Being on my own in college let me learn a lot about my eating habits, one of which is my sweet tooth (if you don't believe me, let me just say I ordered a flight of 32 ice cream cones once). Considering the mountains of information on sugar's negative health effects—and the fact that the average American eats more than twice the daily recommended amount of sugar—I decided to try to do something about my inclination toward desserts. When my roommate mentioned Lent, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to challenge myself.

Getting Started

As the beginning of Lent approached, I questioned my ability to stick to my promise, but I had already made up my mind. First, I set my ground rules: no desserts or foods with more than ~8 grams of sugar per serving. Fruit was fair game, although I avoided smoothies, açaí bowls and other fruit treats.

The first week of my Lenten endeavor happened to coincide just beautifully with spring break. With all of my roommates at home and no one to stop me, I was nervous a late-night moment of weakness would get the better of my mission. Yet to my great delight, I made it through the first week and a half without a problem. As a reward for this milestone, I treated myself to ice cream on the Sunday after my second dessert-less week. Some might call that cheating, but hey I'm not perfect.

cake, cookie, cream, sandwich, ice cream, ice
Julia Hedelman

When the Going Gets Tough

The next couple of weeks were not too hard either. I found that I really didn't crave sugar as much as I thought I would. But I had some secret weapons (dates were my go-to) when the cravings did sneak up on me, like these caramel-y nut butter stuffed dates that couldn't be easier to make.

I was even able accompany my friends while they went out for dessert without drooling too much. But that's not to say that I didn't goof up along the way. My self control took a hit right around midterm week (Free ice cream sandwiches... I caved) but I didn't give up along the way. By the end, I was proud that I managed to stick it out until the end.

So What's the Point?

I participated in Lent primarily as a personal challenge, and honestly the 40 days went better than I expected them to go. I didn't keep my promise perfectly and I think that's okay. I still feel that I accomplished what I set out to do: work toward a healthier lifestyle overall, of which Lent is only a small part. Basically, eating that one cookie isn't going to ruin my progress. Knowing that I don't really need my nightly piece of chocolate is an encouraging step in the right direction, so in the end I think it's okay to occasionally have my cake and eat it too.

Spoon University