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Good Living
March 20, 2017
Fasting during Lent : Benefits and Dangers

Easter is here again… One of the most important periods in the Orthodox tradition. Lent basically symbolizes the 40 day fast Jesus went through in the Gethsemane dessert and it literally means “The forty great days”. It was established in the 4th century and lasts 7 weeks. Preparation for the fast has come from the most ancient Christian fast, the “fortieth” or more simply Lent. Apart from the obvious religious reasons, Lent is a wonderful chance to fortify our discipline and choosing the proper foods that will help us strengthen our habits that keep us healthy.

Day

Foods that are NOT allowed

Foods allowed

All

Meat and Dairy products

Fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, rice, pasta

Monday - Friday

Fish, wine, olive oil, eggs, seafood

Fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, rice, pasta

Saturday/Sunday

Maybe olive oil, wine

Fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, rice, pasta

My dear friends, the fasting of Lent is a chance to begin a real quality diet but you very often ask me so many things and I hope I can answer all of them through this diary… So continue reading!!

Will I be excluding some nutritional ingredient?

Most of you ask me this question. While speaking with Kitchen Lab’s dietician/nutritionist we found that a careful choice in food can offer a high degree of nutritional completeness.

Following, I have chosen some indicative nutritional substances that are necessary for our health.

Iron:

Daily consumption of beans, seafood, rice or nuts can adequately meet our needs for iron. It is suggested that a deep plate of lentils with vinegar will offer almost as much iron as a medium sized pork steak or a chicken fillet.

Also, if you consume a cup of brown rice you can get an adequate amount of iron for the day. It is good to begin fasting having a good amount of iron stored in our body. Don’t forget that the less iron you offer your organism, the more iron it will retain from foods.

Calcium :

Calcium is also very difficult to go missing from your diet if you are careful the foods you choose to eat while fasting.

A good combination of beans, fruit, vegetables and sesame seeds can easily offer the necessary amounts of calcium you need. Drinking 2 liters of water a day will also give you a satisfactory amount of calcium daily (about 1/5 of the necessary amount)!

Indicative Chart with the content of calcium in various foods

Food

Quantity in g

Content in mg

Almonds

50

110

Spinach

100

50

Broccoli

60

18

Figs

100

500

Beans

100

70

Sesame seeds

50

351

Tahini

20

65

Protein:

You need about 50-60 g of protein daily which you can get from 1 deep dish of beans or legumes, 2 spoonfuls of peanut butter and 6 portions of whole wheat starchy foods (without any meat or dairy).

Will I gain weight?

Another subject which always pops up around fasting time is… Fasting is fattening!! The truth is that it is a very dangerous time and if you aren’t careful with the amounts of olive oil, starchy foods like fries, bread etc you consume as well as the sweets fit for fasting like semolina halvah, then you can definitely gain weight. If you are careful with how many calories you consume and don’t forget that exercise is also important during the fast.

Can everyone fast?

It would be smart for people suffering from serious illnesses like diabetes to consult their doctor before fasting. This also goes for people who have very recently undergone any surgical procedure. Finally, great care should be taken for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Don’t forget that the real meaning of fasting is to push away our “bad” self and to emancipate ourselves from the chains of injustice.

Be well and Happy Fasting to everyone!

Akis

This article was written in collaboration with Kitchen Lab’s dietician/nutritionist Christo Papavaggeli.

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