giving up sugar for lent

As I’m sure many of you are aware, yesterday was Pancake Day. I hope you all indulged in delicious pancakes with all sorts of crazy fillings. We had crepes with mozzarella, cheddar, sausage and Parma ham, followed by fluffy pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, dulce de leche and peanut butter. It was a very good day.

If you’re English and/or Christian, you’ll also know that the day that follows Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday) is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent. If you’ve been following The Dim Sum Diaries for long enough, you’ll know that every year I give something up for Lent. Partly for religious reasons and partly as a way of challenging myself, I choose something that I absolutely love and know I will struggle without. And I absolutely stick to it.

The last two years, I did chocolate and wheat (that was torture), the year before that I did rice (surprisingly hard when living in Asia!), one year I did ‘unnecessary snacks’ (I could have dessert, but only if it immediately followed a meal. I was living in Italy at the time, so this meant no mid-afternoon trips to the gelateria), and another year I did cheese (in Asia, not so hard, but when a student in England, it was definitely not easy).

sugar-free lent

This year, I have decided to give up sugar. I’m not going as far as cutting out fruit sugars and alcohol sugars, etc., just no refined sugars. This means no chocolate (unless 100% cacao…very bitter), no cakes, no desserts…basically no fun.

But I’m not going to let this be the case. Granted, I am absolutely going to struggle with this. I’ve given up sugar for a few days at a time before, and I can definitely admit to it making me just a tad grumpy. But so many people do it, and it’s only for 45 days… yikes.

Seriously, though, there are so many ways of getting around this, so I just need to find those ways, allow myself small indulgences that don’t contain refined sugar (cheese? wine?) and enjoy the benefits of it all.

sugar free lent

The hardest part will most likely be turning down desserts at restaurants (unless, it’s somewhere like Grassroots Pantry or MANA that can offer me sugar-free treats). I apologise in advance for not being able to tell you if this restaurant’s tiramisu is any good, or if that restaurant’s chocolate cake has the right texture. On some occasions, I may have a guinea pig with me who can be my official dessert tester; on others, you might just have to find out for yourselves!

I also expect to be doing some healthy baking during this time, and I’m sure my Hemsley + Hemsley cookbook will see a fair bit of action. I still need to try those black bean brownies afterall! So expect to see some healthy recipes creep up here and there. Any and all recipes from my readers are always welcome, so feel free to email me your favourite sugar-free recipe if you have one (

In past years, it has not been unheard of to actually dream that I ate the thing I shouldn’t have been eating and woken up frantically spitting out the imaginary food.

sugar-free lent

It’s 9am on Day One and so far this is going well. I’m feeling good. I am absolutely not thinking about the 70% dark chocolate that I cannot have this afternoon. Nor the apple tart and chocolate mousse that I cannot have for dinner at the HK Club this evening. I swear I’m not.

Wish me luck.

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