The season of Lent is a forty-day time period where Christians are meant to examine their sins and reflect in sacrifice.
It's a time where people cut out certain foods, drinks and other vices and replacing it with prayer, meditation and reflecting on their spiritual lives.
Lent period begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year fell on Valentine's Day, which was a conundrum for many who has decided to cut out alcohol, meat and desserts.
It is also the time Christians give up meat on Fridays for the roughly forty days leading up to Easter Sunday. Treated as a period of reflection and a time for fasting from food, we spoke to a registered dietitian, Nathalie Mat about her thoughts on how one can prepare his or her body for the lent period.
Mat said what happens in ones body during the fasting period depends very much on the type of fast.
“If we abstain from food and drinks, our bodies use what they have in store in the beginning. The longer the fast, the more our body will slow its metabolism so that we do not starve to death. We cannot go without water for very long without causing harm," she said.
Asked what people have to do to prepare for Lent, it turns out, not much.
"If you are giving up a favourite food for Lent, no preparation is required. If you are choosing something more restrictive, like Orthodox Greeks do when they eat basically vegan food for the whole of Lent, I would recommend stoking up on the foods that they would use more or like lentils and finding some inspiring recipes is also useful”, she said.
During the Lent period, most people give up ‘treat’ foods like alcohol, chocolate or baked beans. This means that their Lent diet is more balanced than usual. The Lent period does not need refined sugars like cool drinks or sweets, so those are a great option to leave out. Also giving up take outs and focusing on home made foods is also a positive step to take.
"But when it comes to food restrictions, each church varies. Some churches will also encourage a time of reflection and moderation. It is not recommended that people forgo eating. Unless your church is prescriptive about what you can or cannot eat, all foods are allowed”, said Mat.
She said a diet where less healthy foods are limited and focus on healthy foods is encouraged is going to improve health. She also finds that people appreciate the food they went without afterwards. Some people surprise themselves by giving up something they thought they “needed” to eat daily, while that is not the purpose of Lent and can be really empowering for some.
We sourced three recipes- one for breakfast, lunch and supper, to help you with your Lenten fast.