29 APRIL, 2013

Fasting is beneficial when you have a complete and balanced diet!

For many, the fasting of Lent is a period in which one detoxes their body from the general consumption of animal products that typically occurs during the rest of the days of the year. This means that we remove from our daily diet all animal products, such as dairy, meat, fish and eggs. And, in order to compensate for the dietary and energy loss, we usually consume more fruit and vegetables, pasta and bread, legumes and olive oil based meals. This change in our eating habits may only last a few days in a given year, however, it can be a cause for a more balanced and healthy diet all year round, not only during the fasting period.  

Read about the benefits of fasting:

The diet plan and recommendations during the fasting period resemble those of the Mediterranean diet – one of the healhiest diets in the world. During Lent we observe:

  • Increase in the intake of fiber, which are responsible for the smooth functioning of the digestive and cardio system and the reduction in the incidence of colon cancer.
  • Increase in the intake of micronutrients with antioxidants such as, Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which enhance the immune system, protect the body from the negative effects of free radicals by guarding blood vessel walls and protecting the body from various cancers.
  • Increase in the intake of vitamins from the Vitamin B complex, which are associated with the proper functioning of our nervous system and beyond.
  • Increase in the intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which improve heart and nerve function, as well as, our body’s lipid profile.

However, due to the exclusion of two basic food groups (dairy and meta) from our diet, there is an increased likelihood of having a deficit in specific nutrients, such as:

  • Proteins: We typically receive them daily from animal products. Adequate intake of proteins is responsible for the normal growth and maintenance of muscle tissue in the body.
  • Calcium:  The fasting diet fails to provide the necessary amount of calcium to the body, primarily because of the lack of dairy products, as well as, the low bioavailability of calcium in food of plant origin.
  • Iron: A very important ingredient, which helps to better oxygenate the body and provides energy. It is especially important for children, athletes and active individuals. The lack of meat and animal products could cause problems for high risk individuals, such as women with a history of anemia.
  • B12: Contributes to the smooth production and development of erythrocytes. Reduction in intake could lead to the development of anemia.

More likely to develop health problems are specific groups such as: children and adolescents, women who are pregnant or nursing, athletes, women with a history of osteopenia or osteoporosis and women with a history of anemia.

See how you can only benefit from the fasting period, as well as, after Lent, provided you incorporate the following to your eating habits:

  • Include in your diet good quality proteins

Plant food that contain proteins of relatively «high biological value», meaning, that they present a consistency similar to that of meat, are legumes and nuts, seafood, rice, wheat, sesame, tahini, soy, mushrooms, especially when they are combined together (i.e. lentil-rice, mushroom risotto).

  • Increase the intake of foods high in iron and B12

Foods that will help you not experience deficits in iron and B12 during Lent are primarily seafood and then, legumes, nuts, sesame and spinach.

  • Find alternative sources of calcium

Good sources of calcium during the fasting period are nuts (especially almonds), halvas, sesame, tahini, soy milk and soy cheese and green leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, sorrel, broccoli.)

How to practically apply these instruction:

For you:

Main course:

  • Squid with spinach, elbow pasta with octopus, seafood risotto
  • Combinations such as, rice with lentils, rice with chickpeas, mushroom risotto


  • Green leafy vegetables (brocolli, spinach) with sesame
  • Seafood salad


  • Unsalted nuts, almonds, nougats

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