Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent Challenge 2011 - Limiting Choices

So, I hadn't really given Lent too much thought.  It kind of crept up on me.

I kind of figured that I wouldn't do anything since I couldn't think about it in time.

But then a friend offered up a challenge.

Though she's not Catholic, she's planning to reinvigorate her health by going temporarily pescatarian and vegan.  She challenged me to join her during Lent.  This means no meat (except fish), no eggs, no dairy, no chocolate.

I said, "Excusemewhat?"

No meat, no eggs, no dairy, no chocolate.  Whole grains (duh), potatoes, ketchup, wine, and beer (but not enough to feel the effects strongly) are all acceptable.

I'll be honest, this just sounds like torture.  I've never really felt like going vegan is a choice I can make.  My thumbs basically give me permission to eat you.
I kill you with my thumb...
But let me back up a bit.  Here's some things we talked about.

I questioned, "What if I only have 70 or 80% dark chocolate?"  She said I could modify it how I need to.  But she's going to go for no chocolate.  Truth is, I don't really eat that much chocolate.  I like hot cocoa (but mainly the Swiss Miss mix and hot water), and if we have chocolate in the house I will eat it.  So, no chocolate in the house usually means I don't snack on it.

But...chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has some delicious antioxidants and produces happy feelings. 

The dairy didn't seem like the biggest issue, since I usually drink soy milk.  But butter, cream cheese, cheese...CHEESE...these are things that are staples in my diet.  There's also Greek yogurt, which is a pretty healthy addition to any diet.  I know that soy products and a lot of the dark leafy greens have calcium and iron, so I'm not too worried about nutrients.

But...cheese, in moderation and variety, and yogurt are a great source of enzymes and live cultures that our bodies need to function smoothly.

The meat actually isn't too difficult.  I don't usually eat too much beef, except for the occasional (maybe once or twice a month?) hamburger.  When eating out, I will usually opt for fish, veggie, or chicken.  But pork is pretty much a staple in any Filipino diet.  In fact, I had just made a pot of sinigang when she suggested the challenge to me.  So, I'm going to miss bacon every couple of weekends, and I can't make a hamich when there's nothing else in our fridge.

But...there is something to be said about having unprocessed meat from "happy" animals.  Having just finished The Omnivores Dilemma and having friends who chose not to eat meat that wasn't from a local farm, I definitely believe that the most natural, unprocessed, unfrozen meat is the most delicious.
Valuable read!
The eggs might be a problem.  I love omelets, I love crepes, I love pancakes, I love pastries.  I understand how all those things sound super unhealthy, but it's not that I eat all these things every day.  But so many things have eggs (as well as dairy) in their ingredients, that I am really most concerned about staying true to this.

But...I don't really feel like eggs in moderation are that bad for you.  They're a good source of protein, and even a little bit of cholesterol is good for you.

When my friend was talking to me about the benefits of the diet, I brought up a lot of my concerns.  Her argument for it is that you become really conscious of the cravings that you usually get, it makes you stay away from extremely processed foods, and you can get really creative with your meals instead of sticking with familiar foods.

I can appreciate getting creative with foods, especially after having experienced picking up a box of fruits and veggies from our CSA.  I can also appreciate being conscious about what your put in your body and what you want to put in your body, especially considering that I try to focus a lot of organic foods.  I can definitely appreciate staying away from extremely processed foods, though I can name some of the foods we currently have in the house that are quite processed.

Here are my concerns:
  • Theoretically, I could eat all the "right" things, but I could fry every single one of them and it would be acceptable.  
  • Brunch, my favorite meal, is pure evil.  
  • I feel like her reasons for starting this diet are different from my reasons for wanting to lose weight.  
  • Living with the boyfriend and sharing foods have made it easy on my wallet, and this diet is going to cost me money that I don't have.
  • Lastly, I feel like deprivation is not the correct way to diet.  In fact, the idea of deprivation makes me angry.  Extremely angry.  So angry that I'm trying my best not to be angry at my friend who's challenging me to this diet.  I love her, and I value her friendship so much.  But deprivation makes me angry.
My issues with food is mainly about portion control.  Those big plates are deceiving, and I will fill it up to the edges if I have the opportunity.  So, what if I just ate less of what I usually eat?  Isn't that a good choice?

Unfortunately, that's not the challenged she's offered to me.

Really, my biggest concern is the cost and the time I will use to buy and use extra ingredients that I can eat in the next 6 weeks.

So, I agreed to the challenge with the chocolate modification.  We talked on Thursday, March 10th, and I started on Friday, March 11th.

The last day of Lent before Easter Sunday is my birthday.  So, I'm sorry Lent, but my birthday takes precedence over you.

There will definitely be follow up on this.

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