NutriSense Blog
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Build Healthy Habits During Lent

March 16, 2022
Written by
Team NutriSense
Brooke McKelvey

You probably already know a little bit about Lent! But just in case: Lent is a religious season in preparation for Easter. The Christian holiday lasts for 40 days, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday. It’s a time of fasting, prayer, and reflection.

Many use this period to give up something they enjoy, such as smoking or eating certain foods, in a bid to focus on their faith. Others use this time to take on a new challenge, such as volunteering or reading the Bible daily.

The History of Lent

Crown of Thorns on Bible

Lent has its roots in the Bible, commemorating Jesus' time spent in the desert preparing for his ministry. It’s a time of introspection and reflection when Christians remember the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his ministry. According to Christian belief, it's also a time to examine your own life and make sure you're living according to God's will. Over the years, different traditions have developed around Lent, such as giving up certain foods or activities. 

Some Common Lent Traditions

a bowl of porridge and a glass of water

What comes to mind when you think of Lent? For many, it's a time of giving up certain foods or habits. Many choose to give up something during Lent as a way of sacrificing for their faith. For some, this may mean giving up a favorite food or activity. No matter what your traditions are, Lent is a great time to focus on your faith. Some folks observe Lent by going to church more often or giving charity. Others may use Lent as a time of reflection and introspection.

The three things that those who observe Lent focus on include:

1) Short fasting periods or giving up a favorite food or habit, prayer, and charity.

2) Abstaining from eating meat on Fridays for the duration of the Lenten season.

3) Fasting throughout the entire Lenten season, beginning on Ash Wednesday.  

How to Have a Healthy Lent

a plate of an apple walnuts, dried apricots, raisins

It can be difficult for some people to stick to tradition or figure out how to celebrate Lent. For example, fasting and giving up certain foods can be challenging, especially when trying to maintain specific health goals. Here are some tips from our team to help you observe Lent without ignoring your health:

  • If you want to honor Lent traditionally, try intermittent fasting in the evenings. Studies show that your body regulates blood sugar better earlier in the day. So by fasting in the evenings, you may help your body even out its blood glucose levels. 
  • If you want to give up a particular food this Lent, try giving up something you know isn’t supporting your health. Consider things like processed foods, refined carbohydrates, or sugary drinks. 
  • When you observe “meatless Fridays,” make sure that you get some protein in your system. There are plenty of protein-rich foods that you can substitute, like legumes, eggs, fish, or nuts. 
  • This year, add a habit to honor your body, like a new exercise routine or meal prepping routine. 
Brooke McKelvey

Monitoring Your Blood Sugar During Lent

someone looking at their glucose data in the NutriSense app

If you have diabetes, a chronic illness, or struggle with blood glucose control, holidays like Lent can also be a time of stress. So how can you observe holidays like this without putting your health at risk? By monitoring your blood sugar levels and following a few simple tips, you can avoid dangerous blood sugar swings.

Keeping your blood sugar levels steady during Lent can be a challenge, but it's a good time to try out some new ideas (like the tips we listed above). It can also be helpful to utilize technology like CGMs to monitor your blood sugar levels as you change habits. 

If you want to use Lent to make positive changes in your diet and lifestyle, consider working with a nutrition specialist. A registered dietitian can help you identify the best foods or lifestyle habits to give up for Lent. They can also identify new habits or foods that may be good to add to your routine. 

Our Favorite Lent-Friendly, Healthy Recipes

Are you giving up meat, trying to cut out caffeine, going easy on the desserts, or avoiding alcohol? Whatever you choose to cut out, you don’t have to rifle through old salad recipes or live on grilled cheese. Instead of suffering through the season, consider spending some time cooking up a storm in the kitchen instead. Pick from meat-free meals, delicious healthy dinner recipes, and mocktails from this list of lent-friendly recipes we love.

Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos

a plate of Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos

If you’re going meat-free for lent, try this delicious recipe. It sounds strange, but it’s delicious. We wouldn’t have thought of pairing butternut squash with tacos either, and it may not satisfy any cravings for authentic Mexican food. But if you’re stumped for ideas and want to try something unique, this one’s for you. It also includes purple cabbage, cilantro, black beans, and avocado-loaded guacamole that also pairs well with other types of tacos (fish tacos, anyone?!).

Salmon Burgers

Salmon Burger on a plate

Can’t eat your favorite cheeseburger because you’re going meat-free? Consider a tasty salmon burger instead. The obvious option is frozen salmon burger patties sandwiched between some burger buns if you're looking for a quick fix. But if you’re looking for an easy recipe that tastes like a gourmet meal, this is a good option. The healthy meal has a lemon-dill twist, with some Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce adding a burst of flavor.

Moroccan Vegetarian Stew

a bowl of Moroccan Vegetarian Stew

If you’re trying a fish and meat-free lent, this one’s for you. Forget side dishes; this veggie-filled treat is the main dish of our dreams. It’s an easy recipe that you can whip up on a weeknight, then pop the leftovers in the refrigerator for later. It’s a comfort food filled with heady spices like cilantro and red pepper. The hearty veggies in this stew include potatoes, butternut squash, zucchini, carrots, and garbanzo beans. It’s a stovetop meal, but you can also make it in a crockpot or your slow cooker. Get inventive with this one: add some lentils to thicken it, or experiment with different veggies. And if you’re watching your carbohydrate intake, you can sub out cauliflower for the potatoes.

Lime Rickey

a glass of Lime Rickey

It’s not easy picking just one mocktail—we love so many. But if we had to choose, this one’s a hot favorite at the moment. It’s refreshing and so simple you’ll be making it over and over again. And with spring right around the corner, the lime and seltzer drink is the perfect lent-friendly treat.If you’re watching your blood sugar, opt for less simple syrup in this one. 

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Carrot Cake

Sugar-Free Carrot Cake on a plate

Did you give up chocolate, gluten, and sugar? Don’t worry; there is a healthy recipe for a dessert you can still indulge in. Filled with the goodness of coconut flour, carrots, and cardamom, this is an easy recipe that tastes much better than it sounds. It does contain Erythritol sweetener, which you can swap out for whatever your body tolerates best.

Of course, this is just the beginning. You can pick from fish fillets to meat-free lasagna, from grilled scallops to Mediterranean mussels, and so much more. Remember, as you give up foods for lent, make sure you add in other types of food to balance things out, so you’re still getting the nutrients your body needs.

Since everyone has different needs, it’s a good idea to work with a dietitian to ensure you have a healthy Lenten season.

Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense

Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.

Click here to listen to the podcast.
Listen to the full podcast:
Build Healthy Habits During Lent
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The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

NutriSense dietitian Katrina Larsen, MS, RD,N, LD, CDCES discusses the risk factors for sleep apnea and how this disorder is linked to other health conditions.

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5
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The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels
The Paleo Diet and Blood Glucose Levels

The premise of the paleo diet is that the body can handle a mix of meats, fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and complex carbohydrates better than processed meats, refined fats, grains and simple carbohydrates because it evolved to eat the first category as hunter-gatherers.

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8
min
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The Health Benefits of Winter Squash
The Health Benefits of Winter Squash

A common ingredient in cozy winter recipes, winter squash is one of our favorite foods this time of year. Read on to learn more about how it can benefit your health.

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6
min
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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love

Haven't finished your holiday shopping yet? Pick from this list of NutriSense-approved holiday gifts to find some great last-minute stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!

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8
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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love

Still haven't bought all your holiday gifts this year? Don't worry—there's still time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Read our guide for some great ideas!

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9
min
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The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose
The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose

Learn more about inflammation, how it affects blood glucose levels and what you can do to prevent and manage it.

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9
min
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The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet

Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.

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9
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The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes
The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are similar in usage, but pretty distinct in taste, texture, appearance, and even nutritional content! Read on to find out more about each one.

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8
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The Health Benefits of Living With Pets
The Health Benefits of Living With Pets

Did you know that living with a pet can do more than just put a smile on your face? Read on to learn all the ways living with pets improves your wellbeing.

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7
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The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices
The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to dishes, and also have a range of health benefits. Learn more about a few of our favorites.

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12
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The Health Benefits of Beans
The Health Benefits of Beans

Learn about the health benefits of beans and how they can help you live a healthier, longer life.

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6
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The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?
The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?

Review our guide to metabolic diets to help get a better understanding of what they are and whether they might be right for you.

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The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa
The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa

Learn about the traditions and nutrient-dense food commonly enjoyed during Kwanzaa. 

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9
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The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection
The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection

Have you ever wondered how your glucose levels might be connected to joint pain? We'll take a deep dive into this connection and share tips for reducing pain.

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10
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The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia

This article explores hypoglycemia in non-diabetics, how to manage symptoms through diet, and the advantages of glucose monitoring.

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6
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The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels
The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels

Take a look at how aging can affect your blood glucose levels.

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9
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The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Read on to learn more about vitamin D-rich foods and what you should include in your diet to make the most of this vitamin’s health benefits.

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10
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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

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8
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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

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9
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The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet
The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet

In this article, we break down what a low FODMAP diet looks like for beginners, and its potential benefits and drawbacks for gastrointestinal health.

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8
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The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis
The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis

When it comes to bone health, good nutrition is absolutely critical. Read on to learn what osteoporosis is and why some foods may increase your risk of or worsen the condition.