A word on using Lent as a container: A few years ago I wanted to deepen my spiritual practice, and I had a something that I wanted to try but I was finding myself resistant. It was early February and a friend suggested that I try it for Lent. It’s about 6 weeks long, a manageable amount of time. My friend explained that her understanding of Lent is not that we have to give something up, but that we use it to discover what might be standing in the way of our relationship with our Higher Power.
So, that first time, my practice was to “keep the Sabbath.” I made my own rules as to what that meant. I was feeling really stressed because I was always too busy, so my first rule was no clocks and no appointments. I also sought out opportunities that felt like they connected me with the Universe. I often had friends over for dinner. Several times I scrubbed the shower in a mindful meditative, Zen kinda way.
Doing this practice for 6 weeks made a profound change in my life. This Lent I am following this healing diet. It is my hope that I will heal some ongoing health issues – fibromyalgia, migraines, and food sensitivities. The diet is fairly limited. It attempts to eliminate all allergens, so no grains, dairy, nuts, seeds (including chocolate and coffee), legumes, eggs, or nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants). I have been largely grain-free for years; the hardest part for me has been giving up butter and eggs.
OMG, what’s left?! Meat, veggies, fruit and some fats. There are a lot of ways to combine those that are delicious and don’t leave anyone feeling deprived. This is the point that I want to make: any time we voluntarily restrict our diet, whether to lose weight, for ethical reasons, or for overall health, we can either focus on everything we are denying ourselves or we can focus on the deliciousness of what is available.
I have actually been practicing this for a while. For a holiday meal in December I served roast beef, roasted beets and onions with a butter-maple syrup sauce, brussel sprouts roasted with bacon, and chocolate truffles with fresh berries for dessert. I don’t think anyone noticed that there was no bread, grains of any kind, or dairy. It was a sumptuous satisfying meal.
In the last week, I’ve eaten sausage with onions and kale, orange coconut pannacotta, hamburgers with sweet potato fries, baked pumpkin and apples, spaghetti squash with bolognese sauce, pumpkin orange pancakes, and much more. For me, creating meals like this is a great adventure. I have not felt deprived at all.
Last night I was traveling. We decided to eat at a Mexican restaurant. Everything on the menu had something that is not included on my current diet – corn, rice, cheese, tomatoes, peppers. I finally decided to order fajitas so that I could pick and choose what I needed. I ended up with a nice meal of shrimp, guacamole, and grilled onions.
For a few minutes I was outside of my comfort zone. I started to feel like I’m a freak and it’s not worth it. Once I actually got my meal I remembered that I am not deprived. I am choosing to forego some foods so that I can improve my physical and mental health. The world is full of amazing delicious choices and when I focus on abundance instead of lack, life feels really good.
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