06 Mar Lent: Healthy Habits
This lent, instead of giving up and restricting unhealthy habits, could you think about taking up healthy habits to improve your lifestyle?
Lent is a time when many Christians observe a period of fasting, moderation, self-denial or spiritual discipline during the time between Shrove Tuesday and Easter.
For those that don’t observe Lent for religious reasons, this time can take on a different meaning. In magazines there are articles such as “Six foods a nutritionist would give up for Lent” or, “How to give up chocolate for Lent”. This can turn the 40 days before Easter into a time to undergo an extreme form of dieting, restriction or deprivation.
But what if we are trying to achieve a more balanced approach to eating? Categorising foods as “good” and “bad” can often only intensify cravings for the “bad” foods. Rather than taking this approach, it might be worth bearing in mind that all foods can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. However, if we notice that some foods that we eat can leave us feeling less energised, sustained or able to concentrate, we may want to be more mindful of how much and how often we are eating them.
This lent, if you feel ready and want to use the support from other people observing Lent, that’s fine – go for it! But perhaps rather than restrictive ideas, for some people, it might be a little kinder for our minds and bodies to think about taking up healthy behaviours instead!
Cook a different recipe each week
There are numerous benefits to doing more home cooking:
- Increase our confidence and skills in the kitchen.
- Add more fruit or vegetables into our meals.
- Monitor how much sugar, salt or saturated fat we are adding to our food.
- Spending more time socialising with friends and family whilst we cook and eat.
- Save money!
Eat one more piece of fruit and veg
We all know that eating fruit and veg is good for us. This doesn’t mean we have to go completely vegan or plant-based. Eating just one more piece of fruit and veg each day can increase our intakes of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Why not try adding some sliced banana on your toast or mixing berries into your yoghurt? Fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruit and veg all count so the possibilities are endless! Just be mindful that canned fruit and veg can contain added syrups or salt.
Make time for movement
The benefits of keeping physically active are endless. Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression and more. It is recommended that adults should try and achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
If exercising every day sounds a little daunting, why not try thinking about minimising the amount of time spent sitting instead? This could include going for a ten minute walk in your lunch break or getting off the bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way home. Once this feels like part of your routine, you might feel ready to take it up a notch! This could include:
- Starting the Couch to 5k programme.
- Finding out what activities are available in Oxfordshire.
- Trying a new class at your local gym each week
- Trying the Achieve exercise videos on Facebook!
Have one more drink free day
Drinking more than 14 units a week can increase the risk of developing future health problems. Some people find that having a day free of alcohol can help them to cut down on their alcohol intake and also their calorie intake.
If you would like to find out more, why not visit the One You website? You can find out more about units and calories in alcohol, or download the Drink Free Days App to receive support and practical advice to change drinking habits.
If you’re feeling motivated to make healthy lifestyle changes this lent, why not think about some healthy behaviours you could take up, rather than thinking about things to give up. It’s surprising that a small change to the way we approach things can have a big impact on how achievable we think they might be!
Are you looking for more support? It takes less than two minutes to apply for one of our free weight loss programmes. Visit our Get Started page to find out more.