Sweet Lenten hangover

Like any hangover, the good times fade fast. Leaving behind the residue of excess and the bloat of bad decisions. And so it was with my sugar high on Easter day. After six weeks of processed sugar abstinence, I let loose early Easter morning. Probably before the time Mary Magdalene had come to the tomb to discover Jesus' empty grave, I had scarfed down my first Girl Scout thin mint. And second. And third. (OK, does the total really matter?) The point is, I was ready to break my fast in a big way. I even hyped it the last week, as though my discipline would somehow land me on Oprah.

See, I have long standing healthy eating habits that allow me to indulge occasionally on any food I choose. Guilt free. That's the message of moderation that I firmly believe and teach. So total deprivation isn't something I relished, yet it was an opportunity to practice discipline in a reflective manner.

The interesting point in this story is that midway through Lent, I discovered I didn't miss sugar. If I had a sweet tooth, I ate a grapefruit for breakfast or made a pineapple smoothie for a snack. Without processed sugar in the body, the barometer for sweetness greatly morphed into a calmer desire for the sweetness of fructose, the naturally occurring monosaccharide found in fruit.

But somehow, when the end was in sight, I began visualizing desserts. Mostly the GS thin mints winking at me from the freezer. Oh, and the bag of Peeps that followed me home on Saturday. It became such a prominent thought, that I decided to turn it into an eating experiment. What if I just ate anything sweet that came my way on Easter day? If the mouth craved it, just let it in. Was it possible to "untrain" my palate so quickly? Would my stomach even tolerate the shock?

Who better than a wellness coach to use personal experience I thought, as I prepared Angel food cake, breakfast bread, and Easter candy dishes for our family gathering. Sure the strawberries were good, but the edges of the Angel food cake were better. With a yellow Peep here and a pink jellybean there, I was on my way to a full blown sugar coma before the first guest arrived! I kept the pace up for most of the evening, with help from a fresh pot of coffee and a Boston creme cake that arrived with my cousin. (Couldn't offend him by refusing his dessert, when I'd already consumed one of everything else on the table!)

Like any good high, the end comes too soon, and yet, not soon enough. I crawled into bed, waiting for the effects of the caffeine and sugar combo to wear off. A good lesson no doubt, as I anticipated sharing the outcome. Sweet dreams for sure.

As I lay in bed this morning, tired, bloated, and questioning my sanity, I felt the grip of man-made food. The unnatural combination of processed ingredients, coupled with a high fat content, proved to be a powerfully unhealthy reminder of the excess that's causing our national obesity epidemic, as well as my belly ache.

I should mention here that I weighed in four pounds heavier this morning from one single day of indulgence. Granted, my consumption was extreme by my standards, but perhaps not in the context of an all-you-can-eat buffet. More importantly, the lack of energy and cramping that accompanied my recovery throughout the day would be enough to hinder any wellness plan of action.

That's right, no more sugar for me. As soon as I finish those thin mints, I'm through.