Lent It Go

It's Pancake Day (YAY)

It's Pancake Day (YAY) which is a welcome sign that spring is also on the way and soon we’ll be enjoying some brighter days and easter treats too! 

But between these two things we find the period of Lent! For anyone who’s unsure Lent is a Christian celebration which starts on Ash Wednesday (14th February) and ends the day before Good Friday. The 6 week period is traditionally known as a time of self-discipline and restraint and many people chose to give up certain foods that they typically enjoy or indulge in. 

From a nutritionist perspective, here are my thoughts on the concept of Lent.

If you’ve met me or read my blogs before you’ll know that I’m not a great believer in self-inflicted deprivation so forcing yourself to give up something that brings joy to your days isn’t something I would encourage. 

However if you did want to test your self-discipline and chose something to give up for lent then here are a few ideas of things you could try (pick one, not all) 

1. Sugary Drinks

There really aren’t many arguments (in my opinion) for including high sugar drinks in your diet. They have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels as well as your dental health and also add calories very quickly with very little impact on hunger levels. These include things like Coke, Fanta, Oasis, some flavoured waters, Rubicon etc etc. There's of course exceptions to all rules but on the whole drinking fewer of these would be a good move. 

2. Alcohol

If consuming alcohol has become habitual and you’ve fallen into a routine which does’t feel like its quite in line with your fitness or health goals then now might be a great time to give up the booze and re-assess your habits. 
Having a break from alcohol can have many benefits including improved sleep, improved mood, fewer calories & sugar consumed, clearer skin. 

3. Heavily processed foods 

Here I’m referring to things like cake bars, processed meat products (sausage rolls, chicken nuggets), pot noodles, cuppa soups (you get the gist) not frozen fruits & veg, tinned beans, hummus or bread. Removing products which are high in added sugar, salt and fats and which have little nutritional value in terms of vitamins and minerals can be a quick way to improve your overall diet.  Perhaps pick one and commit to replacing it with a healthier whole food option 

Things I wouldn’t recommend giving up

1. Something that you currently really enjoy or eat very often. For example if you currently eat 4/5 slices of bread per day then cutting down could be beneficial but completely giving this up might just add stress to your day and make your current routine more difficult. Instead focus on cutting down slowly.

2. Foods you know you have an emotional attachment too. If you have a certain food that you reach for in times of stress then again like the example above it may be beneficial to cut back on this slowly but a cold-turkey approach is likely to end in a blow out at some point. Instead maybe use this time period to address areas of stress in and try out some alternative stress management ideas. 

3. Whole food groups. There are very few occasions when this results in improved nutrition and often it feels very difficult, quite stressful and can lead to over indulgence in that food group when the period of restriction is over.

As always let us know if you have any thoughts on this and keep us posted with if you’re giving anything up for Lent.


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