collecting natural sugar recipes (Thank you, Aunt Anna- I did get yours!) and will be sharing the winners over the next few months as I try them out. I'm almost through Sugar Blues by William Duffy and will share my thoughts on that doozy-of-a-book as well.
So that's where I am. Where are you?