The season of Lent is upon us, and many faithful are using fasting or abstinence as a way to increase their spiritual connection to God and whichever belief system they prescribe to.
Fasting is the reduction of one’s intake of food and abstinence is refraining from certain types of foods.
These restrictions have made me think about the variety of diets popular in this day and age, since both fasting and abstinence are common when trying to lose weight as well as for religious reasons.
The multitude of diets popular today disagree completely on which food groups to cut out and how much food to consume per day.
We broke down every current diet to see what the rules are and what their followers’ typical meals look like.
LCHF: Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat (Banting and Ketogenic Diets included)
Basic ideas: By restricting carbs, the body doesn’t have enough energy to fuel it and instead starts to burn stored body fat (known as going into a state of ketosis).
Cut out: food high in carbohydrates (grains, pasta, rice, fruit, refined sugar, processed foods)
Focus on: protein, vegetables, food high in fat (dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, oils)
Basic ideas: Humans haven’t yet evolved to eat processed food that came into existence after the agricultural revolution and our bodies can only process what we ate in hunter-gatherer times.
Cut out: food that comes from the agricultural times (dairy products, grains, pasta, rice, processed foods, refined sugar)
Focus on: anything that our ancestors would have eaten in the pre-agricultural/hunter-gatherer times (meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, oils)
Basic ideas: Eating animals is wrong for ethical, religious or health reasons.
Cut out: all animal flesh (meat, poultry, fish)
Focus on: every food group other than meat (fruits, veggies, eggs, grains, rice, dairy products, pasta, nuts)
Basic ideas: Eating or using any animal products in food, clothing, makeup, etc. is wrong for ethical, environmental and health reasons.
Cut out: all animal products (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, honey)
Focus on: anything that doesn’t come from the exploitation of an animal (fruits, veggies, grains, rice, pasta, nuts, pulses, tofu, tempeh, seitan)
Fun fact: The difference between plant-based and vegan is that vegans can eat refined sugar and processed foods such as French fries and Oreos, while plant-based eaters choose to munch on whole, natural foods.
Basic ideas: Humans should avoid processed foods in favor of whole, natural foods that mostly consist of plants. Most/all of what you eat should be foods that are grown in the ground.
Cut out: all animal products and all foods that are highly processed (meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, refined sugar, white flour, processed foods)
Focus on: whole foods coming from plants that are minimally processed or not at all (fruits, veggies, grains, rice, nuts, pulses, seeds)
Basic ideas: The human body can more easily process and digest food when it is in its most natural, unprocessed state.
Cut out: any food that is processed or cooked (baked goods, bread, cooked meat, cooked veggies, cheese, most dairy products, refined sugar, supplements)
Focus on: food that has never been processed, cooked, or pasteurized (raw fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, sprouted or soaked grains, raw fish, raw eggs, or raw meat)
In addition to the popular diets of today, there are a variety of fasting methods marketed to people trying to lost weight, promising health benefits and slimmer figures. Many encourage not eating for a portion of the day, usually when you’re sleeping, and then abstaining from food through part of your waking day as well.
Some of the stricter fasts are not for the faint of heart. The 5:2 diet balances eating normally 5 days of the week with only eating 500-600 calories on the other two days. In my opinion, any way of eating that severely restricts calories is not part of a healthy lifestyle and should be avoided. However, many slimmers are willing to try intense fasting in hopes of losing a bit of body fat.
Some people go overboard in their quest to shed that extra pound. Whichever diet you prescribe to and whatever food group you abstain from in your daily life, remember that there are more important things than what we cut out of our diets. Many people are so focused on the physical wellness trends, like raw food diets and new exercise fads, that they forget that mental and emotional wellbeing is just as, if not more, important.
In the spirit of Lent, even if you aren’t religious, focus on cutting out negative influences from your life instead of certain food groups in hope of a trimmer waistline. After all, health is essential, but your inner life and the way you treat others is even more so.
Pope Francis’s Words:
Do you want to fast this Lent?
Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
AUTHOR: Nina Duffy