Of Sweets and Snares

About two years ago, I wrote a post about the deception and dangers of gluttony. It took two more years for me to delve deeper into this conviction and identify my relationship with sugar as extremely unhealthy, both physically and spiritually.

Ugh. It’s still something that disgusts me. But I’ve found freedom, so it’s a story worth sharing.

So I’ve always loved sweet treats–especially chocolate. Cookies, brownies, white mochas–if it has chocolate, I’m game. This conviction about gluttony, however, has been lingering in the back of my mind for years (years!) and I finally needed to chip away at it.

While this is unfolding, I’m still dealing with my ever-underlying depression. I’m always interested in what lifestyle changes I can make to keep from sinking further into Blobville. Brain fog is my number one nemesis and it’s something I’ll take any tools to fight against. Typically, exercise is the best defense to keep my mind clear and my body feeling good–but with all the coronavirus shenanigans going on, my usual workout studio has been closed and I’m struggling with motivation. (In other words, I was reminded why I work out in a class format instead of relying on my own declining efforts.) So sans regular exercise, brain fog has been making a bigger appearance.

Now you take the gluttony conviction, the brain fog, the depression, mix them together and poof!

Giant struggle.

Somehow I began researching the effects that sugar has on the brain and I decided that eliminating sugar was the direction I needed to pursue. It would challenge my gluttony conviction and hopefully lessen my brain fog.

So I decided I would avoid all treats with refined sugar.  I’d keep honey and maple syrup for sweetening coffee or baked items, but would skip over the rest.

The first day was terrible. All I could think about was sugar. I wanted chocolate, I wanted candy, I wanted anything with an instant sweet fix. I was upset at how much I thought about it, and I was upset about not being able to fill that craving. I was a huge mess of crabby that day.

Oh man.

But do you know what I discovered?

Every time I had a sweet craving, I could tie it to an emotional connection. I wanted sugar because I was hungry (natural, but not satisfactory), I wanted sugar when I was stressed (quick dopamine fix), I wanted sugar when I was sad or in a bad mood (thus why we say “comfort” food). When I realized this, my gluttony conviction hit harder than ever:

There is sin in seeking food (in my case, sugar) instead of seeking Jesus.

I need to take my moods to Jesus. I need to take my stress, my sadness, my irritations to Jesus. I can’t band-aid over them with sugar. Sugar distracts but Jesus heals. Sugar provides a temporary fix but Jesus has already provided an eternal solution. Jesus sets us free from all that entangles and ensnares and enslaves us–even from the slavery of sugar.

Seek Jesus, not sugar.

After the first week, I noticed that my sugar cravings were gone. I didn’t think about chocolate constantly. I put honey in my morning latte, and that was all the sweetness I needed for the day. I kept this up for the month and my brain fog was noticeably lessened. (I was impressively less bloated too, which is always a plus!)

At this point, I’ve let myself eat sugary treats again–in moderation, mostly. I definitely notice how my brain and body respond to it now, however, which I never had before. I need to have the mindset that I’m eating to fuel my body for a productive life; I’m not “dieting”. (I have a proclivity for obsessive habits and would probably just starve myself instead.)

But I also have three little people watching–they’re watching when I seek chocolate, and when I seek Jesus.

I need them to see Jesus.

“Therefore… let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

– Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

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