“Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ; discipline your body; do not pamper yourself, but love fasting.” — Saint Benedict
I’ve seen many Lent themed diets in my social media newsfeeds. Lent comes in many flavours it seems including Paleo, grain free, sugar detox, vegan, and even pro ana. That’s really sad. I started reading some of the pro-ana forums and some of the young women use Lent as a religious cover for not eating. “My parents are really religious so I’m lucky. They’ll let me skip dinners for Lent.”
Lent as a diet challenge came up at the gym the other night as the women I was working out with discussed what they were giving up for Lent. Someone said to one of the women, “Oh, I didn’t know you were Catholic.”
“I’m not but I’m giving up sugar to lose weight. Seems like a good thing to give up.”
Tracy and I like challenges generally. See My new challenge! and Why I Like “Challenges” but I find it frustrating when people run together religious observance with diets. The Lunch Box Diaries puts it this way: “Please don’t tell me you’re “giving up sugar, soda, and carbs” unless you plan on praying about it every day. If you’re doing it to lose weight, it’s called a Pre-Easter Diet.”
What is Lent anyway? “Christians across the globe are entering Lent, the season of preparation before Easter. Starting on Ash Wednesday — which was March 5 this year — the 40-day period sees many Christians partake in a season of moderation, meditation, fasting and repentance. The exercises in discipline are undertaken to allow Christians time to reflect on the life, words and sacrifices of Jesus Christ.” From the IB Times.
In addition, to non-believers using Lent as some sort of 40 day diet challenge, there are also believers using religious themed diets. The so-called “Daniel Fast” diet is gaining popularity during Lent, when participants will eat only food from seeds, drink only water and practice daily devotions.
What do people give up for Lent? According to the Lent Twitter tracker, the top things are school, chocolate, Twitter (of course), alcohol, swearing, sweets, social networking, and soda.
And who gives things up? According to Christianity Today, “If you do give up something for Lent this year, you will join 17 percent of U.S. adults, according to a new survey by Barna Group. While many practicing Catholics (63 percent) are planning to fast, only 16 percent of practicing Protestants have similar plans. People born in 1945 or earlier are most likely to fast (26 percent), and people born between 1946 and 1964 are least likely (10 percent). About 20 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 say they will fast.”