Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sugar and Sin

Sugar sugar
For the last week and a half I have been seriously starving my body of sugar. Part of it has to do with doing the South Beach Diet in which the first phase calls for a serious drop in carbs. I don't see myself as being seriously overweight, but I needed to make some adjustments to be comfortable with myself. I've lost probably about 8 lbs when you count in the fluctuations one might have from day to day.

At the start of this, I was 201 and now when I wake up in the morning  after fasting all night in my sleep, I weigh about 190.5. My pants are certainly fitting better and I feel better, but one thing has been very apparent to me in his last week and a half. My addiction to sugar was pretty bad. By eliminating, if not limiting, anything that causes a spike in my blood glucose levels, I realized just how much I was overloading my body with toxic sugar. 

Seriously, in the morning I'd wake up and have one full glass of orange juice and if there was a piece of bread around, I'd eat it. Go check out how much sugar one glass of orange juice has and consider the fact that since it is a juice, it will be absorbed much faster. I would eat some sort of bread, whether it was toast or my personal favorite, pan dulce (sweet bread). I'd pour my cup of coffee with creamer and sugar or a flavored creamer and the day is just getting started!

Lunch comes around and I would exercise virtually no self control. Whatever sounds good, I went to go get it. Burritos, hamburgers, fries, chips, sandwiches, it didn't matter. After lunch, that mid-afternoon craving for more sugar would set in and I'd find myself at the store buying some delightful peanut butter cups or Snickers to satisfy my need for more sugar.

Then dinner comes around and I may exercise some restraint on the fast food, but it was none the better because even if I was making tacos at home I considered it "home made food." Needless to say, my blood glucose levels were off the charts all day long and with my routine at work which consists of a lot of sitting, my body was storing fat like it was getting prepared to hibernate. 

The first week of not eating this way was difficult because the cravings don't go away. You eat a high-protein, very low-carb meal and you feel satisfied for a little while. But the craving for some sugary delights kicks in very quick and you have to exercise some amount of control over yourself not to give in. 

The weekend is the hardest with the many temptations it brings. Luckily, I was home most of the weekend and on Sunday for mothers day when my wife and I went to my parents house, they cooked grilled chicken tacos and all I had to do was eliminate the tortilla. 

So here I am on Wednesday almost done with a full two weeks of very low sugar intake. Here is the biggest surprise I am learning from this experience. Our addiction to sugar is unknown until we start to cut off all the food sources that give us sugar. I'm not talking about just candy and soda, I'm talking about breads, sauces, and fruit juices, and yogurts, all of the above that have too much sugar and very little nutritional value. I did not understand how dependent I was on sugar, it is an addiction. 

Here's what I am feeling right now. My sugar addiction has subsided. I have very little need to stop at the store and grab chips and a candy bar. The morning is much easier now. I wake up and make coffee with a non-fat creamer and sweet and low and have bacon or eggs, which are full of protein. I also try to have a full glass of water.

Lunch has become a cinch. Today, for example, I had a shrimp salad with a small amount of balsamic vinaigrette. It helped that the Mexican restaurant who made it does a good job with the shrimp, but you can get a good salad like this anywhere. My only real indulgence has been diet sodas which I know are bad for you in one sense, but they don't cause an insulin response (though there are some studies that indicate some may). 

Dinner is a no brainer and is very easy if you're willing to put in the effort. The bottom line has been that eliminating or seriously limiting the amount of carbs I take in, I have effectively curved my craving for sugar. It's completely manageable. In the midst of chips and salsa and the guy next to me eating a burrito, I was happily eating my shrimp salad. I keep thinking of my progress and how good I feel and how I don't want to undermine that, so I keep on pushing on. 

Applying Spiritual Principles

How can any of this apply to spiritual principles? Sin is an addiction of sorts and if we can successfully starve the spirit that causes sin, I think we can curve the need to sin. I'm not trying to build a theology around it, but I think there is some validity to this. Just as in anything else, there is lots of discipline and practice involved in becoming an effective disciple of Jesus. One thing that can throw us off track is sin, which can be likened to sugar in this case. 

I can go right now and pig out on peanut butter cups. Or I can choose not to. Last week, it would've been easy to go to the store and take my choice of sweet indulgences. Right now, I can firmly resist because I don't have a deep sense of urgency to get sugar into my body. 

Right now it may be easy for all of us to engage in some particular sin. Maybe its really easy to get angry and hurt someone. Maybe its really easy to sit in front of your computer to look at explicit content. Maybe its really easy to cheat on your husband and wife with that guy or girl you've been flirting with for a while. 

Whatever it is, the key is to starve it. 

This takes discipline and you may not be presently tempted by certain sins, but ultimately you want to protect yourself from all sin. The way we can all do this is my exercising restraint in our life with all things concerning sin. 

If you're constantly listening to bad music that doesn't uplift and edify, too much of it will be stored in the fat cells of your spirit like sugar to the fat cells of your body. It becomes part of you. This can be applied in many other things such as flirting when your not supposed to, looking at things your not supposed to, hurting people, being angry, acting in malice, lying, etc. When you're taking too much in, it will become part of you.

When it becomes part of you and you're carrying all that extra weight of sin, you have only one choice but to starve it and work out your spiritual muscles. This requires discipline, a focus on the end goal, and lots of prayer. It most certainly requires a serious dedication Jesus. 

We want to be as perfect as we can be and seeking perfection is not done in vain. God has called us to be perfect even though we know perfect won't come until the Resurrection. But, as we know, right now we are called to live holy lives to God. If we dabble in "little" sins all of the time, like little indulgences of sugary snacks, how can we expect to resist that big piece of succulent chocolate cake when it is presented to us?

The little sacrifices we make count because they are investments in the kingdom of God. As you slowly remove your need to sin from your spirit, overtime the big temptations are easy to overcome. Yet still, sin will be crouching at the door always and we must overcome it and we can do this by first stopping it in its tracks and also occupying our lives with good works. 

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