Depending on the day (hour, minute, nano-second), my decision to give up dessert for the season of Lent can feel like either the best or worst decision of my life.
First, the backstory…
I’ve been very on my game with Bible Study lately, so compared to last year, I have an actual clue about Lent, and why it’s important.
Previously, I’d just half-ass it, and give up something easy (e.g., swearing) for a few weeks, and then slide right back down the proverbial rabbit hole.
This year, I mean bidness, baby. So I felt a genuine sacrifice was in order.
Like, I needed to give up something and really feel it.
But what, pray tell?
After a little back-and-forthing, Hubby and I jointly landed on dessert.
And then I, idiot that I am, upped the ante with this:
“But we can’t just say ‘No dessert’ and then have ice cream for breakfast,” I said. “We should just avoid anything dessert-y, at all times of the day or night, until Lent is over.”
We’re not even three weeks into it and I already want to shoot myself. Every treat on the planet – sprinkle cupcakes! chunks o’ chocolate! rhubarb pie! – is calling to me, daring me to eat it.
And then there are items that fall outside of the obvious-treat arena – like a Kind bar – that I have to make split-second decisions about. Here’s my litmus test: If I feel even remotely guilty when I think of eating it, I take a pass.
And shockingly, I haven’t cheated once.
But to shore up my resolve for the next painful month, I reached out to registered dietitian and nutrition guru Brooke Alpert, co-author of The Sugar Detox: Lose Weight, Feel Great and Look Years Younger.
Before I dive into the mini Q + A, here’s a cute pic:
Doesn’t Brooke look like someone who has her sugar destiny fully under control? You just know she doesn’t dream of gooey, yummy, sinful Cinnabons at night…
Okay, off to the chit-chat:
1. DANA: In the first few weeks of a sugar detox, is it important to avoid anything even remotely sweet – like a banana – so you can “re-wire” your taste buds a bit?
BROOKE: I think having three days of no fruit, no dairy and no grains/starches really helps you get over your sugar addiction and your constant need for sugar. This helps to recalibrate your palate to start tasting more natural sweetness.
2. DANA: Later on, is fruit okay? It seems like it has too many good things going for it to bag it completely.
BROOKE: Absolutely, there are tons of health benefits from eating fruit. But remember – it is possible to ‘over-fruit.’ Too much fruit is too much sugar. I tell my clients to stick to one to two servings of low glycemic fruits per day. [Note from Dana: Click here for a list of low-glycemic fruits.]
3. DANA: Are there any vitamin or mineral deficiencies that can trigger a craving for sweets? Or, conversely, some pill I could pop or special tea I could drink – ANYTHING! – that can help me get through these rough first few weeks a little better?
BROOKE: Peppermint tea happens to be a great distraction while you’re avoiding sugar. There is also supplement called L-Glutamine, which is an amino acid that potentially could help reduce sugar cravings. While I’m not fully convinced it’s the way to go, the research is super interesting.