Stuff to give up for lent for your health and well being

It’s good to have a focus around changing the way you eat. For many people the New Year’s resolutions will be fading away now with varying degrees of success or failure. If you didn’t succeed in your endeavour then, lent provides another opportunity to reset your goals, reframe your targets, get some measurements done and decide what you are going to avoid for this 6 week period. 

Before you decide it’s necessary to do some goal setting and take a step back looking at your life as a whole. Most people have some level of imbalance in their life, which can bring a better sense of well-being once it’s addressed. This might not be nutritionally related it might be work life balance or not spending enough time with family. For others it can often be an excess in a poor food group or toxin intake from alcohol or cigarettes – people still smoke!

Taking some time to do your goal setting properly is key and the old SMART method still has legs. It’s amazing how many people neglect just a simple part of this method. For those who don’t know it stands for specific e.g. I will give up fast foods, measurable (don’t eat them till after lent), agreed (get someone to tell about your choice) realistic (can it be done)? And timed (well this is timed for the lent period). 

If you are giving something up for health reasons, in terms of health, there’s only a few things which can go wrong in the body – you can be taking in the wrong nutrients or foods, failing to process toxins, the immune system can get faulty plus communication can go wrong between cells. Finally the muscle, joints and body structures can go wrong. Pretty much all if this is influenced by our environment and food intake. So when looking through a clients diet and blood results I can help them make a choice in terms of the best thing to cut down on or avoid all together. Normally people know what it is they are doing too much of which is hampering their health and fitness gains.

Commonly people choose alcohol or chocolates. In my mind whenever you give something up you should try to replace it with something else, otherwise you get a sense of withdrawal, deprivation or loss. For example giving up booze? – then go to an evening training session or practice yoga instead. Stopping milk chocolate – start eating dark chocolate – yes it’s good for you. Get the 80%+ version to avoid excess sugars or better still get cocoa nibs – the raw form of chocolate. This process is called using skill power over will power. Will power will normally always prevail. Not thinking about eating or drinking something cause you are doing something else is normally a lot easier for people.

Most people interested in losing fat I suggest they give up ‘Processed carbs’ for Lent.

If you just make this one change and stop eating;

  • Sugars
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • cakes and pastries
  • wheat
  • soft drinks and fruit juices
  • Rice
  • Pizza
  • Alcohol


Basically if it’s in a brightly coloured box, don’t eat it, if there’s any kind of character associated with selling you the product e.g. a tiger or clown, don’t eat it. Generally speaking if it’s on telly it’s a good idea not to eat or drink it. In fact that’s a great idea for lent I think I might just try it. In terms of what do we replace these things with, well have a look at this food exchange list and try shopping from markets, local shops, or food delivery schemes to save some money and avoid the temptations of the super market isles.

Another idea around good foods to give up for lent are foods which might be more associated with treats, fast foods and take aways might be your choice. You might want to give the money you normally spend on these to a charity of your choice or sponsor an endangered animal of some sort. 

In terms of what you get back, you will be amazed at the difference there will be in 6 weeks time.  You’ll feel healthier, you will be leaner and you’ll have more energy.

Grab a copy of my sheet ‘How to lose weight

Print a few copies off and then stick them up and keep them with you for reference.

Here’s the food exchange list;




PROTEIN                                             VEGETABLE                             FAT


Chicken                                               Alfalfa Sprouts*                     Almonds

Turkey                                                 Artichoke                                Almond butter

Lamb                                                   Asparagus                               Avocado

Halibut                                                Beetroot                                 Cashews

Cod                                                      Peppers                                   Flaxseeds

Tuna                                                    Bok Choy                                Olive oil

Salmon                                                Broccoli                                   Pecans

Mackerel                                            Brussels Sprouts                     Pumpkinseeds

Wild Game                                          Cabbage                                  Sesame seeds

Omega Eggs                                        Cauliflower                             Sunflower Seeds

Protein powder                                  Celery*                                    Walnuts











                                                            Water Chestnut


This list is not exhaustive, there may be other items which are closely related the food groups; e.g. cabbage can be any type Savoy, Red etc.  Exotic meats may also be chosen and these are now becoming more widely available – these include ostrich, buffalo, and game.

*Unlimited amounts may be eaten

To flavour your food use herbs and spices, herbs and spices include pepper, chili (capsaicin), paprika, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, dried herbs of all descriptions.

Aim not to use more than a tablespoon of these types of condiment for you meals.