My Little Lenten Experiment

I was born raised as Catholic though  I don’t consider myself devout.  There are too many political goings-on in the church that I don’t agree with so it’s hard for me to find a common ground with many church officials and their beliefs.  But I don’t let that spoil the traditions I grew up with.  For instance, I go to church, not every Sunday, but often.  I find that I can pray, meditate and sing just as easily as being in yoga class…granted I don’t sing in yoga, but there is an occasional chant which is nearly the same.

Now we are in the liturgical season of Lent, which, in Catholic tradition, is a period of 40 days of fasting and preparing for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The period begins with Ash Wednesday, which was the 22nd.  It goes to approximately Holy Thursday (it really depends who you ask when the Lenten period ends) but I like to practice from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  During this time, Catholics are supposed to fast, abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays, repent for our sins (whichever way you chose to) and give up something considered to be an indulgence.

This year I have chosen to abstain from meat for all 40 days, guacamole and chocolate.   I chose to give up meat because I heard that prior to Vatican II, meat was to be abstained from throughout Lent, rather than just Fridays.  I thought I’d give it a try.  Not to mention, I have always eaten meat.  I have never gone more than a day or two without meat but I will be eating fish.  I want to see what it’s like to be a “vegetarian.”  It’s my little “experiment” for the season.  Guacamole and chocolate are two “indulgences” for me and I eat them often.  I feel it will be good to do without them for a time.  At night when I find myself craving something sweet, I eat Edy’s Strawberry Fruit Bars.  Very yummy and healthy.

It’s been hard and it hasn’t even been a week!  Yesterday, while at a friend’s apartment, I almost ate a piece of bacon.  Thankfully another friend stopped me just as I was about to take a loving bite.  “Sugar!!”  (we were in the presence of a 2-year-old.)  But I’m so thankful to have friends like that.  Today I was at Chipotle for lunch.  It was very hard to restrain myself from adding the so incredibly, deliciously smooth guac to my veggie bowl.  Instead, I substituted the peppers and onions which added a flavor that I am not used to but was very good.  Now I’m stuck with crazy onion breath…sorry, TMI?

I am excited to see what happens at the end of this meatless 40+ days.  I don’t know if it will make me a true vegetarian, probably not.  After all, I will still be eating fish and I do enjoy a good steak every now and then (especially made by my husband).  But I have to say, after 5 days I feel a difference.  Somehow I feel lighter; I don’t feel heavy and bloated in my abdominal region.  I don’t know if it’s just my brain playing tricks or if this is actually an effect of the lack of meat.  But as Michael Pollan writes in In Defense of Food: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  It’s a good mantra to put anyone on the right path to proper eating.

Do you give up anything for Lent or follow any pre-spring-time practices?  Let me what it is and how it’s  going.

Mars Says Goodbye to it’s “King”

By the end of 2013 Mars will put an end to their confectionery products exceeding 250 calories.  The end of the era of the “jumbo, ‘stay-puft’” (I made that up) comes by way of an Agreement that Mars signed with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America to eradicate 1.5 trillion calories by the end of 2015.  I <3 Michelle Obama.

Mars is taking a stand by eliminating their king-sized candy bars.  A Snickers king-size bar is 510 calories.  That’s a meal in an over-sized, sugar-filled candy bar.  Do I even have to mention that there’s an obesity problem in the U.S.?  Regular-sized Snickers are 280 calories.  Their “regular-size” will be reduced to an undetermined slightly smaller size in order to make the 250 calorie cut-off.  Good!

Mars acknowledges the necessity for change in America’s overall health.  They believe “this work is essential, as health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes have complex causes, and finding lasting solutions will require concerted efforts by many parties.”

This will bring portion control into a new light.  I know there are people that eat king-sized candy bars as snacks, or after meals, even with meals.   Without the king-size option, a 250 calorie snack or dessert will be nice.  A reduced-size “regular” candy bar may just be the right size to extinguish cravings and help decrease the amount of health problems in this country, one hopes.  The realization that bigger is not necessarily better might begin to make a deeper impact and we may  learn to snack responsibly.

We are in this together and work must be done to change the way we, as American’s, view food.  Thankfully Mars is one of the leaders in the food industry that are looking into the nutritional value of their foods and finding ways to improve.  This is the beginning of a changing time in the American food industry and I’m excited to see the results.  I’ve recently read that Pepsi is taking steps to make healthier products as well.  2015, I’m looking forward to you!

Now my only question is, will the cost reflect the downsize in the candy bar?  One hopes that Mars is as ethically, as they are nutritionally, inclined.

(And in case you were wondering, Twix and M&Ms fall under the 250 calorie range and won’t be changed.)