Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Penance for pancakes

Whilst I hope you all enjoyed your pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, I hope you also put some thought into what you're giving up in penance for your pancake day indulgence.

I always give something up for lent to break any bad habits and remind myself that I do have pretty good willpower. But even if you think it's a religious rouse it's actually a good time of year to be cleaning up your diet, much better than January.

Plus it ties in with Ms Haribo's small rewards model - a chocolate egg after 40 days of abstinence from your favourite treats may seem unbalanced, but it really does work as a motivator and the chocolate tastes so much better when you get to Easter.

Traditional lent involves no eggs, dairy, meat or sugar (including chocolate) - which is a pretty good list to follow, but is perhaps a bit too comprehensive for some.

Still lent has to be a stretch to count, giving up something you eat every couple of weeks doesn't really count, whereas something you eat, drink or crave every day will be a challenge and significant enough to make a positive impact on your health.

Here are the usual suspects if you need some inspiration
Chocolate/sweets (or all sugar if you are feeling brave)
Cheese (or all dairy if you can manage it)
Cakes/biscuits/baked goods
Salty snacks (crisps, doritos, salted nuts)
Wheat (or gluten as the tougher version)
Caffeine (tea or coffee, including green tea)

As you'd expect I follow a pretty healthy diet, but I'm not going to cop out, instead I'm giving up all of the above (yes all!) with one caveat - I may have a glass of bubbly on my birthday, which inconveniently is just a few days into lent.

There are also other non-food habits you can give up for lent:
- Eating in front of the tv
- Watching tv just before going to bed or first thing in the morning (it's a stressor)
- Skipping breakfast
- multi-tasking whilst you eat eg reading, talking on the phone, working
- finishing all the food on your plate rather than stopping when full
- getting the tube one stop when you could walk
There are plenty more I'm sure you can think of.

I personally am seriously considering giving up watching TV altogether. It's something I've done for lent in the past, with the exception of watching films at the cinema, and it's surprising how much time it frees up and how much more energy you have if you relax after work in silence.

The only thing holding me back is (please don't judge me!) missing out on the communal TOWIE watching in my flat. Having to shut myself away in my room whilst listening to the giggles from the living room may be too much to bear, even in exchange for a yummy easter egg.


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