It’s that time of the year again. Yesterday we filled our bellies with piles of yummy pancakes, meaning today Lent has kicked off, calling for us to give up an indulgence for the 40 days leading up to Easter. Whether you’re religious or not, Lent is the ideal time to ditch habits that you’ve wanted to rid yourself of, but haven’t been able to find the motivation for.
You’re free to give up anything that you deem fit, however for many of us this usually means food or drink. Not food in general of course, just the naughty kind…the type that tastes amazing, but unfortunately isn’t as amazing for our bodies. Yep…the best kind.
Whether chocolate, crisps, caffeine or alcohol is your vice, we’ve come up with a selection of healthy (but still tasty) food and drink swaps that will keep you going through Lent.
Only 40 more days left!
For a lot of us, chocolate is our biggest weakness, and therefore is one of the most popular choices when it comes to ditching a guilty pleasure for Lent. Doctors have been breathing down our necks for years about eating far too much sugar, so here’s your chance to get in their good books and improve your health.
Though it’s hard to rival the pleasure that chocolate can bring, there are plenty of tasty alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Frozen yoghurt bites – Pipe your favourite flavoured yoghurt onto a cookie sheet or an ice cube mould, and place in the freezer until solid, to create some tasty bite sized sweet treats, that will have you forgetting your chocolate cravings in no time.
Protein balls – Curbing your sweet tooth while packing a nutritional punch, these easy to make snacks are the perfect replacement for chocolate. From peanut butter, to banana flavour, there are plenty of recipes to choose from.
These fried snacks may be delicious, but boy do they play havoc with your waistline, skin and general wellbeing. They’re salty, fatty and addictive…so they have to go! The good news is there are tonnes of equally tasty options to fill that crisp shaped hole in your life.
Air-popped popcorn – As popcorn is a great source of fibre, it will keep you feeling full for much longer than a bag of salty crisps. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt or seasoning for some added flavour, without loading it with calories.
Kale chips – Whereas a bag of crisps can set you back over 200 calories, the equivalent in kale chips is just a mere 84 calories, plus they’re packed with vitamin A and C!
Takeaways have become as much a ritual, as a treat for many of us these days, with Friday night takeaways forming a sort of tradition in British culture. Unfortunately, as tasty as they are, they can quickly push you over your recommended daily maximum amount of salt and fat.
Though the main appeal of a takeaway is the minimal preparation required, replicating your favourite takeaway in the kitchen can save hundreds of calories, without compromising on flavour.
Homemade curry – It’s really quick and easy to whip up a takeaway style curry in the comfort of your own kitchen. You can create a healthier version of your favourite dish by packing it full of veggies, while limiting oil and cream usage. Even the classic takeaway sides are easier to make, than you may think!
Homemade fish and chips – Us Brits love a hearty chippy dinner, but unfortunately it’s one of the unhealthiest takeaway options on the market. Create a lighter version at home by coating the fish in breadcrumbs instead of batter, and making your own oven baked potato wedges, tossed in a small amount of oil and seasoning.
Do you rely on your morning coffee to get you through the day? Though it may be great for giving us that initial boost, with every caffeine high there is an inevitable energy slump shortly after. In fact, consuming caffeine on a regular basis can actually leave you feeling more tired in the long run, so if you’re beginning to feel a bit lethargic, it may be a good idea to cut it out of your daily routine. Not only will you feel more energised for it, but it will also help to lower your blood pressure and aid a better night’s sleep.
Peppermint tea – Peppermint tea is incredibly refreshing and the minty cooling sensation provides you with an invigorating pick me up in the morning, that will leave you feeling energised.
Lemon water – Ok it may sound a bit on the boring side, but starting your day with some hot water and lemon is fantastic for giving your body a detox, speeding up your metabolism and perking you up for the day ahead of you.
Swap: Fizzy drinks
We are a generation of fizzy drink addicts and where the full sugar versions can see you consuming hundreds of unnecessary calories, the diet versions are equally as bad, thanks to being packed with additives and artificial sweeteners. Lent is the perfect time to make the transition to a healthy alternative and kick that unhealthy habit!
Fruit juices – Fruit juices may contain a fair amount of sugar too, however they provide you with lots of essential vitamins that you won’t get from a fizzy drink. These should still be consumed in moderation however, as though the sugars are natural, they can still cause tooth decay and weight gain.
Sparkling water – If you’re craving your daily fix of fizz, swap the soda for a glass of sparkling water. Pop a slice of lemon, lime or orange in for some added flavour.
Though studies have found that a small glass of red wine a day can have health benefits, consuming too much alcohol can be incredibly detrimental and may even lead to problems with addiction in extreme cases. Not only this, but alcohol is packed with hidden calories that will quickly add up if you’re not careful. Use Lent to give your body a detox and you may even shed a few pounds along the way.
Ginger beer – Is beer your drink of choice? Swap the alcoholic version for some alcohol free ginger beer. Refreshing and strong in flavour, ginger beer may not provide you with the same buzz as real deal, but it’s a tasty alternative.
Elderflower – Swap your glass of wine or prosecco for a glass of sparkling elderflower, for a zesty and refreshing splash of flavour to accompany a meal or enjoy on its own.