Thursday, March 10, 2011
It's Lent, and it raises the age old question of what to give up. I look at Lent, not as a season of deprivation and hardship, but as a chance to refocus and think about what really matters. I usually give up something food related because I love food so it is usually something of a struggle and it's pretty easy to do without disrupting your life or becoming a crazy person. Last year Patrick and I gave up factory farmed meat which meant we ate a lot less of it and when we did eat it it came from the Co-Op or Whole Foods. I'm not going to sit here and lecture you on how bad commercially raised meat is for you and for the planet, but just know it's awful. If you're at all curious I recommend reading Eating Animals by Johnathon Safran Foer or The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen.
This year we decided to give up meat in general. I felt bad because this is much more of a hardship for Patrick than for me. With the exception of the occasional chicken schwarma or Chick Fil A nuggets I could easily be a vegetarian. So I felt that in order to make it equal I needed to give up something that would also be difficult. For a split second I thought about giving up coffee, but I soon realized no one wants that. Not Patrick, not my friends and certainly not the people I work with. I can remain calm in most situations, but take away my coffee and it gets ugly. So with coffee out of the question I had to think of something else. I have a pretty big sweet tooth and I realized that I actually do eat a lot of sweets. I go out for frozen yogurt with friends, someone brings in cake or muffins at work, the occasional cupcake or cookie when I'm out for dinner. And while I'm pretty good about keeping the fridge stocked with only healthy food I sometimes bring home low fat ice cream or fat free pudding. I could give up all sweets, but that seemed like a murky line. Does flavored coffee count as a sweet? What about the granola bars I bake for Patrick? So I decided to give up processed sweets. No cookies, frozen yogurt, ice cream, cupcakes, muffins or candy for the next six weeks UNLESS I make it myself. From scratch. I figure this lets me keep my penchant for the occasional treat without making it readily available. It also makes it healthier because I know I won't be eating as much and I know that what I do eat is made from scratch and from real ingredients that I can actually pronounce. It's not going to be easy, but it will refocus me to think about what goes into my body and what I eat. And that's what Lent is all about, a refocus. And froyo, I'll see you in six weeks.