Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

My Favourite Drug


I have given up sugar for Lent. I think the goal for Lent is to give up the sin you love the most, so, as I am a dull, nearly middle-aged German Hausfrau and don’t have any sins apart from reading in the bath at 3am so I wake up the next day crabby and use my outside voice with my children (bad), nearly knocking over cycling German pensioners who I forget have right of way over me, my car, any pedestrians or passing ants (worse) or indulging in a high-octave gossip session with one of my South African girlfriends (about a two on the scale of nought to sinful), I’ve had to resort to giving up my favourite drug. Oh I love sugar, I just love, love, love sugar.

At the same time, I have taken up my favourite weight-loss regime, the Shangri-La Diet, in order to shed the avoirdupois which I have gained in the Season from October to now. (Avoirdupois sounds so elegant, rather like “Won’t you have some more peas?” or “Avril du Pois was a lovely girl”, so you can almost forget you’re talking about fat and imagine you’re talking about something glamorous and otherworldly and French. Germans call the extra kilograms that creep on in the Christmas months Winterspek (winter bacon) which is whole lot more basic and frank, and not quite as charming.)

So, in order to separate myself from my winter bacon, I am back on the Shangri-La, which involves drinking a tablespoon of sugar in a litre of water twice a day. Contradictory? At odds with my Lenten fast? No. Let me tell you how.

First of all, I always give up sugar for Lent. It’s tradition: my husband gives up alcohol, I give up sugar and we spend a few weeks staring soberly and sadly at each other. When the deprivation gets too bad, I have a glass of red wine for him and he snarfs a chocolate bar on my behalf. This is a chance for us to show our love for each other. We do it well.

Secondly, the Lenten fast is a test of my moral fibre. Can I resist chocolate, ice-cream, cake, biscuits, yogurt, cereal, random sweets, delicious German bakery products? Can I resist them for weeks on end? Can I bake for my kids and not eat one drop of the cookie mixture nor sample one crumb? Can I resist them without turning into Deprived Sugar Junkie, shouting for the finest cakes known to humanity and mugging little old ladies so I can ravage their handbags for their secret peppermint stash? You betcha.

Thirdly, at the end of every fast comes the inevitable reward. How apt that at the end of my sugar fast comes Easter, the festival of chocolate and hot-cross buns and marzipan and Simnel cake and tiny little adorable pastel sugar eggs that are so cute you want to kiss their dimpled little shells before you inhale them and Nusszopf and other delicacies. Easter Sunday is possibly my favourite day of the year. And if anyone feels the urge to send me some See’s chocolates with which to end my fast, then give in to that urge … you, and I, will feel so much better if you do.

It’s also a chance for me to reveal my backbone. I may be a dull, nearly middle-aged, German Hausfrau with three kids, a washing mountain, and a dangerously addictive blogging habit, but I am Made. Of. Steel. If you put me in the jungle with no rations and a bush tucker challenge consisting only of toad’s eyes, maggots and the roe of the deadly piranha fish, I would voluntarily starve to death. That’s how strong I am.

Tradition, love, moral fibre and backbone are all very well, but fade in consequence when compared to the state of my Winterspek. It has to go, and as a veteran of almost every diet known to humankind, from WeightWatchers to the colic diet to that weird one where you eat beetroot and cheese for three days, I can honestly say that the Shangri-La Diet is the easiest, most effective and sustainable diet I have ever attempted. Best of all, it removes nothing from your diet, only adds a couple of tablespoons of sugar. Yummy, delicious, pure, white, granulated sugar, which you add to water and sip slowly over a couple of hours, with the delightful after-effect that your appetite goes away. So I am drinking sugar in order to not eat sugar, and it is going very very well. Really I can recommend it. It’s the way forward. By the time Easter comes, I’ll have no appetite left and won’t be able to eat those chocolates you sent me.

P.S. I had some of my husband’s favourite drug tonight – can you tell?


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

26 thoughts on “My Favourite Drug

  1. And here I’ve been wondering if the Dark Chocolate Cadbury Mini-Eggs (which I have yet to try, but am tempted!) could count as the eggs recco’d for breakfast in Phase One of the South Beach Diet.


  2. Winterspek…I had to laugh! How do you say “all year round bacon” in German?

    Sometimes I look at myself and think “Avoirdupois, je ne sais quoi!” because I don’t know what made me look like this…perhaps too much bacon and sugar, n’est-ce pas?

    I like how Easter serves as a reverse Mardi Gras for you. Do you also binge on sugar before Lent starts?

  3. I usually take the oil — I’ve never tried the sugar water. It is the best way to diet.

  4. I mean Shangri-La, oil or sugar!

  5. Hahahahahah Winter Bacon!!!!!!

    Charlotte, you are amazing with your willpower. Especially now that they have come out with Orange flavoured Cadbury’s Cream Eggs. Lord have mercy!

    Drinking sugar water sounds dangerous–I’d eat the sugar on a spoon while making the drink.

  6. Karrie – I think any interpretation of eggs will do. Especially dark chocolate, as it’s so healthy. Think of those anti-oxidants.

    Henitserk, I think all-year bacon is just plain “Spek”. And the reason for the Avoirdupois is the family Season that’s lasted since October. You know they tie me down and force-feed me cake.

    SusieJ, I have problems finding ELOO in this little Ecke of Germany, so I go with sugar. I tried walnut oil for a while, and it did wonders for my skin, but not much for the weight loss. So I’m forcing myself to drink the sugar water, but it’s a sacrifice.

    Nat, having my daily dose of sugar does help with the willpower and – without wanting to oversell the Shangri-La method – completely takes away my appetite.

  7. I agree it is really hard to do to begin with, but I haven’t eaten sugar for almost 2 years now, and it does make a big difference to your energy levels. I only wish I could say that I have learnt not to miss cake… sigh!

  8. Oh, I laughed until I cried. I particularly love the thought of you and your husband looking sober and sad… you almost make fasting during Lent sound fun in a very dark way.

  9. Dollink friend – does one have to stagger the sugar water through day? Is it one teaspoon in a litre?

  10. Ok, I’m trying the Shangri-la. I was seriously considering lap-banding this morning so this has to be better …. doesn’t it?

  11. I’m impressed. I’m also grieved to report that I’d forgotten it was Lent already, didn’t make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and haven’t given up anything, in fact have been having occasional chocolate cravings that I have given in to in order to give my Inner Child some recognition…but I shouldn’t be plaguing you with mention of the big C, if you’re restricted to sugar water. I don’t know how you manage the baking without sampling the mixture, not even a smidgen – I think that’s a physical impossibility for me – iron will indeed!

  12. Ah…my eternal temptation: sugar and chocolate. I have arrived at the stage where I only crave chocolate about two times a week. …and I give in! More power to you Charlotte!

  13. Oooh I am fascinated to bits by this shanfri0la thung…never heard of it before and Charlotte, I am going to try it. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for sharing that.

  14. Sorry sorry sorry for my typos – I never edit my comments until after I post them. Oops.

  15. I am surrounded by people giving up things for Lent. One of my clients is giving up sodas; my response is “You should never drink those anyway.”

    The Shangri-La diet seems to work. I have read a lot on it, and tried it for a couple of days. It would be a whole lot more effective for me if I could remember to do the things you are supposed to do for long enough for them to become a habit.

  16. Litlove, I am so impressed that you have given up sugar for so long. I am aware that it can be very draining. Do you feel much much better without it?

    Lia, yes, we be a very dreary bunch roundabout now.

    Ms Pillowblogger, hi! I did link above to my post on SLM. Therein lies a link to Seth Roberts’ blog. Or if you wish, just google him. The basic premise is:

    One hour after the last thing with taste (toothpaste, coffee etc) has passed your lips drink either:
    1) one tablespoonful of sugar dissolved in a litre of water, OR
    2) one tablespoonful of extra light olive oil
    Then have another taste-free hour (water is allowed)

    Repeat after lunch. That’s all. The first time I did it I lost five kilograms in a month.

    Ash, so much better, I assure you! Give it a go.

    Kit, I am nothing if not stubborn. But I flip so easily in the other direction.

    Charlottalove, I suspect you do shedloads of exercise, in which case chocolate twice a week is perfectly acceptable, methinks. My exercise involves a lot of gentle daily walking, nothing too strenuous, and so my chocolate intake needs to be more severely restricted.

    Wendz, it is great, and the support on the forum is also wonderful if you care to join it. It is a method that you can use for the rest of your life – not a regime, not a diet and not involving deleting any favourite foodstuffs from your meals. That’s my best bit.

    Ms HMM, you are right. It needs to become a habit. That’s all. Sooo simple.

  17. oh dear… Lent… completely forgot about that! Especially for you Charlotte, and all those of your loyal readers, our little family have more than made up for the loss of chocolate in your diets… we were at… ta-dah… fan fare here… bells… CADBURY WORLD… on sunday! After 4 hours at the factory and being given chocolate around every corner… we still have a huge bag of chocolate! I am sooooo incredibly “chocolated out”… so mine is a sort of default giving up of chocolate for lent… Shangri-la it is going to have to be.

  18. I’m such a lapsed Catholic, I completely zeroed on the fact that it’s Lent! When I was young I gave up all sorts of goodies and felt all pious and pure going to church. But, really, what a good idea: The practice of discipline. And breaking the fast on Easter (sometimes at midnight on the dot) was always such a triumph.

    You are an inspiration.

  19. I’ve never given up anything for Lent, and now am no longer religious, but you do make deprivation sound mysteriously attractive.

  20. Me too! Me too! I have sort of given up allahohl for Lent. I have been inspired by so many others being so disciplined, but I admit the tempation of losing a couple of kgs was a bigger pull. The odd thing is, so long as they keep making alcohol free beer, I am finding it do-able! And, am feeling better for it too. Ms HMH is right about drinking fizzy sugary drinks, I have a friend who calls that stuff with the red and white label ‘the devil’s drink’ which I think is true and funny.. who needs it? But I don’t think giving up beer altogether is a long term option.. 😉

  21. Is it Lent? I do seem to miss giving something up in a strange sort of way. Does dark chocolate count as sugar? Surely not, with all those anti-oxidants and all. Charlotte, you’ve got a great system but given supermum’s and my common addiction to dark chocolate and good red wine, we’d never find different things we could satisfactorily abstain from in a mutually supportive kind of way. Maybe we could do something for Lent instead? Like ironing. Or something.

  22. Of course, I’m somewhat Jewish as well as somewhat Catholic, and Purim always seems to fall during Lent and it becomes my religious duty to eat biscuits.

    Do you think if I pretended I hated biscuits it’d count as a sacrifice?

    No, don’t answer that.

  23. Tanya, I’m jealous. The next time I’m in the UK, I’ve got to take my kids.

    LK, you’re very sweet. I AM looking forward to breaking the fast. We usually couldn’t be bothered to wait till Easter Sunday – Easter Friday will do. I’m already planning what I will bake in advance of that happy moment.

    Imani, we aren’t particularly religious either. We just do it to prove that we can do it. Stubborn, I guess.

    Well done Emma. I believe alcohol-free beer is not too bad. You can still pour it into a long, tall glass and pretend you are giving yourself a treat.

    Reed, eat those biscuits. They are obviously good for your spiritual well-being.

    Ms Magic Hands, yes. Lent ends at Easter.

  24. Sorry folks, that was me answering above and not my lovely husband. Now that he can’t drink red wine, he does get in the way a bit, don’t you darling?

  25. I’ve been known to give up chocolate for Lent, but never ALL sugar, egad! My sisters used to do that. Funny, I posted myself today on what I’ve given up.

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