Why you shouldn’t give up food for Lent

February 27, 2017

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


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A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

Same song, different verse…

Every year I like to post about Lent.  Mostly because the meaning of it has become incredibly warped in our current culture.

Somehow the Lenten tradition of fasting for spiritual reasons has become another pointless diet.

The most common things I hear people talk about giving up for Lent: chocolate, candy, sweets, junk food, fast food, soda, alcohol, coffee, gluten, dairy, carbs.

Notice a theme? It’s all about food.  And not just food, but things the diet industry labels as “bad food.”


Why do Christians give something up for Lent anyway?

Giving something up during Lent is an ancient tradition.  It is intended to increase one’s devotion to God and connect us with our hunger for Jesus.  It is also meant to increase our compassion for those who live in poverty and are suffering.  The spirit behind the self-denial is intended for spiritual growth.  For people with eating disorders, their illness may latch on to this as a way to restrict.


5 things you could give up other than food

  1. Social media – This is what I will be giving up this year.  Bye, bye, Facebook.  You’ll still see my blog posts showing up on FB and Twitter (because they automatically post there from my blog site), but I will not be engaging over those channels.
  2. Gossip
  3. Netflix
  4. Shopping/spending on luxuries
  5. The car radio

Alternately, you could give up some of your free time to do charity work – a soup kitchen, picking up trash, sprucing up a park, helping an elderly neighbor with some spring cleaning, etc.


A note on fasting

If you have an eating disorder or a history of an eating disorder, then you are excused from fasting (i.e. the type of fasting where you don’t eat at all).  In fact, to do so would go against the teachings of religious leaders.

It is not appropriate for your health and wellbeing for you to be skipping meals or going long periods of time without eating.   The same thing for someone with diabetes or a pregnant woman – they would be endangering themselves by fasting.

It is up to you and your treatment team whether or not it is appropriate for you to fast from certain types of food during Lent or for other religious reasons (e.g. abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent).

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