On the day of New Year’s Eve 2019 in the heat of the transformation mindset I have made the rash decision to avoid processed sugars all week, and every week except Sundays. There are multiple normal reasons that I have for doing that, but nothing that’s a matter of life or death. I just wanted to see if this change would make my normal human health problems such as energy spikes and crashes, skin problems, motion sickness, and other things improve so that I can become a healthier version of physically ‘normal’. I told my mom about this on the phone, and coincidentally she said that she had made the decision to avoid desserts until Sundays. “Maybe we can support each other,” she said. Avoiding desserts is a change far less extreme than avoiding the processed sugar that’s in commercial peanut butter and fed to yeast to make bread fluffy, but it was still a similar kind of change.
I thought that this would be fun. I have lost some of my taste for sugar from the time I was a little kid–now if you give me the choice between peanut butter cups and cheezies, I’d go for the cheezies. This will be easy, I thought.
I got into the habit of getting up early in the morning to make myself a hearty sugar-free breakfast of some kind. Over the past few weeks I have made myself plenty of three-egg cheese and spinach omelettes, and they’ve kept me going very well until lunchtime. I’ve been brewing my coffee less strong so that it would taste too sweet for me if I even attempted to put a small amount of sugar in it, while beforehand I would have brewed it so strongly that once I had added my sugar, it would have been as decadent as bittersweet chocolate. I loved, and still do love coffee like this, but it was a lot of caffeine in one little comfort drink. Milder coffee with just a splash of milk has also been tasting really good, but in a different way. My energy, mood, and my stomach feel better now than before I began drinking coffee without sugar. It also cleanses my palate in a nice way after eating an omelet.
I’ve been liking what this choice has been doing for me, but this is the problem— as an over-analyzer of everything including ingredient labels, I could easily allow this choice to make me so self-centered that I can isolate myself from others for the sake of vanity. My arguments for following this restricted diet to such an extreme might not be strong enough and can potentially discredit the challenges of people who have no choice but to avoid sugar.
Why do I think that this choice can be unjustly isolating? I have begun to question this choice on my first day back to my volunteer job at a school when one of the teachers baked a birthday cake for the teacher I work with who had her birthday during the Christmas holidays. This was when I began to think about what a birthday cake, or any other kind of centerpiece dessert that we cut and share symbolizes—it symbolizes coming together to celebrate unity in one good thing. If I had said ‘no’ to a piece of cake I would have been denying the intentions to share for superficial reasons. I accepted a piece of cake and felt no regrets. In fact, my conscious would have been bothering me if I had said ‘no’. This might sound strange to some people, but it actually took willpower for me to accept a wonderful piece of homemade buttery pound cake with whipped cream icing all because of my legalistic tendency towards excessive self-control. Personal freedom takes effort sometimes—can you imagine that?
After this experience I tweaked my New Year’s resolution to include centerpiece desserts, but not a moment too soon I couldn’t help but acknowledge that my friends and family had been continuing to bake homemade treats such as cookies, and offering them to me just like they had always done—same story. Although physically cookies are not centerpiece desserts that symbolize one unifying sweet that we share In pieces, they are still made with the intentions to share, so I’ve accepted homemade cookies, and the occasional candy. So now I’ve tweaked my resolution again: I will eat sweets whenever they are offered to me in kindness, but I won’t go out of my way to find something with sugar for myself for convenience’s sake. It’s considered normal in today’s world to turn to a vending machine candy due to hunger over taste, and that might be one of the biggest problems we face regarding sugar. There’s no unity involved in getting yourself a package of Pop Tarts just because you’ve missed breakfast. I doubt that there was any love put into the making of convenience sweets either. From now on whenever I’m offered anything sweet I will ask myself: “Is accepting this treat going to allow me to connect, or maintain connection with others?” If the answer it ‘yes’ I will accept it.
Because of my obsessive personality I can easily become an extremist in many aspects of my own life. I either neglect to care about worldly things, or I obsess over them. It’s hard for me to find the in-between, and my diet is not an exception to this problem. This reason is why I’ve thought it best to create rigid rules for myself, and then over time tweak them whenever they are proving to deprive me of whatever is freeing and humbling—this is transformation. First Timothy 4:4-5 says, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the work of God and prayer (ESV).”