Giving up for Lent

Lent is the second most common time when people try to make changes in their lives and have a ‘fresh start’. Lent is a period of 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday.


During the 40 days of Lent, Christians remember the time when Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray before beginning his work for God. During this time Jesus was tempted several times by Satan, but was able to resist.

The most common things that people give up are alcohol, chocolate and cigarettes. I get asked so many times, “what is the best way to give up something I just love, but know is not good for me?” Over my years in general practice I have given loads of advice. Here are some interesting facts and tips:

1)   People only make a change in their life if they have a good enough reason to, for example if you ask a child to tidy their bedroom & say you will give them 50p they would probably say no! Offer £100 and they would probably say yes!  Say to a mother that her children will all be taken away if she ever has another chocolate again – she wouldn’t. So it is all about getting the ‘why?’

2)   Making a chart asking yourself the following:

(a) Why overeating (chocolate) became a habit?

(b) What you have missed out on by overeating (chocolate)?

(c) What you are going to be able to do , what you will gain by stopping overeating (chocolate)? This helps you just get clear. It is important to actually write the answers to these things down even you think “I know what I would write”.

3)   Go public and enlist a friend to ‘stop’ with you then it is harder to go off the rails.

4)   Never ever do anything else whilst you are doing the thing you are trying to give up, for example you may associate having a cigarette with having a coffee, so when you have either one you will want the other. Instead, if you want a coffee, sit at the table and have it and likewise, if you want to smoke, have a cigarette but do NOTHING else at the same time – smoke with your face up against a brick wall outside. You will soon dissociate the two things.

5)   Women often feel guilty if they sit down and relax with a magazine, but not if they are eating.

6)   Find something to do at regular intervals throughout the day, that just gives you a break, for example reading a magazine or looking up about a holiday on the internet. This will become something that you look forward to.

7)   To stop overeating it is always a good idea to eat more slowly. Try eating left handed ie swapping your knife and fork or even use chopsticks.

8)   Starting your food AFTER everyone has started is another good tip.

Wednesday 18th February is the first day of lent, good luck!