2 MAY, 2013

Transitioning from fasting to Easter feasting

The sudden transition from a period of fasting during Lent or Holy Week to a heavier diet after Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday can sometimes come with some dangers. For this reason, the transition should not be too sudden and should be accompanied by certain basic dietary instructions, so issues with the smooth body function can be avoided, especially during the dinner on Holy Saturday. On the one hand, Holy Satuday’s dinner takes place late at night, which means that there is decreased physical activity and on the other hand, it follows a period of fasting. It is necessary to follow certain basic instructions during the celebratory feasts that will give everyone the opportunity to enjoy themselves, without exaggerations and physical problems. Just as our daily eating habits, our diet during the holidays should be lack in quality and should be somewhat controlled. So, we suggest:

  • On the afternoon of Holy Saturday and on the night of Easter Sunday consume light meals, with fruit and vegetables.
  • In your magiritsa (traditional Easter soup with liver) add more vegetables or opt for chicken soup instead, for a lighter choice
  • Always eat from what you have served on your plate and do not sample from the various dishes on the table.
  • Remove visible fat (such as skin) from the meat.
  • Opt for goat, which has less saturated fats (although it has tougher meat), rather than lamb.
  • Consume plenty of vegetables with every meal.
  • Opt for traditional cooking methods, such as a spit, compared to cooking in the oven, in a hull etc, so that the fat from the meat is removed during roasting on a spit and does not remain in the cooker.
  • Choose recipes for biscuits or tsoureki (traditional Greek sweet bread) that in lieu of butter use margarine. This way you can reduce saturated fat intake and cholesterol.

Who are most at risk

People with high levels of uric acid

The consumption of meat from lamb, intestines and sweetbreads, as well as maritista, have as a result the increased intake of purines, which are substances that produce uric acid during the metabolic process. Increased intake of alcohol contributes even more to high levels of uric acid in the body.

Individuals with high or on the cusp of high uric acid levels must limit or avoid the consumption of intestines, sweetbreads (i.e. magiritsa, kokoretsi) and alcohol.

People with problems in the stomach and/or intestines

Perhaps the the most frequent problems occurring on Easter Sunday or the following days are gastrointestinal, especially bloating, flatulence, indigestion and constipation. This is due to the fact that during Lent ones diet consists of very little animal fat, which decrease and slow down the rate of gastric emptying, while at the same time, the increased intake of carbohydrates, mainly in the form of fiber, increases both the speed of food transit through the stomach and intestinal motility. So, it is no surprise that the sudden shift into a diet that inludes all the animal fats of the festive, Easter table, creates problems in gastrointensical function.The fats prevents the emptying of the stomach, resulting in the accumulation of foods, which in combination with the reduced consumption of fiber, creates intense bloating, constipation and epigastric pain.

If you you are in this category, avoid eating heavy and big portions on Holy Saturday. If you cannot avoid it, limit yourself to magiritsa or some roasted meat without the skin, with plenty of salad and one boiled egg.

People with heart problems and high blood pressure

The forementioned sudden changes that occur from a lenten, light diet – which is easily digestible and rich in fiber, to an indigestible Easter diet, mainly because of the fat content and the amount of food, increases blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in increased burdening of the heart function. This fact, combined with the increase in sodium and salt from foods eaten at the festive table, can create serious problems in people with cardiovascular issues, such as heart failure, hypertension etc.

For those of you with a slightly high blood pressure or who have heart problems and cannot resist Easter delicacies, at least avoid large quanitites of food during your meals (espcially on Holy Saturday), do not add additional salt to your food, remove the skin and eat plenty of salad during your dinner and all meals in general.

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