Friday, September 10, 2010

Sweets Surrender

My doctor recently advised that I temporarily cut carbohydrates out of my diet. No fruits, grains, or sugars. This sounds simple until you try it. I have never before in my life realized how much I depended on bread, pasta, cereal, and desserts to get me through each day.

And as for the advice that drinking more water helps fight off sugar cravings? It's bogus.

I am fighting a battle constantly to overcome my desire to blow my diet and chow down on a piece of cake, warm toll-house chocolate chip cookies, brownies...heck, at this point, I'd settle for a bowl of oatmeal.

And it's only been one week. One week!

While eating every fathomable combination of meat and vegetable, I've had a lot of time to think about my craving for sugar - how I gravitate toward carbohydrates for comfort and how I don't like the feelings of deprivation that this diet brings. In some sense, I feel more in control by squashing my low blood sugar, eating more nutritious foods, healing my stomach. But in other ways, I feel this is one of the more frustrating limitations stacked on top of so many others in my life right now.

With chronic illness, it's easy to be focused on what I *can't* do. Being limited and restricted compared to others my age is the name of the game. In some sense, I've grown use to it, but when a particular restriction (like no sugar) prevents me from doing something I desperately want to do, it hits me in a weak spot. I tend to lash out and have a temper when I feel out of control, and yesterday was no exception. I was overtired, lonely, and hungry for just a taste of what I used to eat all the time, but I was faced with a choice - to take the doctor's advice and try to keep going, or to give in to my craving.

I'd like to say I took the high road, but I ate a soy dessert bar.

Today, I woke up and figured I might as well have a few chocolate-covered almonds since I'd broken my streak. I just barely stopped short of eating more than four, realizing I wasn't going to make my failure worse by opening the floodgates.

Struggling against my craving for sweets can be brutally difficult, especially when I falter like I did yesterday. But it comforts me to know that I can start over today. I don't have to give up completely. As a perfectionist, that's a classic excuse of mine - "I already failed, so I might as well throw it all away." In order to fight that, I've had to cling to the promise that through faith in Christ, my failures are all washed away - my temper, my mistakes, my bad attitude. Repeated new beginnings are so important to persevering. Whether the struggle is with illness, a job, maintaining a diet, or surviving a tough patch emotionally or spiritually, it seems that stumbling in the pursuit of a better life is part of the process. Right now, I'm learning that truly meaningful victory is composed of a series of failures and new beginnings, not a long run of perfection.

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