Derrick W. Spell, MD FACP
Use The Quarantine & Lent To Your Advantage!
Growing up in a Methodist family, we didn’t really observe Lent. However, I am quite familiar with the concept of Lent since I live in south Louisiana. Marrying into a Catholic family gave me the opportunity to learn much more about the Lenten season. I would like to share some of the Lenten facts I have learned and how they can be applied to successful weight loss. I will also highlight the exceptionality of this Lenten season as it relates to the quarantine.
According to catholic.org, the three traditional pillars of Lenten observance are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These three pillars are also advantageous for weight loss and overall good health. More time given to prayer will draw you closer to God and your faith. (Thanks to the numerous restrictions imposed throughout the quarantine, we all have more time to spend in prayer during this Lenten season!) A stronger faith and belief system will help to reinforce your growth mindset during your weight loss journey. Fortunately, prayer and a growth mindset both work regardless of your specific religious denomination.
Fasting is one of the most ancient practices associated with Lent. Traditional Lenten fasting does not mean going without eating - it just means eating markedly less! It is suggested to avoid snacking and to eat one full meal and two smaller meals. The daily goal is a total food intake of less than two full meals. Catholics are also expected to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent, including Good Friday. Abstinence from meat is intended to link one to the poor, or those who can seldom afford meat for their meals. If you remember the rationale of abstinence, you can then “embrace it as a spiritual link to those whose diets are sparse and simple.” In south Louisiana, where seafood is abundant and delicious, some don’t see this as a sacrifice. However, when the intention brings awareness, it can be seen as supportive.
Almsgiving involves giving to others or sacrificing for others. This Lenten season is a great opportunity to help others while helping yourself at the same time. Since dining out is not an option, bring your lunch to work each morning and make dinner at home more often. Donate the money you save to your local food bank or favorite charity. This simple act will not only help others in need, but also make it easier for you to eat healthier!
We may never have another Lenten season that provides this much time to better ourselves and to help others. Since you will be spending more time at home during the quarantine, reflect on the three Lenten pillars each day. Pray a little more. Eat a little less. Give a little more. And even after the Lenten season and quarantine ends, I offer one more humble suggestion – live and eat each day like it’s Lent! This simple advice can help anyone lose weight and live a healthier, more fulfilling life!