Yes, I know we're only halfway through the 21 days of prayer and fasting, so this does not make me some sort of expert. However, there have been a few things that we've done well and a few things that we have not done well so far, so I thought I would share what we've learned so far. As a disclosure, this post is only about the food-discipline part of the fast and not about the spiritual part, so if you are fasting from particular foods or doing a Daniel fast, some of this may be helpful. If not, it might just be interesting... who knows. Here is what our household is doing to help make the "What can I eat?" part of this process easier:
- Ease into it. If you choose to make a major dietary change during your fast, make sure you start slow. I had read this and thought that I didn't need to do it. I figured, I don't drink that much coffee or caffiene and my diet isn't that bad. Boy was I wrong! By the end of only the second day I was shaky, nauseous, and ended up with a migraine. I felt the headache coming on all day and should've listened to my body and just had a cup of coffee but I thought I was being "tough" instead. As a mom with two young kids, I just ended up in a place where I could hardly care for myself much less them, and had to call Josh to come home and take over so I could go lay down. Yeah, I guess my diet wasn't quite as clean as I thought it was to start with! It's been pretty eye-opening actually as to what I put into my body each day.
- Making exceptions is a slippery-slope. Every year, my birthday falls right smack dab in the middle of the fast. On top of that, this year a trip to New York was also thrown in... think long hours on the road, New York food (pizza and bagels- yum!), and a retirement party and wedding thrown in. I have to be honest and say that I started off very strong. I ate a salad and drank water on the way there, and even made it through the retirement party. By the time my birthday dinner and the wedding reception rolled around, I used the logic that these were "special occassions" and that it would be okay to venture away from the fast. Granted, I do think this is okay from time to time, and the point of fasting is not to be legalistic. But, it did open a door for me to continue to make excuses... I mean, I had already broken my fast, what difference did it make now? Getting back into the swing of things ended up being harder than starting it in the first place, so just keep that in mind.
- Involve the whole family! My kids are still eating sandwiches and chicken nuggets, but their snacks are now made up of fruits and vegetables... and they are loving it! I don't think I realized how much they love produce until I started making it an option for them. To hear Jake practically beg for a carrot and to see Lil get excited when I pull celery out of the fridge has made me realize that it's just as easy as the "convenience" of Goldfish and mini muffins. Again, it's been eye-opening. I know that we'll add chicken, eggs, and a few other essentials back into our diet after this is over, but snacks are staying as is- for me, too! I want them to grow up making healthy choices, so I'm glad this is happening while they're young. For me, it's definitely been good on the waist-line, too!
- Learn to substitute. I can't tell you how many times I have read to use apple sauce in place of oil or bananas instead of butter, etc. Until now, however, I never tried any of these things and it turns out that they work! I also have been sweetening with Stevia instead of sugar, and find that I actually prefer it. For a gal who loves to bake, I think I'll be making some changes when all is said and done.
- Focus on the benefits. Any time you are craving something sweet or fatty, think about the positive changes this has had on your body. I usually have lots of belly aches, but this clean eating has really helped. Every time I want a French fry I think about how they make me feel.
- Don't forget the spiritual aspect. Fasting without praying is just going hungry. I realized when I went astray that not only did I "cheat" a lot during that time, I also barely prayed nor did I crack open my Bible. Yesterday I wanted a bite of Lilly's cookie so badly, and probably would have shared it if I did not just stop and ask God to give me some restraint. To some poeple, this may seem silly, but I honestly could not have resisted if I did not have someone to physically talk to and ask for help. Sure, I can't see God physically, but I know He's there.
- Make it fun! I am not someone who likes to cook. Bake, yes. Cook, no. But, I am finding the challenge of cooking within these parameters oddly exciting, printing off recipes from the Internet, and trying things I never thought I would (cous-cous... really?). Plus, it's really helped clear out our pantry and has made me a disciplined grocery shopper, only getting exactly what I need for recipes rather than whatever looked good at the time.
I hope that you find this encouraging as you go into the second-half of this fast. Twenty-one days does not seem like a long time, nor does it seem like it would be difficult, until you're actually in it. And believe me, it's a long time when you want some chocolate! So if you're like me and need something sweet, I'll share a sweet-treat recipe. Tonight I'm also making flat-bread and soup, so if either of those turn out good, I'll share them, too!
|Taken with an iPhone. Excuse the quality!|
Banana Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups whole grain oats
- 2 ripe bananas (I actually used ones that were almost green because they're sweeter)
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Cinnamon to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)
Mix everything together, spoon out into cookie-sized portions on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.