ZELLA COMPTON: The struggle is real – I’m giving up chocolate for Lent

Zella is giving up chocolate for Lent. Will she succeed?
Zella is giving up chocolate for Lent. Will she succeed?
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I’ve never really tried to do Lent with any gusto, and this year I had absolutely zero intention of doing it at all.

But somehow, I’m not sure exactly of the circumstances, I declared illogically and with no thought, that I’d give up chocolate.

I’m sure it wouldn’t be this much of a struggle in the desert, it’s not as if chocolate’s being wafted under your nose every five minutes.

My words were seized upon with derision by my youngest daughter who informed me there was no way I would be able to do it, and thus, the chocolate challenge was set.

If I’d been cannier, I could have given up something a little more achievable. Like sherry. I drink that once a year – at Christmas – and I forgot this year as it happens.

But it’s there, in the background, I could have a sherry if I wanted, so it would make sense to give it up for 40 days.

I’d be giving up the choice, rather than the actuality.

But no, I didn’t think of that on time. And also, it’s not in the true spirit as isn’t lent about letting go of something that nourished you? Chocolate nourishes my soul.

But I hadn’t realised quite the extent that it does its nourishing until cutting it out commenced.

Let me tell you, chocolate haunts us. If you’re hungry and out and about, both of which I am frequently, it’s actually rather hard to steer clear of chocolate in regular shops. Snacks are based around the dark bean.

When I want something sneaky in the cupboard, and if all else fails, and please don’t judge me, I know how disgusting this is, I have been known to indulge in a teaspoon of chocolate spread.

Or a bar of cooking chocolate, or even a packet of drops which were destined for cookies – but, I hasten to add – never the doggy chocolates. Even I haven’t sunk that low.

But it’s so so so hard to avoid an inadvertent snack. A friend offered me a Malteser – it was touch and go before I remembered.

There was birthday cake which almost got into my gaping mouth before I clicked its origins. And so on and so forth. I’m sure it wouldn’t be this much of a struggle in the desert, it’s not as if chocolate’s being wafted under your nose every five minutes.

But so far, so good, although I suspect I have been overcompensating with Pringles which are handily on sale at my local convenience store.

Oh, yes, and sherry. There’s a glass (tiny) of that waiting for me right now as I experience its joy out of the Christmas season, because I can.


What an exciting time we’ve had waiting for the long-trailed Beast from the East, the Arctic spell of cold weather.

The name for this particular freeze is simply brilliant, although the temperatures in my house are not as, economically, I decided not to have the chimneys swept this year as we hardly used them last winter.

I also threw out the small electric heater which distributed more sparks than heat. With the winds hitting the side of the house which is not double-glazed I am in fear of freezing to the sofa, even though I’ll be huddled under three quilts.

Stay warm one and all, and don’t forget to check on your neighbours.


Over the past few weeks there’s been a lot of coverage about ultra-processed foods and how bad they might be for us, even being linked to potentially causing cancer.

Whatever the side affects of the processing, how few nutrients are left, how many subspecies of plastic are entering our bodies from the packaging, the thing that truly bothers me is this – the taste.

I’ve been shopping more and more from farmers’ markets for sour dough fresh bread, meats, veg, cheese and sometimes pies. It costs a little more, but the taste of food without plastic, without being stored and shipped and pumped chemically to stay fresh, is so much better.

Supermarkets killed our high streets, but perhaps taste and markets can bring them back to life.