The Masochistic Deipnosophist Experiment!

First things first. To be clear, I am not and have never been close to being a Catholic. I have never supported organized religion, what it teaches, what it stands for, and mostly how it treats people.  But something about the idea of testing your own limits with the ultimate goal of understanding yourself in a small way appeals to me, so let’s say I’m coming at this tradition from a psychological, health and scientific standpoint.


This year, to support my Man I’m going to join in on the quest for “self betterment” through abstinence, and give up something for the better part of a month and a bit, but mostly to see if I can do it. It’s an exercise in Will Power!

To decide which thing to give up was rather tricky. Clearly couldn’t be anything sex related, or else I might die. But to just pick some small petty little thing also defeats the purpose of the whole process, It should also be just quirky enough to satisfy myself as well, so when my idea came to me, I was proud yet also slightly terrified, which I assume is the right feeling that something having even the tiniest origin in a religious organization should give you.  So as of today, I am giving up foods that begin with the letter ‘C’. But not for Lent…for Fake Lent. Which from this moment on will be called “The Month of the Masochistic Deipnosophist”, meaning, the month of “I hate myself, but I am the master of my culinary domain”.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right?…foods with the letter ‘C’… Well, I started compiling a list of ‘OFF LIMITS’ foods and it began to get scary rather quickly. Not only is my beloved and sacred coffee on the list, so is the vital and life-giving force of chocolate! Turns out I might die from this after all. But I’m too far in at this point to quit now. I keep writing….Cake…Diet Coke…Cheese…Caesar Salad…Chips… The good news is my health ought to greatly improve by the end of the stint, that’s for sure. But I was starting to worry, I can’t omit things like Carrots…I love carrots and they’re perfectly good for you…so are cucumbers, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, and cranberries. I knew what needed to be done. I created an Exemption category, and would permit the ingestion of a limited selection of ‘C Foods’. But that amendment still didn’t quench the fear in my gut of waking up in the middle of the night with chewed coffee grounds in my mouth and cracker crumbs in my bed.

I then decided it would be best to make my actual options more tangible, rather than focusing on what I had to avoid. I wrote the “In The Event Of A Choice Induced Panic” List. Reminding myself of all the other foods I enjoy and am able to cook while adhering to my fake rules.

Here are my final lists!

My Fake Lent Plan!

AKA. The Month of the Masochistic Deipnosophis

For the next month or so, I will no longer eat foods that start with the letter ‘C’

Including but not limited to:

Cake (Doughnuts count as cake!), Cupcakes, Cookies, Chips (both potato kinds), Candy, Chocolate*, Hot Chocolate, Cocoa, Coke, Diet Coke, Cola and Other Carbonated beverages, Cinnamon, Crackers, Coffee*, Cashews, Cream, Ice Cream, Cinnamon Spread/Toast, Sugar Cereal, Cheese (Grilled, stuffed or in any way excessive…If it’s just on top that’s ok), Caramel, Caesar Salad, Chicken (Fried), Chick Peas, Chilli, Coleslaw, Croissants, Croutons, Chinese Food (Take out).


Carrots, Cucumber, Celery, Cherries, Whole Grain Cereal, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chicken, Corn, Couscous, Cranberries, Crustaceans, Curry.                                                                            

*Unless completely and utterly necessary

In the event of “Choice Induced Panic”, remember you like:

Pasta and Mushroom Marinara sauce, Spag Bolo, Oatmeal, Yogurt, Toast, TEA (So drink lots of it), Milk, Sushi, Rice, Risotto, Roast Beef, Potatoes and Gravy, Baked Potatoes, Meat Pies, Soups and Fresh Bread, Biscuits, Muffins, English Muffins, Beans, Taco’s with Salsa, Eggs (Scrambled/Omelette), Peameal, Pulled Pork, Turkey (Breast or legs), Green Salad with Peppers and Tomato Dressing, Spinach and Mushroom Quiche, Shrimpies, Stuffed Peppers, Stir Fry (Beef or Chicken Breast), Thai Food, Indian Food, Brownies, Pie, Apricots (fruit in general), Fruit Salad (Melons, Grapes, Berries, Apple, Pear, Nanners), Duck?, Fish? (Talapia), Lamb, Veal, Sausages, Nuts (Excluding Cashews), Pizza (w/o cheese), Bruschetta 

I’ll tell you, making the panic list was a lot harder than I thought it would be…A LOT of ingredients begin with ‘C’.

So that’s the plan. I will update weekly on my progress and share my pain. As I’m sure you can see, there was another amendment involving the complete necessity of coffee and chocolate, but I will do my best to steer clear and find happy alternatives.


I have outlined the parameters of my experiment, My hypothesis is that I will feel better physically and emotionally after the duration of the experiment, and will measure that by taking a “7 Dimensions of Wellness Quiz” from Simon Fraser University that tests your overall wellness in seven dimensions of your life, Environment, Physical, Financial, Emotional, Spiritual, Social/Cultural and Career.  I will do the test both pre and post test phase, then compare scores, and a Post Hoc in the event of significant change in results to determine direction and magnitude of the change.

Pre-Wellness Test  32/70 ….(OUCH)



– Miss Hailey Jane


5 responses to “The Masochistic Deipnosophist Experiment!

  • Christina

    I very much enjoyed reading this and I’m gonna keep reading!

  • David

    Your list of things is overly strict I think. Surely Diet Coke starts with a D and not a C. And Doughnuts shouldn’t count as cake, nor should Timbits. But good luck and try not to die.

  • lrigneerg314

    Are you worried that you may have subconsciously answered the questions from the SFU test more negatively (and will answer them more positively afterwards) because you expect a positive outcome? Or that questions you were asked stimulate you to work on aspects of your life not connected to this imposed abstinence, but will affect (improve) the final score.

    As well, part of your emotional well being could be affected by SAD, and therefore show improvement independent of any other changes.

    Good luck. I tried to give up chocolate one year. It went horribly, horribly wrong. Horribly.

    • haileyjw

      I did take that into account, and it is a big hurdle that couldn’t be helped, particularly with the absence of a control group and test/group blindness. But for the purpose of my own personal study it serves just fine. I answered the questions honestly, and though there should have been more, they were likert scaled as well as multidimensional. By the time I come around to repeating the test I will have forgotten my previous answers, and I intend to answer them completely honestly once again.
      As for your comment on seasonal affective disorder, I would imagine by the beginning of April, the weather here will still be depressing, And if I were to write a final report on the results, in the Discussion I would have to add “Further research should test the effects of seasonal affective disorder on abstaining from foods that begin with the letter C”.
      And really, it’s not like this is up for publishing…”New at Psychology Today, eating foods that begin with the letter ‘C’ is a detriment to your health!” My hypothesis is also completely ridiculous by testing standards, so really if you wanted to pick it apart I’d start there.
      This is just a fun, entertaining and scienc-ie way to improve my life. Thanks for the good luck, I may need it on the chocolate front. I’m two days in and still going strong…so we’ll see how it goes from here!

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