In America, when I was on vacation there a couple of weeks ago, I drank more Starbucks coffee in two weeks than I had in the year before that… and, with a “vacation mindset”, I ended up using flavoured syrups, sweeteners, and chewing gum to excess. I mean, with abandon. I didn’t feel very good when I got home – I really felt I had overdosed a bit and wanted to get rid of all the toxic chemicals I’d been putting into my body.
So, “for lent” I gave up coffee and sweeteners. (how many times have I given up sweeteners, you ask? Many, many times.)
It’s now been about a week and a half without these things, and it is actually quite shocking just how much better I feel without them – and just how hard it has been giving them up!! Now I sip on tea while sitting at my desk, rather than coffee; I have a glass of water with a teabag in it (just can’t stand plain water) rather than a diet soda. And at work I’m really fine with these replacements. But yesterday, it was the weekend and I had time to unwind and relax – that’s when it hit, a real urge, hit me like a freight train. I was SO close to going to the shop and buying multipacks of gum to binge out on them… which is exactly the kind of behaviour I used to have with food, never just one, always the whole hog…
And I can’t claim victory over this. My experience has always been that when I surrender, even if things get tough, God always provides me a way out; and that’s what happened yesterday. I somehow managed to procrastinate just enough for the shops to close (even the 24-hour grocery stores close at 4pm on Sundays here). And I did have four cups of tea with sweetener in them… I thought it’s the lesser evil… but now I have packed away the sweetener again and that’s that.
It just hit me how compulsive I have been with these things, and I didn’t even realise it! Only when it escalated. I depended on sweetness, I looked to food for excitement again… and with the amount of sweeteners I was using I didn’t even like food very much when it came, it seemed tame and bland. Now I’m beginning to discover more and more tastes in my beautiful, natural food! And, miracle of miracles, I have the experience of getting hungry in between meals much more rarely than I did when using sodas etc. between meals.
So I just wanted to share this – I don’t know whether I’ll stay away from sweeteners after lent. I definitely will stay away from gum. I had put down gum for months but then I went “on vacation” to the US and picked it up there. Once I got back again I didn’t pick it up here. But the sweeteners… I don’t know if I’ll completely get rid of them forever. Right now I have my eyes on the next four weeks and I want to really experience them… it’s so strange. Physically I feel ever so much better like this, without them; yet I still miss them. As for coffee, I do miss it especially after meals but I am finding it much easier than I thought it would be.
But – just let me make this clear – whether I have diet soda, coffee, gum, sweetener, or any other GS-approved substance or not – I am absolutely abstinent and anyone using those things is just as abstinent. This isn’t about my abstinence as such, it is about my contentment in abstinence. IDENMW.