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A Sour Month Part 3:

(post, Trista Cornelius)

Near the end of week one…

While my husband ordered bland vegetarian options at business meetings and passed up the open-faced turkey sandwich at his favorite lunch counter for the first week of Meatless March, I munched two cookies on Wednesday, made a sugar-free but super-sweet chocolate smoothie yesterday and today (it’s sweetened with Medjool dates), and have started talking about my life and diet in terms of restrictions rather than embracing my sweet-free challenge with the adventurous attitude Meatless March is supposed to be about.    

I am just not committed to this idea of no sweets for March.  I thought it would be easier this time around.  When I became veganish (I still eat the occasional egg), people said my diet seemed too restrictive.  I joyfully explained how I’d experienced the exact opposite.  The removal of meat and dairy opened my life and palate to abundance and diversity I’d never experienced before.  Now, however, I focus on what I cannot have:  no muffins, no cookies, no jam on my almond butter sandwich, no agave in my tea, no eating after 7pm…  (I have no idea where that rule came from, but I broke it Saturday night with a piece of toast and a smoothie.  Rebellion is sweet.)

Maybe what I’m really learning this March is moderation.  Maybe I should have NO restrictions, and see how I do having just a little of this and that (like Carol said about her one cookie in her comment in Part 2 ).  But I know I can’t really cut myself loose like that.  If it’s not already obvious, I have a bit of a compulsive and addictive side to my palate.  

Sweet and fattening foods affect the brain just like heroin does, according to The Oregonian  in an article last week.  They trigger the “pleasure centers” of the brain, and some people (like me) get addicted to these foods and “increasingly compulsive” (aka:  gorging on cake, see part 2).  

“Increasingly compulsive” describes me with sweets.  I guess I could say, “Hey, it’s not heroin!” and indulge all I want, but obviously, all this resistance to a sweet-free March is showing me just how much I need to do this.  

The thing is, even as I feel sorry for myself about this month’s “restriction,” the food choices I am making really are not restrictions.  My food choices are about being mindful, about paying attention, about living life fully by noticing life as it happens.

So, is a sweet-free March a good idea?  Are my sugar-free, but still sweet and chocolately smoothies defeating the purpose?  Or, am I finding healthy alternatives?

Although I have to admit I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the smoothie, I want to approach March more like people who fast during Ramadan or Lent.  It’s about shaking up routine, removing what we take for granted (or gorge on in my case) and cleansing heart and mind, getting more in tune with life, remembering what it means to go without, finding clarity and strength in the restriction, living fully in spite of the restriction, developing a new routine for the month, and finding new rituals that cast light through the murky rush of each day.  

Well, here goes, on to week two…. 

How We Live section C Wednesday, March 2, 2011 “Humans are Hard-Wired for Fat.”  I can’t find it at, since it was originally from McClatchy-Tribune, so “here’s from another news service.