Fasting is not meant to be done by eating tons of bread and 5 kilos of halvah in order to get full! Fasting has a deeper meaning that has nothing to do with food and diet but with your beliefs. Some people choose to fast from food… Others in their thoughts, words and/or actions… There are also those who are able to do both not once a year but all 365 days!! Each of us have our own way but one thing is for sure: Fasting is good for your health – at least that is what experts that have conducted research on how the human organism acts while fasting and after fasting. Quoting the wise words of the Greek philosopher Aristotle… “Everything in moderation”. This is still the main rule since, according to these experts, in no way, shape or form should you push your body to its limits with strict or severe diets that could quite possibly have a negative effect on your health.
What does this mean? It means that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way for someone to go on a fast. We will only concern ourselves with the first way.. the right way! Because, yes, it is good to fast but to fast in a proper manner is best of all! ;-)
Fasting in the past and in modern times…
Fasting began by complete abstinence from food and drink and it gradually changed and there were more choices and varieties. So while in its original form it was followed mostly in monasteries in conjunction with meditation and prayer, over time, fasting was “simplified” and someone could say they were fasting even if they didn’t keep away from all of the foods but only some specific ones. This eventually led to separating foods into two sections: Foods fit for fasting and foods not fit for fasting. Some of the most basic foods fit for fasting are vegetables, fruit, bread, nuts and olives. Foods that are not fit for fasting are the ones that are made with butter, oil, spices and wine.
The Great Lent or the Great Fast is the most important and the oldest fast of the Greek Orthodox Religion. It was established in the 4th Century and was given this name because it lasted for 40 days. The 40 days before Easter. Later, Holy Week was also added to this period. However, the fact is that Holy Week is not only not included during Lent but it is also a more strict fasting period. During Lent, always according to tradition, the consumption of vegetables is only allowed, without the use of oil. More specifically, no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, oil or wine is allowed. But on the weekends, oil and wine are allowed (apart from Holy Saturday, when theoretically nothing is allowed).
How… nutritious can a fast be?
Believe me, a fasting period can be one of the most nutritious periods, since foods fit for fasting can really offer many valuable nutrients. Would you like to take a look at some of them? Along with their nutrients I also have some amazing recipes for each type of food that is allowed, so that you can enjoy it even more!
Bread: Rich in carbohydrates, fiber, mineral salts and vitamins, bread is the main accompaniment for each dish (especially during a fast). Nevertheless, it should be consumed in moderation.
Beans: They basically replace meat and offer extra doses of protein, especially when combined correctly with other foods (lentils with rice etc.).
- Oven baked giant beans - Gigantes
- Falafel with mixed seeds
- Chickpea and vegetable stew with fried calamari
- Vegan moussaka
Seafood: They are microscopic but inside them you will find a plethora of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. They are rich in selenium and omega 3 fats that are so beneficial for your mind and heart..
- Octopus stew with egg noodles
- Lemon rice wiht mussels - Midopilafo
- Calamari and spinach orzo
- Stuffed calamari
- Shrimp souvlaki
Vegetables: The truth is… when you fast you eat more of the foods that really offer all of their vitamins and fiber that fight off bad cholesterol, triglycerides and high blood sugar levels while they help your bowel system and digestive system work better.
- Vegetable souvlaki
- Mushroom souvlaki
- Cauliflower and cranberry salad
- Vegan paella with mushrooms
- Pasta caponata with zucchini
Halvah: It contains quite a few B complex vitamins as well as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Halvah is undoubtedly an integral part of the… diet for Lent. The main condition for you to (only) get the good ones? Consume in moderation! Finally, you can enjoy it alone or in unique sweets that are fit for fasting!!!
Olive oil: Extra virgin and valuable for your health. It is directly connected to fasting and makes its appearance in almost every dish. It is rich in polyphenols, offers countless benefits to your health, as long as you don’t go overboard with the quantity on a daily basis.
Have you decided to fast? Do it in an (even) better way!
It’s up to you to decide whether or not you will go on a fast following the fasting protocol to the letter. But it may be helpful to keep a few more things in mind before you start fasting and also during the period of The Great Lent.
- If you are dealing with some health problem, consult your doctor before you begin fasting, since your doctor is the correct person to give you the best advice.
- Are you feeling bad? Then it is best to “listen” to your body and take a break from fasting.
- You can choose to fast but this does under any circumstance mean that the people around you should fast also. This is a personal decision and should not be forced on anyone – especially children! Fasting is a personal choice.
- Have you been faithful to your fast throughout the whole period of Lent? Then be careful not to jump straight into all the food on Easter Sunday. Prepare your stomach for Holy Saturday by eating a plate of soup (could be the traditional Greek magiritsa!) and on Easter Sunday, don’t let all of the Easter goodies carry you away to excesses that your stomach can’t handle.
Happy Lent to everyone!