[Announcement] 2013.

Mmm, sugar. Photo by Jordan Bowser.

A couple weeks before 2009 ended, I made a decision off the cuff:

I’d quit sugar for 2010.

My relationship with sugar had been turbulent since childhood. Eating too much sugar meant I’d be moody or anxious or I’d sleep so deeply you’d have to shake me to wake me up. But eating too much of it had become inevitable. How can we not eat too much sugar when too much sugar is added to nearly everything we eat?

Tired of feeling crappy for eating it and to prove that life can be lived (and enjoyed) without dessert, I embarked on a year-long journey, and called it “My Sugar Free Year.” In it, I’d sever my ties to added sugar (with the exceptions of the sugar in bread, crackers, condiments and alcoholic beverages.).

Sans a few snags in the plan (like the week I was so sick all I could stomach was Jello, and all the Cheez-Its I ate before I knew sugar’s in them under other names, or when the Cake Boss made my cousin’s wedding cake and I was talked into trying a forkful of frosting), I succeeded.

I had picked the probably impossible and promised myself I’d pull it off. I did it in part for my health, in part as a discipline, in part to stick it to the man.

But ultimately, I did it to prove a point:

We are so much stronger than we’re told we are.

We live in a culture where we are certain we would die if we had to go back to dial-up Internet. We have drive-throughs and smartphones (Except for me. And my grandparents.). We have instant music on iTunes and instant movies on Netflix. We can shop, and make friends, and work jobs without leaving our houses.

None of these things is bad. All of them are convenient. But where we live, we are so immersed in convenience that we depend on it. We don’t feel blessed by what’s convenient anymore; We feel entitled to it. So we perceive what’s convenient to be necessary, which, by default, results in our referring to what we should expect in life (like waiting in a line at a store) as inconvenient. It inflates a person’s sense of entitlement and erodes his or her ability to wait. It communicates that what the world says is unbearable or impossible is, in fact, unbearable or impossible. And so we subscribe to that and stop trying.

It weakens us.

It’s why our culture is obsessed with effortless gratification.

It’s why your friends think you’re weird if you won’t eat fast food.

It’s why you hit a certain age and the assumption is you aren’t saving sex for marriage (or capable of it).

They tell us it’s probably impossible.

I am telling you they are wrong.

That we can master our appetites instead of being mastered by them.

That if we can master one of our appetites, we’ll be better able to master the others.

I aim to do it again in 2013, which will be my second sugar free year.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Ya done it again, Arleen. I really love this post. It’s right on the money. You and I seem to have the same bone to pick with our society. We should not have to accept the fact that we are weak and therefore need products A B and C. We were designed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, so that He can accomplish great things through us. THAT’S where our weakness counts…where God can make it His strength. Preach it, girl.


  • SVB

    “…and work jobs without leaving our houses.”

    Um, where might these types of jobs exist, and how do I go about applying for one? 😉

    Good luck on your 2nd sugar-free year!

  • Okay, I read this several days ago, and I thought, “that’s nice, good for you.” And added in, “better you than me.” But then it stuck with me, and I’ve been thinking about it since. Because you’re absolutely right that there’s no reason that we can’t do hard things. It’s making me think about what I might want to do about the hold that desserts and sweets have in my life right now, too.

  • Yay! Wow. Yes, we are stronger than we think, but it’s not always easy to remember in the moment. Your story is an inspiration to me to do better on cutting sugar out of my life as well.

  • Arleen, I really enjoy reading your posts! You seamlessly connect the ordinary and the daily with sharp insights into virtue and morality. And I absolutely agree on the point about entitlement. It makes any sort of sacrifice seem like the least desirable thing imaginable; excellent article!