One of My Rests this January is from sugar. This seems to be a popular pick for me the last several years. Probably, because sugar is such a snare! Overall I consume far less than in years past, but when Decedent December rolls around, I find myself succumbing to scrumptious treats and old habits far too easily. My mother-in-law makes oodles of treats for the Christmas season, and over the past few years, she has learned to make several of them gluten free. Plus, she now knows which ones were gluten free already. Years ago, because I didn’t know any better, I avoided them all. Now I have many to choose from, and I ate plenty in December. What I brought home, are in the freezer until after January, and after a month of sugar rest, I will eat them sparsely: at least that’s the plan.
This January resting from sugar has been more difficult and I have been less rigid, even in The List, where ahead of time I made an allowance for dessert out. Based on this post, it is a good thing! Why the allowance? Usually once a month, I meet with a group of ladies and they often make a gluten free treat for me. Rather than tell them I was sugar free, I decided to show up and see what was offered, and accept, if they had made a treat for me. I enjoyed a lovely berry cobbler.
The beginning of this month, I struggled with resting from sweets. Added stress with my father’s life situation stirred the desire to cope by feeding myself treats. Twice at the beginning of the month, I got coffee with sugar free syrup. When I cashed in my free Starbucks, I added a little sugar free cinnamon syrup. When cashed in my belated birthday coffee gift card, I added a little sugar free vanilla syrup. And, they were good. Mostly. I don’t like the taste of sugar free syrups, but I was desperate.
That was sort of a cheat because when I’m resting from sugar, I don’t use sugar substitutes. Yet I did because I wanted something sweet so bad! While I didn’t crack and give into sugar, I did give into the taste of sweet. Why does that matter to me? When I am resting from sugar, not only am I resting from the negative side of sweets, I am also resting my taste buds from wanting sweets: so I try not to remind myself of what I want to lessen my desire for. That is also why I generally don’t use honey or maple syrup for sweetening when I am resting from sugar.
But I did that too! I made a chia seed slurry with coconut almond milk, chia seeds, and a bit of pure maple syrup. Very good, nutritious, and a nice way to get fiber with a bit of sweet. Once when I was trying to use up the leftover refrigerated coffee, I put a bit of honey in the jar and shook it. After pouring it in my cup, I noticed that the honey was tightly attached to the bottom of the jar. Busted! I left it in the jar and smiled at myself, knowing that I generally won’t use honey to sweeten because that’s cheating to me! All of this was in that first several days, trying to adjust from indulgent December to resting from satisfying my every sweet tooth desire.
Since then I’ve been doing super well with not eating sweets or feeling tempted: no sugar free either, nor honey or maple syrups. I’ve noshed on my dried fruit in times of trouble, but I’ve done well passing up treats and haven’t felt deprived. That is a wonderful feeling to feel free to choose, not to have sweets, instead of feeling deprived.
Now for the sweet confession.
My dad’s birthday was last week and my sister and I and our families had a simple little party of pizza, salad, cookie cake, and ice cream. I couldn’t eat three of the four because of gluten or sugar, so I brought a cup of soup to eat with the salad, and I was content. We had a nice afternoon.
This week, I was getting ready to leave and check in on my dad, when my sister called and said she was in town and going over to see Dad. She asked if could she do anything to help me. I was ecstatic, because I talked my husband into going to my exercise class then taking me to dinner for our once a month date. (Eating out using one of my gift cards is ok this year for MJR!) My husband and I were free to be footloose with a whole evening to ourselves!
She gave me an unexpected break that night. And, she was the right sister for the visit. When she got there, Dad was excited to show her the cookie pie the staff made for him. He hadn’t eaten any of it (for over a day, and if you knew my dad’s love of food, you would understand our amusement). He got it out of the refrigerator and wanted to share a piece with her. If I had shown up that night, I wouldn’t have been able to eat it because of the gluten, not because of the sugar. He told my sister that he wished I could eat “normal stuff” and she reminded him it is an allergy, not a choice. They each took a small piece and then it went back in the fridge.
I was touched that he saved it because he wanted to share it with us.
Two days later, I stopped by to check on him and I asked him if he wanted a cup of coffee. He said no, but that he would like some of the frozen yogurt from the cafe. Remembering what my sister told me, “I wish Angel could eat normal food.” I stepped out to get him some.
As I reflected on a few of the sweet moments I’ve had with my dad, a couple of them were after rough medical appointments, seated at that cafe eating a frozen yogurt together. The quiet little cafe is inside my dad’s assisted living home. My dad is a recluse: he doesn’t go out unless forced. He is on oxygen which complicates matters and his COPD is so bad that we cannot use a portable concentrator: we must rely of multiple canisters that need changed each trip. And I admit the first time we got back after an appointment, I bribed him with the frozen yogurt. It warmed my heart to be able to sit in a public place, and enjoy a moment together. Another time I couldn’t convince Dad to stay in the cafe, so we took the froyo to go and went to his room. It was the same cafe where I sat with my little sister and sobbed, because of the weight of our dad’s situation, while she comforted me. No one knows for sure, but we suspect his time with us is short.
When I stepped in the cafe, I got two frozen yogurts to go.
When I came back to his room with two, I said it was a belated birthday treat. He was excited. We sat at his table and ate and talked about who knows what. But I remember thinking that he was happy to have me there and happy that we were eating frozen yogurt together. It was the sweetest cheat.
Over the past several months with my dad, I’ve watched him eat many, many meals, in a nursing home, three different hospitals, assisted living, and in the van after appointments (he won’t get out of the van except for appointments). Most of the time I don’t eat because what he has, I can’t have. After all of these months, I thought it only bothered me that I watched him eat, and yet, as it turns out that it bothered my dad too, at least a little. I feel that one of the most human things that Jesus did was eat with people. Jesus, fully God and fully man. There is something sacred and bonding about eating together.
One more victory for The Rest. This situation made me slow down, and think about what I do (eat or not eat) and why. I chose to cheat out of love!
I’ve loved the Januarys that I’ve made it all the way without an infraction, yet, I never live out The Rest legalistically. The Rest is to be restorative not bondage. And, “cheating” with the froyo was wonderfully restorative: there was purpose in my cheat. And, I’ve been perfectly content going back to resting from sweets.
P.S. Before I left my dad’s I had to I peek in the refrigerator to see how much pie was left; none! That’s the dad I know! I’m delighted he enjoyed so many wonderful things about his birthday.