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Going on a Diet for Lent: Sacrifice or Selfish?

Is giving up ice cream or red meat for Lent, in an effort to drop a few pounds, in keeping with the holiday?

Lent began this week on Ash Wednesday. Aside from getting ashes on your forehead to represent repentance for sins, most Catholics refrain from eating meat as well, while some fast at various different levels.

If you are Catholic or familiar with Catholic traditions, you are aware with the idea of a “Lenten Promise.” This means for the next 40 days (leading up to Easter), you will make some sacrifice or take something on. Recently I've heard a lot about what people are "giving up" for Lent: red meat, sugar, coffee, desserts, ice cream, chocolate, alcohol, eating between meals etc. Some people that I know who don't even observe the holiday from a religious standpoint are using Lent as incentive to change their habits, "giving up" things they have been meaning to rid their lives of.

One can’t help but wonder, are people really observing Lent or using it as a way to go on a diet?

This question is interesting to me because it is so hard to decipher. In a way, I feel as using Lent as a way to go on a diet or drop those extra pounds is kind of missing the whole point of the season. However, as a healthy living advocate, I am a firm believer that any time and any reason is a good reason to get healthy and Lent is a great time to be grateful for the body we have and treat it right. In college, I gave up my insane soda habit for Lent. It was incredibly hard, but I did it and never looked back. I haven’t had soda for nine years!

Has my health improved by my giving soda up? I am certain it has. But, was that the point? No. But, I will admit it was a plus that I am really happy about. This year I have given up the snooze button, drinking coffee first thing in the morning and sleeping in on weekends. All of these things will be a big sacrifice for me. However, all will benefit me. Not hitting snooze will mean a much less rushed or stressed morning, having water before coffee will ensure better hydration and waking up early on the weekends will allow me more time to enjoy my days off.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t say that giving up something you love or consider a bad habit is sacrilegious because it will benefit you. Most sacrifices do end up bringing gain in the long run, or else we wouldn’t do it.  

Giving up something for Lent primarily because it is going to be a true challenge for you should be the way to go. If, in the end if benefits you, think of it as a gift.

D.Mix March 11, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Great article, very thought provoking!. GUILTY! I use Lent as a way to get back on track with eating well. Last year I gave up all meat, and 40 days turned into 7 months! This year, I'm kicking refined carbs to the curb! The way I see it is, just like New Years Resolutions, it's sometimes easier to challenge yourself when millions of other people are doing it too. Religion is a great incentive to give it a deeper meaning and you're more likely to stick to it. As a Catholic stand-point, I don't see it as selfish when you give up vices. Treating your body like a holy vessel and appreciating the gift of form 'created in His image', sounds like the perfect thing to do for Lent!
Amy March 11, 2011 at 06:27 PM
I agree with you completely. I'm not a catholic or religious at all, but it annoys me when all I hear about are people (especially non-religious) planning to lose weight or tone up by means of giving up sweets, or refined sugars and carbs in the name of Lent. It's okay to have goals, but don't try to glorify them by tacking them onto a religious observance. But of course, if you're giving up something for Lent and it also happens to be a health benefit, what a nice coincidence. :) I just don't think personal interests should be the main motivator.
gloriaperry12 March 12, 2011 at 06:20 AM
Looking for samples? I received the sample quickly. Thanks to 123 get samples for the samples. I can't wait to get another in the mail!

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