Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Lent begins at midnight

For the seventeenth year in a row, I shall be engaging in Lenten fasting. The purpose - strengthening Will, cleansing the Body, purifying the Soul. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Until Easter Sunday (which this year falls on 23 March), I shall not partake of many foods and beverages that I regularly enjoy. I continue the fast across all six Sundays in Lent.

Here's the total list:
  • Alcohol (alcohol free beer - rather than merely low-alcohol beer - is OK
  • Caffeine (including black, green, white and jasmine teas). Fruit infusions are OK
  • Salt snacks (crisps, salted peanuts, tortilla chips, etc.
  • Salt (additional to what is naturally found in foodstuffs). The salt shaker is eschewed.
  • Chocolate and confectionary (other than chewing gum)
  • Biscuits and cakes
  • Butter (to be replaced by Flora Pro-Activ)
  • Fast foods of all types (chips, burgers, pizza etc, etc)
Those above are the ones I've foresaken each Lent for the past 16 years. Additionally, last year I also gave up:
  • Meat and poultry
This year, I shall be going totally vegan, giving up:
  • Cheese and other dairy products
  • Fish, seafood.
That's it. Hard task for a bon viveur such as me, but do-able. I'm not going to get obsessive about checking whether a soup is made on meat or poultry stock or whether something contains traces of animal product. But I will be carefully sticking to the above proscriptions.

What will I be eating/drinking?
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Soya-based products
  • Fruit juices
  • Fruit teas (caffeine free)
  • Vegetable soups
  • Bread and crispbreads
  • Still mineral water
  • ...Er, that's it.

For the record; I've just weighed myself; I weigh 75kg (11st 11lbs). This gives me a Body Mass Index of 23.7, as I'm 178cm (5ft 10ins) tall. A BMI of 23.7 is well within the 'normal range' (18.5 to 25). My girth at the waist is exactly 100cm (39 1/4"). Too much - I shall start doing sit-ups again. Not too many at first - will build up slowly. Blood pressure (last taken a few minutes before setting off for the airport, and a bit stressed) was 142/93, pulse 102. All too high; interesting to see if cutting out salt from my diet will lead to a reduction. I also get my blood cholesterol measured during Lent. Last year it was 194, an entirely acceptable count (below 200 is "desirable level corresponding to lower risk for heart disease").

Towards the tail-end of Yuletide or Xmas, I find myself yearning for the start of Lent. I associate it with the onset of spring. Doing Lent annually creates a natural pattern of the year, lean weeks, fat months. Both Moni and Eddie were conceived during Lent.

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