Thursday, December 30, 2010

12/30/10: Sugar as Idolatry

Yesterday's food:

12/29/10: Bed at 11 pm/up at 9 am
Egg white
Tea with creamer
Swiss steak
Sweet potatoes
*Cookies (x 7)
Water (x 4 c)
Skim milk (1/2 c)

Heavy title, no? It occurred to me, even before I formally renewed my Christian baptismal vows this time last year, that being so attached to sugar was a form of idolatry.

Me: "Hmmm . . . God's will or sugar? OK, I'll take "sugar," Alex, for 400 points."

Sugar wins out every time. It's always at the top of my "pyramid" in life from which all other things flow (pretty messed up, huh?), and this is the pattern I'm attempting to interrupt this coming year.

I recently tried to explain my relationship with sugar to someone else. It went like this: Sugar is like a part of myself that is mistakenly on the outside of me, "sugarectomized" in some way, like I'm missing an internal organ, and it feels life-threateningly important that I get it on the inside of me. I feel bereft, empty, and almost lonely when I think of being around sugar and not being able to eat it. Now, intellectually I know that not eating sugar won't kill me, but it feels that way. It is definitely a compulsion; I can't not eat sugar (sorry for the double negative) if I'm anywhere near it. I lose all measure of self-control.

An old spiritual mentor of mine, Reenie, once said to me, "Sweetie, it's not about being in or out of control. It's about being under [God's] control." She didn't have to say the word "God" (hence the brackets)  because I already knew who she meant. And that's the key: To accept my powerlessness over eating sugar compulsively and turn it over to my Higher Power, whom I choose to call "God."

This experiment will be worked one day at a time under God's control, in His time and in His way. I'm just going along for the ride. Would you like to come along?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

12/29/10: Crazy Love

Yesterday's food:

12/28/10: Bed at 10:30 pm/up at 8 am
*Mini spice drops (~ 20)
Tea with creamer
Egg white
*Chobani Greek yogurt
*4 cookies
Nightfood bar
Skim milk (1/2 c)
Filet roast leftovers w/ gray
Sweet potatoes
Broccoli salad
Milk (1/2 c skim)
4 c water (including tea)

My church's adult Bible study recently read the book, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan. I've never attended Bible study class regularly, but I was psyched for this book to be discussed. I ended up making only about a third of the classes but read the book on my own. It wasn't overly smarmy or pious, thank God, and although as a writer and editor I would have changed some things, the content resonated with me such that Chan's words run through my mind at least several times a week, if not more often. The biggest idea that caught my heart was the sheer extravagance of my lifestyle compared with that of the world's neediest people (and I currently earn near the poverty level [and have for several years], just to give you an idea of my "extravagance" . . . not). I've spent so much of my life looking after myself (re: raised by an alcoholic father and all that that brings; having lupus along with depression, a handicap, stroke, and cancer; being single, i.e., no helpmeet) that I've never thought much about what I can give back to my community, let alone the world. I have sponsored a little girl in Bolivia for the past 8 years or so, but that's about it. But reading Crazy Love has changed my mind (structurally I think). I now pray every morning to see opportunities where I can give, and every morning I ask God how I can love Him. According to the Bible, that would be loving "the least of these." I live in a fairly affluent neighborhood of Pennsylvania, so I don't see the "least" population often. Or ever, really. So I would have to put myself in such an environment to carry out God's wishes, and that scares me, mostly because of my handicap and being relatively defenseless. But then I'm not trusting God, am I?

That Crazy Love could make such an impact on me, and that I even would want to go to adult Bible study in the first place, is a reflection of the degree of being "present" and open that I get from not eating sugar (or, at least until the coming experiment, having limited my consumption of it).

Have a good night (or whatever time of day you read this).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

12/28/10: I'm Completely Bloatto . . .

Yesterday's food:

12/27/10: Bed at 11 pm/up at 7 am
*Hershey Kiss (x 1)
*Chocolate-covered pretzel (x 1)
Tea with creamer
Egg white
*7 cookies
Brown rice
Corn and veggie mix
4 c water (including tea)
*Mini spice gumdrops (1/2 pound)
Meatballs (x 2)
Brussels sprouts
Skim milk (1/2 c)

As for today's post title, do you remember (or know of) the phrase, "completely blotto"? It refers to being completely drunk, and that's how I get when I'm around sugar (the spelling "bloatto" is a play on words, LOL). In fact, I started today with . . . sugar. Mini spice drops to be exact. Only about 20, but still disgusting. I might as well have started the day with a stiff Scotch (and I don't mean a cute man in a kilt, LOL). I had them leftover from yesterday; I woke up with sugar on my  mind; I remembered the spice drops; and I rolled directly into my home office and ate 20 or so before I bade them good-bye down the Insikerator. That was a pretty extreme measure for me, to obliterate candy like that. Normally I think about disposing of it as I polish it off and then commence grazing on other sugar-laden forms of poison (for me, that is) throughout the day. Today I didn't do that as much, which is a testament to God's saving grace and nothing else. Although it probably helps that I had almost nothing of a sugary nature in the house. On purpose.

However, I also blew off my God time this morning, which is a direct reflection of having eaten candy yesterday. I know my pattern, and total abstinence is the only answer if I want to meet the goal of having a closer relationship with God. And what would that look like for me? I would more purposefully, and more often, seek His company, read His Word, and act it out; I would more often take life with a grain (or two) of faith; and I would be able to better discern His will for me because my channel would be more clear such that our communication could travel back and forth more readily. Does that make sense?

I'm glad I strive to live my life one day at a time because it means that I can start over again tomorrow without beating myself up for mistakes I made today. I know the actual experiment doesn't begin until January 1, 2011, but I'd rather start off somewhat clean. Actually, if I don't have sugar for a few days, the cravings pretty much go away. But in my insanity, I keep thinking (during those brief sugar-free periods) that my addiction will go away. But it doesn't, and since doing the same thing over and over again is the definition of "insane," that makes me an addict and insane, LOL. And fat. Not a pretty sight at all!

Looking forward to talking with you tomorrow :-)

Monday, December 27, 2010

12/27/10: Damn the Last Hurrah

First things first. Here is yesterday's food:
12/26/10: Bed at 5 am this morning/up at 1:10 pm
*Iced coconut bar Luna bar (1/2)
1 apple
Brown rice
Corn & veggie mix
Tea w/ creamer
*Chocolate-covered pretzels (x 3)
*Hershey Kisses (x 3)
Filet roast with gravy
Sweet potatoes
Broccoli salad
Crystal Light (3/4 c)
Popcorn (handful)
Skim milk (1/2 c)
5 c water (including tea)
My weight this week = a whopping 172.6 pounds (I'm only 5'2") 

Ugh. I've been feasting on mini spice drops since about 5 pm this afternoon ( a "last hurrah," if you will), and I can already feel the self-loathing, as well as the fuzziness, lethargy, inertia, and general "F"-it-all (i.e., this project) attitude, creep in to my mind and spirit. This is about the time I would usually scrap all ideas of abstaining from sugar and give up. Except this time I made a commitment to the God in me, and I'm determined to keep it.

And this is how sugar works a number on my soul and connection with God. It's a lying vampire that sucks my spirit -- my deep desire to know and be with, to be in, God -- and invites me to abandon myself, my connection with God, and my recovery. I say "recovery" because I consider myself to be a sugar addict. My late father was an alcoholic, and alcohol is almost nothing but sugar once in the body, so this apple didn't fall far from the tree. I'm different only in the fact that I prefer to "mainline" my drug of choice by eating pure sugar in the first place, LOL.

And so my story really begins. Hope to see you tomorrow :-) I refuse to give up no matter how hard this gets.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

12/26/10: Not Aiming to be Anal

It's important that I don't get too anal with listing my food because I've tried to go off sugar before and haven't been successful. In part because I was compulsive about it, which is also how I eat. And because I've always done it with a "how-do-I-look" end in mind, which is always a set-up because that's not a worthy goal for me personally. This effort needs to be for something bigger than myself now, and since I'm single without spring-offs (by choice), it must be for God and our relationship because everything about me and my life grows from that connection. Improving that connection = improving my life. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

To that end, I'm revising one of my rules: I'm not going to write down the amount of what I eat everyday, unless, again, that practice leads me to eat sugar, etc. So, you'll be able to read what I ate the previous day but not the amount I ate. My primary and only aim this year is to abstain from sugar et al.

I also forgot to tell you that I generally stay away from sugary vegetables, such as corn, beets, carrots, etc. However, I'm not going to be super hard on myself about following that this coming year. I'm already restricted on the amount of green vegetables I can eat each day because I'm on a blood thinner for a history of lupus-related stroke (2006), and I need to eat more veggies than I already so, so hence the break during this experiment. If I get too anal about this project, I will fail. The usual caveats apply.

Yesterday I put an eBay bid on the book Good to the Grain: Baking With Whole-Grain Flours, by Kim Boyce. I read about it in the November 2010 issue of "Whole Living" magazine and it looked really good. It's not a gluten-free recipe book, but I'm going to experiment with substituting with gluten-free flours/sugar substitutes and see what I come up with. I'm conducting an experiment here, not flaying myself for the entire year!

Last, because mood has come upon me (great Irish phrase) to start writing down what I eat, so you'll be able to see that information starting tomorrow instead of waiting until January 1, 2011.
Come on along and keep me company!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

12/25/10: Pre-Inspired

Almost a new year, my first blog, and my first post. I was inspired last night, while watching "Eat Pray Love," to begin my own journey in developing a closer relationship with the God of my understanding. I already know that consuming both white sugar, white flour, and white rice blocks my "channel" with God, and I'm ripe for a better relationship with Him -- better discernment, better obedience -- so I feel in my gut (where I'm most likely to hear God) that 2011 the year for this "experiment."

My plan is to eliminate white sugar and white flour from my diet and to blog about how doing do affects my spiritual growth, awareness, and action in the world. Basically, this blog will be about how my entire personal "universe" changes in the process.

My self-imposed rules for this experiment are as follows:

1. No white sugar and no white flour among the first five ingredients of the ingredient list (because I'm a compulsive sugar-eater to begin with, that is a very big restriction for me!).

2. Kashi cereal, Coffee-Mate, Nightfood bars, as well as stevia and sugar substitutes, are the only "allowables" (see below). 

3. If I find that the above items seduce me into eating white sugar and flour, I will cut them out, too. I will tell you when (and if) that happens.

4. All other food is fair game!

5. Each day, I will post what I ate the previous day, including quantities.

6. I will blog every day, unless I am ill (which, with lupus, is likely to happen from time to time).

My adventure begins on January 1, 2011. Won't you join me?