If you're on the outside looking in, you might be tempted to call my relationship with ice cream unhealthy. I like to think of it as necessary. Perhaps you view your morning cup of coffee or tea the same way.
A couple years ago I thought it would be a good idea to give ice cream up for Lent. To say those forty days were a challenge is a drastic understatement.
I'm thoughtful about what I choose to give up for Lent. While I talk casually and may even joke about it, it is truly important to me. But under no circumstances can it ever include ice cream again.
Why Give Something Up for Lent?
Whether you're religious or not, I really believe there's value in giving something up for Lent. And not just anything, but something that you enjoy or take pleasure in. Making a sacrifice prompts feelings of gratitude and simplifies life. It's a good time to think about and appreciate the things we have.
Why did I give up ice cream in the first place?
I eat ice cream just about every day. It's not nearly as excessive as it sounds. Yes, there are days I sit down with a big bowl, some days even a milkshake or a sundae, but there are far more days when a single spoonful suffices.
Maybe I gave it up because I wanted to challenge myself. It was more like torture.
Maybe I felt like I needed to reevaluate my relationship with ice cream. There was nothing to reevaluate.
Looking back, I shake my head and wonder why I thought this was a good idea. Surely, there were so many other things I could have chosen. Shopping. Taking public transportation instead of cabs. That extra (unnecessary) cup of coffee in the afternoon. But for some reason I chose my most loved food.
I can't say for sure when things went south. My best guess would be day one. I knew the beginning it would be tough. But, I thought once I made it past the first week it would feel easier, that I would stop thinking about ice cream all.the.time.
I went in with a plan. I tried replacing my evening bowl of delicious, creamy ice cream with things like ripe, fresh berries, chocolate pudding, even homemade cookies. One problem though — none of those things were ice cream, and they just made me want what I couldn't have even more.
I thought about ice cream everyday, at all times of day. Morning or night, it didn't matter, I craved ice cream nonstop. And I wanted it more and more every day. It felt like everyone around me was eating it, talking about it, buying it, everywhere I went. It made me cranky and irritable.
Every day I planned to give in the following day, though I never actually did. Somehow I stuck with it to the end.
Since then, I've thought a lot more carefully about what I now give up for Lent, and from now on it will never involve food.
Did you give up something for Lent this year? Have you ever struggled with something you gave up?