What to give up for lent?

Health  |  By


Whether for religious reasons or not, Lent is the perfect time of year to ditch a habit that you feel is having a negative effect on your life. Plus, if you can give something up for 40 days, chances are you can give it up for good. Are you up for a challenge?

If there is one thing that could be affecting your health without giving you anything much in return, it’s sugar. It is full of empty calories that, those of us with a sweet tooth know, are addictive. It is contributing to our obesity crisis and the rising rate of type 2 diabetes, not to mention tooth decay and more.

Nature’s sugar, most often found in fruit, is packaged up with plenty of nutrients and fibre but we have managed to extract sugar from the goodness it was associated with and
bundle it up with processed carbs and bad fats. We have turned it into junk food which adds nothing to our health…and only temporarily boosts our energy and sense of satisfaction which often nose-dive soon after a sugary snack.

So, how about challenging yourself to stick to the World Health Organisation recommendations of only 6 teaspoons (24g) a day of added sugar? That means any sugar other than that found in whole fruit and milk – and includes the hidden sugars in bread, pasta sauces and loads more processed foods. Check labels carefully! Beware – honey, fruit juice, maple syrup and the like are all just sugars too,  though many manufacturers proudly proclaim them as ‘natural sugars’ to dupe us into thinking they are better for us. They’re not!

What’s the benefit?

It’s hard to ditch an addictive habit….but if you can stick with it you will soon notice the upside of more stable blood sugar levels without the ‘sugar crashes’ that have you heading for the chocolate counter or doughnut stand. You will probably sleep better and be less tired during the day. You may see improvements in your skin and waistline and start to appreciate the sweetness of fresh fruit instead.

Can’t face the prospect of life without sugar?

It’s only 40 days. There’s nothing to stop you going back to your sugary treats once Lent is up. But, the thought may be less tempting by then. Once you have seen the benefits of slashing the sugar you may well find you are happy reserving sugar for an occasional indulgence rather than a daily necessity……and your body and mind will thank you for it!

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