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7 Things to Give Up or Take Up for Lent

So the pancakes have been eaten, I'm feeling like a bit of a pancake myself really and couldn't be more ready to give up one or two things for lent.

You may be religious and treating this as a sacrifice for 40 days and even if you're not, it is a fantastic opportunity to make some lifestyle changes often with the support of people around you doing the same. The question is...what do we give up?....

Below are 7 ideas of things you can give up...or take on....

1 - Sugar, Sweets & Chocolate - Give It Up

The Challenge: The old classics and the most common, although it's harder than it seems. With special occasions, parties, dinners, bake sales these are everywhere. Be prepared to have your will power tested but it will definitely be worth it

The Benefits: Just think about how amazing you'll feel. You would be surprised by removing sugar from the diet how quickly you'll begin to lose weight, your sugar cravings subside, your complexion and skin improves and energy levels begin to normalise.

Tips: For those of you with a really sweet tooth or who get sugar cravings BioChromium is an amazing supplement, just one a day keeps cravings at bay (I didn't mean to rhyme there). For some more guidance on how to give up sugar and sugar addiction check out my blog on The Truth About Sugar

2 - Alcohol - Give It Up

The Challenge: For those of you who have done dry January, you may have a little practice here. As so many social occasions often revolve around alcohol it is often difficult, particularly in Ireland not to have 'just the one'. It really is possible to have a great social life without the bevies and get the best of both worlds.

The Benefits: There are many benefits to giving up alcohol for instance there is a huge amount of energy and sugar in beers, cocktails and mixers that we often forget how the 'liquid calories' add up to our waistline. We don't realise it, but many people even consume more than their daily allowance of calories in one night. We also forget that alcohol puts a huge amount of pressure on our liver, so by taking a good break from it we allow our bodies to detoxify and our livers to breathe again. Not to mention clarity, how amazing is it to wake up the next day feeling totally fresh and able to take on the day.

Tips: Why not try the amazing alcohol free alternatives such as the alcohol free gin from Silk Tree Botanicals, these alcohol free beers recommended by The Beer Club , O'Brien's Off Licence even have alcohol free sparkling wine.

3. Social Media - Give It Up

The Challenge: Let's face it we have a huge problem when it comes to social media, with an increasing number of young adults feeling addicted according to a recent study in the Netherlands. Another researcher Doctor Mark Griffiths describes in his article within Psychology Today, how in some individuals social media use has been associated with a number of psychological problems including anxiety, depression and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He also states how it can be a major problem when it "spills over into other areas of their lives" which could include driving and even socialising with friends.

The Benefits: Many of us use technology constantly each day, looking at computer screens along with our phones without knowing the consequences and that there are so many benefits from a 'technological detox'. Firstly, we are exposed to huge amounts of stimulating blue light through computers and phones which according to studies at Harvard University suppress the production of our melatonin (sleep hormone). This hormone is meant to increase throughout the day gradually preparing us to sleep at night as it gets darker, do you look at your phone hours before going to bed? Then that one's for you. Next our eyesight can deteriorate from constantly looking at text up close, in fact a study from University of Toledo discusses how phone exposure can damage the retina and lead to degeneration of one's eyesight. It's good to give those eyes a break.

Tips: Try getting in touch with reality, with nature and with those around us, go for a walk/run, meet up with that friend or family member. Join a class, get outdoors. Here are some suggestions from Discover Ireland as to what's happening around the country now and over the next few months.

4. Exercise - Take it Up

The Challenge: Okay it's been a crazy winter but the bright side is we're almost out the other side now with longer evenings and brighter mornings. There also has never been a better time to exercise with all sorts of classes out there from running and walking events/clubs, gyms, cross-fit, team sports (yes for adults too), social dance classes, pilates, yoga and pop up health events. With summer just around the corner, now is your time to go for it 😉

Benefits: Wow, where do I begin. Exercise can help in the prevention and management of many health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Remember as long as you are moving you are burning energy and every little counts so it's a great way to get in shape. You would be surprised once you get into a routine, how you learn to love it. For those with high amounts of stress, that would be most of us, exercise really is a great way to work it off, be it intense endurance training or gentle yoga (I prefer the second if I'll be honest). How about feeling good? Exercise has a huge impact on how you feel, secreting mood enhancing endorphins and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.

Tips: There are really fun activities everywhere, if you need some inspiration check out Ireland Active for upcoming events.

5. Giving Back - Take It Up

The Challenge: Life is busy, time is short so we often focus on ourselves and how these things will benefit us. Wouldn't it be nice to give something back, no matter how big or small. Whatever we can, as Tesco says "every little helps". It could be calling to elderly family or friends, volunteering for animal charities, soup kitchens, or helping out your friends in need (sometimes being there or even a phone call can make a huge difference).

6. Travel - Take it Up

The Challenge: Life, work and family keep us busy and it's not always convenient to up and leave or head off on holidays whenever you feel like. Life however is short and there's a lot of Ireland and the world to be explored, aim for little weekend breaks if time or money is an issue

Benefits: Planning or having a little or big trip planned gives you something to work towards, something to look forward to. Going somewhere different is also great to clear your head and to help you think more clearly. Try new food, experience new things and meet new people. The world is your oyster.

7. Meditation - Take it up

Did you know meditation is the new cool thing. Just kidding it's been around for hundreds of years but many of us are just realising it can be an extremely powerful and grounding practice

Challenges: We often think we're too busy for this kind of thing. Too busy to stop and just be. To sit with our thoughts and ask ourselves, how am I feeling? It's in making the time, approximately 20 minutes per day, that we really get in tune with ourselves and what our body needs.

Benefits: There are so many benefits to meditation again where to begin. Firstly it's great in treating anxiety, your mood and clarity, grounding us and can help reduce blood pressure. It can also help to improve sleep and thought processes and again it really puts us in tune with ourselves.

Tips: When beginning meditation for the first time, focus on the breath. There are many meditation classes and courses throughout the country (remember it's the new cool thing) so it's easy to learn.

Have a happy Lent and feel free to message me with any questions you may have,


Laurann O'Reilly - Nutritionist

About the Author 

Laurann has an Honours BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham, a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin, is an Associate Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society London, a professional member of the Celiac Society Ireland, is registered with the Institute of Public Health Ireland and fully insured

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About Us 

Laurann has an Honours BSc. Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Nottingham, a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from University College Dublin, is an Associate Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society London, a professional member of the Celiac Society Ireland, is registered with the Institute of Public Health Ireland and fully insured.

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