A friend of mine had wanted to get together with our group of high school buddies on a Friday, and suggested we eat at a Korean restaurant. That only meant one thing: loads of samgyupsal. Suddenly another friend quips, “Sorry, no meat for me on Friday.” And then it hit us—oh right, it’s Lent.
Not eating red meat on Fridays is the most common form of abstinence practiced during this season. The practice is so prevalent that restaurants have to adjust by offering “Lenten specials”, which more often than not, is a fish dish. Typical. There are many other Lenten sacrifices people make aside from (or instead of) abstaining from meat. It can be as simple as lessening time spent watching TV, or something as altruistic as giving more alms to the poor. Still, abstaining from favorite foods remain a common sacrifice. If cutting meat out is not an option, what else can you sacrifice for the remaining weeks of Lent?
Chips. Drop that bag of chips the next time you head to the grocery. These mindless munchies may be a quick solution when you’re craving for something salty, but it comes at the cost of your health. Abstain from the salty crisps and opt for more natural alternatives like banana chips, dried mangoes, or even malunggay or kale chips. They offer the same crunch but with more nutrients.
Try: Take Root’s popular kale chips come in different flavors like vegan cheez and sour kream and chive.
Frappuccinos. With summer finally here, it gets more and more tempting to indulge in a cup or two. Not only does it give you that caffeine kick, it’s also ice blended, making it perfect for a hot, busy day. But even if you order the smallest size or modify the blend to make it “healthier”, it will still tend to have a high sugar content. If you’re looking for caffeine, switch to tea. Tea gives you the alertness from caffeine, without the energy crash hours after. Just add ice (and only ice) if you want something cooler to sip.
Try: Black tea has a higher caffeine content than other types of tea. Earl Grey is one of the most known types of black tea, but for a drink with a hint of spice, try Chai.
Alcohol. Abstaining from alcohol doesn’t mean subjecting yourself to a life of less fun. (Because alcohol isn’t the only way you can have fun at parties!) Heavy drinking can cause problems for your liver and heart. The next time you head out, order non-alcoholic beers, or opt for the relatively healthier wine instead. As with everything, the most important thing to note is to drink in moderation.
Sugar. Most of the food we consume everyday has sugar, and we may not notice. Pre-made barbecue sauce, ketchup, and even soups are some products we normally wouldn’t associate with sugar, but have it. White rice, bread, and even low-fat yogurt could have higher than expected sugar content. In a day, the average amount of sugar intake should only be from 25 to 37 grams. Cut the sweets out of your life: go for greek yogurt or munch on whole fruits instead of ice cream or candies. Instead of chocolates, which are already processed and have added sugar and other ingredients like milk, a healthier alternative would be cacao—that is, pure chocolate.
Try: If we’re talking about local cacao, Ralfe Gourmet and The Chocolate Chamber by Raquel T. Choa is often the top choice.