Shape up your eating habits

Whether you use Lent to give something up or try something new, it’s a great time to ‘spring clean’ your diet. Here are five food ideas to try.

The 40 days of Lent start after Pancake Day and run up to Easter. It’s a time associated with giving up unnecessary luxuries and it comes at a good time of year – with winter behind us, it’s easier to curb unhealthy habits now than struggling with New Year’s resolutions in grey old January!

1. Make a carb swap

Switch ‘bad’ carbs for ‘good’ ones. Carbohydrates make you feel fuller for longer and help maintain stable blood and insulin levels.

  • Eat wholegrain instead of white bread.
  • Use brown rice instead of white.
  • Skip sugar in your coffee and satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit instead.

2. Eat earlier, if you can

This allows your digestive system more time to rest and gives you a better appetite for breakfast. This also discourages those telly-watching snacks later in the evening.

3. Keep healthy snacks handy

Keep hunger under control you won’t be tempted to buy fatty or sugary treats while you’re out. You’ll save money, too. Fill a little plastic pot with something healthy to snack on, such as sunflower seeds or carrot sticks, or keep an apple in your handbag. For inspiration, see Savvy snacks.

4. Hide the salt

Consuming too much salt can cause high blood pressure and other health problems. Don’t put salt out at mealtimes, and choose no- or low-salt versions of your favourite groceries, from breakfast cereals to ready meals and ketchup. After 40 days you won’t miss it!

5. Drink more fluids

On average an adult woman needs the equivalent of about eight 200ml glasses of fluid each day to help her body stay healthy and flush out waste. Quenching your thirst with non-alcoholic drinks like water and milk is preferable.

Making the period of Lent your 40-day target allows you enough time to see a difference in how you look and feel. For more support, see Reach your goals: diet.