Time for a real food challenge

Cristian Vasquez

For all of us of the Catholic faith lent is upon us once again. This year I decided to really challenge myself in terms of making a sacrifice during this 40-day period. Instead of the usual giving up red meat, or not watching television, I decided to give up processed sugar. So for the next 40 days I will not consume anything that has processed sugar. In essence, I will have to make all my meals at home, eat lots of salads and vegetables. The only sugars I am allowing myself to have will be in the form of fruits so that’s not too bad.

While I have modified my eating habits and am becoming much better at not eating like a high school kid, there is a lot I still need to learn and apply into my life with regard to proper nutrition. However, given that Fat Tuesday is a celebration on the eve of a long, and hopefully, permanent separation from sugar, I went on a bit of a binge. While I will spare you the grotesque details of what I consumed, let’s just say that today my stomach hurts like it hasn’t in years. The last time my stomach hurt this way was when I was 8 years old and I took a spoon with a jar of strawberry Goobers and had a midday snack. I spent that afternoon complaining of a stomachache and my mom wondering why I was sick. Up until now, mom never knew that the stomachache was caused by the lack of self-control in her overweight son (so I think).

All she knows is that on a Sunday evening during a party at the Santa Monica Pier hosted by her employer, I didn’t want to ride the carrousel, nor did I want to go up and down the giant slide provided for the countless amount of kids. Instead I sat on a cold bench, crouched over holding my stomach wishing that we could just go home. But I wouldn’t dare tell my parents that; knew better. A night outing to the beach wasn’t common and this work party only happened once a year so I wasn’t going to be the one to ruin the party.

Much like the incident that evening, most everyone I know will learn about this week’s poor choices and painful consequences with the passing of time. All that matters is that once the stomachache dissipates I can focus on the next 40 days during which time my body will detox from the sugar dependency. Right now I am too sick to really crave anything more than water but I’m eager about the upcoming challenge. Changing a lifetime of bad habits is never easy (to this day I can’t stop having coffee and I continue to battle the evils of smoking), but it has to happen with the food. This isn’t implying that I will never have sugar again. There is no way I can go on without ever having hot chocolate and pan dulce (pastries) on cold, rainy nights. However, it is another step toward fixing the flaws in my lifestyle.