However, we did keep up with the 40-day sugar fast! And we finished it on April 3!
Neither one of us found eliminating sugar for 40 days as difficult as we thought it would be. We did determine ahead of time that we would allow ourselves natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup, and my hubby did use stevia in his coffee. But otherwise, we just didn't use sugar during the 40 days. We didn't even use honey or maple syrup very much. I had made sure we had a fresh jar of honey, but I'm not sure we even opened it!
Another thing we did in preparation was to buy a couple of packages of pitted dates. Our daughter and son-in-law have done the sugar fast several times, and Jim likes to make a sort of homemade Larabar to have for snacks. His recipe uses dates. Accordingly, I thought we would be prepared. Would you believe that we never opened either package of dates in the entire 40 days?
So how did we manage without sugar? We both enjoy sweets, and Mr. T was nearly addicted to sugar. (Remember how those Christmas cookies would call to him out of the freezer? Granola bars often called to him out of the cookie jar, too. ) During the sugar fast, we ate a lot of fruit, and when we snacked, it was mostly on either fruit or almonds. Oh, and cheese sticks. Our local supermarket carries a store brand of cheddar cheese stick that we really love.
We found that it was best not to create sugar-free goodies to enjoy, as we wanted to break the habit of eating sweets as a default response. We wanted it to just be a treat when we had something sweet. So for company, I found a delicious chocolate cake that was gluten free and used maple syrup for sweetener. The peanut butter frosting is also sugar free. I will plan to share those recipes soon. That cake became our default dessert to serve to guests during the sugar fast, since we could also enjoy it ourselves.
One of our biggest challenges was finding a sugar free bread. Nearly all bread contains sugar. Mr. T took up breadmaking as a challenge and made -- over the 40 days -- a half-dozen loaves of oatmeal bread sweetened only with maple syrup. We also bought the pricey but delicious Dave’s Killer Bread in the Powerseed variety, which is sweetened only with organic fruit juices. It has nice big slices though and we felt that such high quality bread was almost worth the price. It's definitely worth having a loaf or two in the freezer if you are doing this sugar fast and happen to run out of the homemade sugar-free bread. Some people handle the bread issue by just eliminating bread entirely during the fast, but neither of us thought we could handle that.
I had been doing a Scripture writing challenge in February, so I continued that and just read the devotionals and Bible verses from The 40-Day Sugar Fast. Then in March, I switched over to journaling through the daily devotionals. I would write out the Scripture verses and jot down thoughts from the readings that spoke to me. Here is one, from Day 8 of the sugar fast:
"The problem with leaning on sugar as a crutch is, almost immediately it breaks and I break too, because God never intended for sugar to sustain me. Instead, God says, 'Cast thy burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain thee; He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.' (Psalm 55:22) All other crutches will break under the weight of your burdens ... So praise God for sending His Son so that you don't have to hobble through another day alone. Because of Jesus, you can run, full speed ahead, into this abundant and eternal life. Lean your full weight on that." -- Wendy Speake
My hubby and I talked it over and decided we would delay breakfast until after our time with the Lord. (Prior to this, he usually ate breakfast while reading his Bible and then had his prayer time. I usually did my Bible reading and study early, then had breakfast, then went to my prayer time.) So for the remainder of the fast, we delayed breakfast until after our complete quiet times. We did allow ourselves to have coffee during that time. Yes, there were hunger pangs for sure, but it was good to feel them.
Interestingly, this renewed intensity, and the turning of a sugar fast into a daily intermittent fast as well, happened right at a time when we wanted to make praying for our country a priority. So we were fasting and praying for our country daily during these weeks. What a blessing that God would arrange that for us!
|Wonderful graphic by Little Birdie Blessings|
Another real blessing is that the devotional book didn't stop on Day 40, but went on to Day 41 to help us move forward into our regular lives again. There is also an Appendix A with some very helpful suggestions for living life beyond the fast. As the author notes, "Just because you can eat sugar doesn't mean that you should."
So how are we doing now? Our intent going forward is mostly to live sugar-free. If we want an occasional treat on a special occasion, we will have it. (And if the ice-cream places are open this summer, we will be patronizing them!) But in general we won't use or consume much refined sugar. I find that if I do eat sugar, I tend to crave more and more of it. So it's easier for me to just not eat much of it, and only occasionally when I do. Mr. T is consuming more sugar than I am, but he agrees basically that he feels better without it. Both of us feel as if we have more energy for life.
All in all, the 40-day sugar fast was a great experience and a spiritual blessing as well as a physical one. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to feel healthier and deepen their spiritual life as well.