Updated: Mar 4
Chocolate, red meat, TV, social media and even shopping – these are just some of the things we consider giving up for Lent. But Lent is more than a time to give up something; it’s a time to reflect on and practice self-discipline. Even if you're not religious, Lent can be an excellent practice to help us reset our body and mind.
This year I am giving up two things for Lent – wheat and stress. I understand that these items can negatively impact my body, and over the next few weeks, I will learn how to manage without them.
Once we eliminate something from our lifestyle and diet, we need to substitute it.
Let us think of it more like crowding out or adding things in to help support the
elimination. So, here are a few ways to help sustain you during Lent.
Substitute for cravings
If you’re giving up food that you tend to overeat or drink, cravings may sneak in on you. These cravings may be because your body is deficient in nutrients, your lifestyle is off balance, or you are dehydrated. It’s good to be able to check-in with your body to understand what it is you need.
For example, if you are craving salty foods like crisps, perhaps your body is
deficient in sodium or minerals. If you’re craving caffeine, maybe you need more
sleep or to eat more slow-releasing energy foods like whole grains. If you enjoy
chocolate in the afternoon, try eating sweeter vegetables like carrots and beets
or snacking on fruit earlier in the day to help curb your cravings.
We often underestimate the importance of drinking water, substituting it for tea with loads of milk or coffee as a proper liquid intake. Dehydration can lead to mild hunger, which means many of us will raid the presses instead of reaching for water.
Let’s get serious about hydration though. When our body has cravings, drinking a
full glass of water can help out. If water is boring to you, add berries, lemon wedges, mint leaves or cucumber slices to jazz it up. Try out the many caffeine-free herbal teas like rooibos, cinnamon or white tea.
Get extra encouragement
Since many people celebrate Lent, you are not on your own. Getting support from friends and family will help you be more accountable when sticking to your intentions. Group support offers solutions that you might not have considered and extra encouragement to stick it out. It could even be helpful to keep a diary to write down your daily moods, body changes and emotions.
I mentioned crowding out at the start, and this is a great technique to utilise when trying to give up something. Add in other things to push out the bad habits or bad foods. Eat a handful of nuts instead of crisps, try yoga or meditation to reduce stress, start a new hobby instead of scrolling on social media or go for a walk instead of sitting in front of the TV. This phase is your time to add in something new to your life, so find out what works for you.
It takes just 21 days to break a habit. Once Easter comes along, you may not even want to bring back what you gave up for Lent. Regardless, you will feel pride in yourself and maybe feel better in your overall body. With a positive support system, healthy choices and an ambitious attitude, you’ll find that it’s not so bad giving something up. Whatever it is that you are giving up, you will, in the end, get more. Need some extra help to keep your good habits going? Contact me for an intro consultation to get the ball rolling!
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