Yay Lent is over! Life finally returned back to normal this weekend with an extreme overconsumption of sugary, gluteny, & meaty deliciousness. It’s been a long 6 weeks and I think we’re all glad it’s over. Now we’ve had time to reflect we thought it would be nice to share it with you all.
Ed’s Vegan Life:
Lent is finally over and I’m left feeling many things, one of which is confused. I’ve never done Lent before, but I knew it was based on the story of Jesus in the desert fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. Using this nifty online calculator it seems that there are 46 days between the start and end of lent… I’m not sure whether I’m a moron or whether I’ve discovered the true secret of Lent which is that it’s actually 6 days longer then they tell you! It kind of reminds me of this.
Anyway, I’m glad I did it, it’s a good test of self-discipline and it has opened my eyes to a lot of different food options. I’ve never been a big consumer of dairy or eggs but I definitely eat a lot of meat – to me the ‘mea’ in meal stands for 'meat’ because I don’t really consider it a meal without meat. Over the last 46 days I’ve been eating lots of other things; chickpeas, hummus, beans, tofu and potatoes in order to replace meat and I’ve discovered that it doesn’t necessarily make the food boring!
Something that I’ve discovered is probably very similar to what Richard experienced with sugar – there is a lot of hidden dairy. There are lots more foods and sauces that you’d expect (or I guess, that I’d expect) to be dairy free or vegan that aren’t: any kind of sweets and a lot of baked goods (butter/gelatin – by the way, you know the plastic coating of pills? Gelatin. Mind blown.), honey, quorn!, some varieties of nuts and technically sugar!
I put on a little weight due to the increase in carbohydrates and fat that I was eating but all in all, very little difference between now and before in terms of how I feel. I broke Lent with the “Ribs, Chicken and Shrimp” from the Big Easy on King’s Road – it was delishhh (sorry to all my vegan homeboys out there…)
Anna’s Gluten-Free Life:
I do admit that my free-from was definitely the easiest choice out of the three but I have to say that it was highly satisfying sinking my teeth into a buttery croissant this weekend! In my day to day life I don’t eat massive amounts of gluten; pasta and bread aren’t a staple in my eyes but I was shocked to discover all the naturally gluten-containing foods! I thought it would be easy as I could eat cous cous and barley but turns out they were shunned to the back of the cupboard whilst I could munch away happily on polenta and quinoa. I found it quite hard as I like to mix it up and eat foods from around the world but Asian was out of the question because soya sauce contains gluten :(
I think for lots of restricted diets it’s fine if you cook from scratch as you can control exactly what’s going in and just use a gluten-free substitute if needs be. It’s when it comes down to grabbing a quick lunch when it becomes a problem – it took me ages reading the back of all the packs to find the options that I could actually eat! I definitely don’t envy those who have to do it day in day out.
The weirdest thing about my gluten-free existence was that I started craving sweet things! I couldn’t really work out why – maybe it’s because I wasn’t getting my usual carb fix which contains all those sugars?! Good job I work for a chocolate company… Overall I don’t feel much different to when I started but I have lost 1kg so it’s clearly doing something!
Richard's Sugar-Free Life:
Going sugar-free has been a real eye-opener for me. It hasn’t turned me into a hardcore anti-sugar warrior but it certainly has changed my opinion on the role that sugar plays in our daily diet. I really thought the hardest thing would be to give up sweets but actually after the first week that craving dissipated a fair amount. What I really found tough was the amount of daily savoury food products that contains sugar.
Items such as mustard (11% sugar), hot sauce and various other condiments were a big miss. Most ready meals and premade cooking sauces have sugar in and it just seemed a little unnecessary. It was really frustrating to not be able to eat lots of meals because it was more than likely that someone had pointlessly decided to add sugar.
I broke lent with an enormous piece of Baklawa from the Duke of York Square market. It was absolutely delicious…..but actually I wasn’t that excited about eating something sweet – my tastes have definitely changed slightly (although I’m not sure how long it’ll last). I was actually more looking forward to the Chinese takeaway I was going to have that night, having some crispy beef and not worrying about the fact that there was sugar (and probably worse…) in there.
In terms of results it was quite shocking – at one point I’d lost 6kgs, by the end I’d lost 4.5kgs overall. I do think that sugar is an addiction, I was probably worst than most in terms of the total amount I eat and it’s something that I’ll be much more aware of and try to control. Most importantly though it has reinforced my belief that overall self-moderation is the most important thing. If you want something sweet then have a bar of chocolate, just don’t have 25 bars. Do avoid unnecessary sugars, but don’t live life being afraid of treating yourself.
I’m off to finish a bag of Skittles….
So there you have it! Lent - tick. I think we'll stick to normal life for a while but who knows what next year will bring...