Sunday, October 03, 2010

Thoughts on sweets.

Once of my all-time favorite things to do, is to buy a pint of Ben & Jerry's or some really over-priced chocolate (actually, it's usually worth what you pay...) and just savoring it bite by bite until it's gone. I love love LOVE ice cream and chocolate. More than a lot of things. 

Despite all this, I'm not eating anything that could be considered a "sweet" (ice cream, chocolate, cookies, cakes, soda, or juice with added sugar - stuff like BBQ sauce, salad dressings, granola, yogurt etc. don't count.). I got the idea from my sister, Brooklyn. She and her husband have been successfully sugar-free for a long time now - since about the beginning of the year. I started feeling guilty around them when I would stuff myself full of unhealthy things, and I decided to just join them. Easier said than done, my friends... easier said than done. 

Before you get all judgy on me, and think it's too extreme, you must know, I'm not doing this to lose weight. I started doing it as way to develop more self-control, and to just see what it would be like, for once in my life, to celebrate the holiday season (Thanksgiving and Christmas) with no ice cream, egg nog, chocolates, pies, homemade caramels, glass candy, advent calendars, sparkling cider, hot chocolate, ginger bread, peanut brittle, etc. Wow... I only just realized how intensely difficult this will be...What's Christmas without these things?!?! That's the point of this I guess. I'm going to find out. (I have a feeling it's a little more focussed on, you know, the real reason we have Christmas in the first place). 

Anyway, it's an experiment, and a test of my will. It's interesting too; I have found that I'm becoming very aware of social customs, obligations and expectations... the findings are disturbing. America (and other places I'm sure as well... but judging by the chart below, I'm sticking with America) is a society that revolves around treats. (I might also add that I'm proud of Canada).

It's been interesting to do this while still a student. It seems like every single social function I've been to, since I started doing this a month ago, has served junk food. Only. That's the only option there ever is. And the drinks are always some form of liquified sugar. It's strange, but I'm finding it's good for me. 

My motivation for going to things like opening socials, reunions, career fairs, grad. school fairs, firesides, FHE, ice cream socials, dessert nights, and ward "break the fast" used to be, well, tied up in the fact that there would be something tasty and free that I could enjoy. Now I find myself still going, but I'm just there to simply be there, to socialize, be edified, and to practice self-control. It's not easy. Functions like these are often very awkward, not to mention the awkwardness of dating - have you any idea how awkward/painful it is to sit for an hour around a fire nibbling graham crackers while the normal kids are making s'mores?! Or telling a boy, after he tells you about the date you'll be going on, that he'll actually have to change his plan, "cause I can't eat donuts"? 

I usually have to defend my decision to chocolate-covered faces, staring incredulously at me, bewildered, shocked, and almost offended. "That's a stupid idea!" is often the response I get. Maybe so, but I have every right to be the one who decides what goes into this body of mine, right? Why should I eat what's there, when I'm not hungry (not that these things even satisfy hunger), just because it's free? Or, even worse, just cause everyone else is doing it? I used to think peer-pressure died off after high school. Turns out it's alive and well in most of the adult world. People of the world: You don't actually have to do what everyone else is doing!

I have come to realize that people need a healthy option. From now on I think I'll be that one lady who always brings fruit and cheese, or bread, oil & vinegar, or gives out raisons at Halloween...Ok, scratch that. Raisons have NO place in Halloween. 

My point is, I'm a changed woman. I think. And I feel fantastic. I usually get sick with the amount of sleep I'm (not) getting this semester, but I've never felt better. I can feel my immune system thanking me.

The down side: I feel great about the fact that I eat no sweets. So much so that I can now justify eating, well, anything else. I find myself giving in to salty-snack cravings and putting a lot more butter on vegetables and a lot more cheese on pasta. I even participated in a pizza-eating contest today (and won $50!) which made me sick (not physically, I'm actually doing quite well...) but just the thought of it and the feeling of all that grease all over my hands and face... (shudder). It was disgusting. Would I have done this if I hadn't been limiting my sugar intake? I don't know. But I think I'm really not too worried about it. 

Once this is over, on January 1st, I'll return to candy land, but I'll proceed with caution. If there's one thing I've learned, it's the value of temperance and balance. 

This has been a grand experience thus far, and I'm so glad I'm doing it. 

...but I really cannot wait for January 1st 2011. This is killing me. 

My suggestion? Try it. You have absolutely nothing to loose... except for those killer cravings, and maybe even a few pounds. Just do a month. Or a week. It's intensely empowering. 


  1. well done. balance and temperance are so important. I went off the sweets for 1 month once and it was soooo hard, but it helped me balance out as well. I suppose anything that requires insane amounts of self-control does that.

  2. I did this for about 3 weeks. It made me once again, realize what I was eating and for those weeks, not eating.
    keep it up!

    and that chart is crazy!!

  3. It's so true about everything that's provided at social functions being junk. My roommate out here is the Institute president and she's been providing healthy food after it each week (bread and apples, various vegetables and hummus, etc.). Everyone likes that so much better than chips and candy, and it's better for you.

  4. Interesting to see this post. It's been on my mind, too, and this evening before reading your post I had just announced to my kids that we weren't going to eat sweets until R's b-day (in two weeks) and then we'd wait again till Halloween. With kids that are used to a lot of sweets I can't go as hard core as you, but it's a start! Good luck!

  5. Bethany,

    I'm off the sweets too and upon announcing it to my family, my Dad said he is going to join me. Thanks for the inspiration!!!


  6. Didn't you just win a pizza eating contest?? hum...

    I could never go sugar free but I am very proud of you.

  7. I totally agree with you on several points. I went off sweets for most of the summer, you know, the wedding and all. It felt great. It really is empowering to look at all the candy in the store and think "yuck... no way am I eating that." It's nice when things you once loved don't even tempt you anymore.

    I'm surprised that you have gotten negative or surprised responses. I only ever got positive responses from people that i wasn't eating sweets.

    You might be pleased to know that while, I do eat some treats now, it's a lot easier to say no to them.

    way to go!