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Health

Lenten sugar fast and health kick – the halfway mark

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Butternut noodles - A Free From Life

I’m halfway through my Lenten sugar fast. What began as a detox and clean eating phase, has levelled off to become more of a health conscious way of living.

The first week of soups and smoothies kick started the process. Did you know people used to fast on Ash Wednesday (the day after Pancake Tuesday and the first day of Lent)? I decided against that, opting instead for a juice cleanse, but it put me in the right frame of mind for the weeks ahead.

Being conscious of what you’re eating, especially when it comes to sugar, means that you make healthier choices all round. I don’t cave at the sight of a maple pecan Danish in a coffee shop and therefore, I actually don’t have anything to go with my coffee. I just don’t snack as much.

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I’m sipping on cinnamon tea right now, whilst snacking on oat cakes with almond butter. Apart from that, I haven’t had any other snacks today. I also don’t have a repertoire of snacks I could share with you. This period of my life hasn’t been about replacing one thing with another, it’s been more about doing without, cutting out.

Instead, I’m making every meal count, starting with breakfast and I’ve become inventive with my lunches, by making things like these Teff flatbreads called Injera:

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My one coffee a day has remained and I’ve had a glass of wine with dinner if I’ve fancied it, so I don’t feel as though I’ve really missed out on an awful lot.

Not that I’m saying it’s been easy. There is something about red wine that screams ‘dark chocolate’ and I found myself longing for something like that the other day. It was the day after I made apple cake for the troops and had to watch them all tucking in and enjoying it. I guess my brain just felt it needed something.

Apple Slice - A Free From Life

The bonus is weight loss and it always is for me when I do this. I’ve already lost 2kg and I’m feeling fitter and leaner for it. This could have more to do with the amount of exercise I’m also doing: walking the dog once or twice a day has meant that I must be exceeding my daily number of required steps for sure.

It’s a cycle though isn’t it? Healthy eating means you feel better on yourself. You’re leaner, which also makes you feel fitter and inclined to do more exercise and so it goes on.

A friend asked would I be gorging on chocolate come Easter Sunday. The answer is no because I don’t like it much anyway (milk chocolate) and because I don’t crave it at all. Will I celebrate by having that dark chocolate I was craving earlier this week? I’m not sure about that yet. A part of me thinks I should, whilst another part thinks it would be a shame after going so long without sugar. It would be like falling off the wagon.

I didn’t do this to give up sugar for life though, just to give it up for a long enough period to get my health back on track. Some sugar will creep in to my diet again as the year continues. I won’t feel guilty for that, but will try to make sure it is kept to a minimum and that it doesn’t get out of control.

Then I will do this all again next Lent.

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Health

Sugar fasting and eating healthily for Lent

Green Smoothie - A Free From Life

Although I try to be healthy most of the year round, every Lent, I make a special effort. As a Catholic, growing up we were always asked to give something up for Lent. It’s supposed to be a period of reflection and prayer in preparation for Easter, one of the most important dates in the Catholic church.

Most people have heard of Lent even if they don’t celebrate or participate in it. Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday was the day when people used up their larder ingredients in preparation for the fasting period of Lent. That’s how we came to have pancakes on this day, because it’s an easy way to use up butter, eggs, milk and flour.

For me, Lent is a period of time, with a beginning and an end. That means I can discipline myself that little bit more, to make sure I don’t waiver from my goals. I give up sugar and I eat as cleanly and as healthy as I can.

The first time I did this, it was difficult, but since then, I’ve included less and less sugar into my diet, so each time I do it, it gets that bit easier. This is my third year and I’m keeping to this little tradition I’ve started because over the course of the year, a little bit of sugar does creep back in to my diet.

That’s fine though, I’m not beating myself up about it. If I fancy a cherry and almond slice from Costa then I’ll have it, but during Lent, there will be nothing like that.

I’ve started my week on a soup and smoothie cleanse. The soup is my simple leek and swede recipe and I made a big batch of it at the beginning of the week to see me through.

Gluten, dairy and nightshade free soup

The smoothie is apple, cucumber, celery and spinach, topped up with coconut water.

Green Smoothie - A Free From Life

Breakfast has been my overnight oats, with some banana and almond butter stirred in to make it extra filling.

Overnight oats - A Free From Life

 

Snacks have been mixed nuts and I’ve had a meal in the evening with the rest of the family.

I won’t carry on eating like this until the 24th March, when Lent is officially over, but I will keep you informed about what I add to my diet and how I get on.

Giving up sugar is easier than giving up coffee.

For me that is anyway. I once gave up coffee for Lent and found it ever so hard. Even though I only have one coffee a day, it’s kind of like my one vice and if I’m giving up sugar, I think I will keep my morning coffee as something to look forward to. I just won’t be having a sweet treat to go with it that’s all.

Have you given up anything for Lent?