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Reassessing Your Values During Lent

By: Liz Marino, RD, LD, CSSD, Regional Nutrition Manager for The Renfrew Center

Posted on March 30, 2020

As a non-denominational treatment facility, Renfrew's mission is to provide a safe and healing community for women from all backgrounds. This reflects our commitment to Christian girls and women who, together with the help of our team of experts, will discover the factors that maintain their symptoms and move toward a return to health. Our Christian-based programming is founded upon Christian principles and centered on the practice of nurturing a sound mind and a sound body.

In grade school, the answer to "What are you giving up for Lent?" was nearly always "chocolate," "candy" or "desserts." For a child, the practice of giving up something for Lent is helpful to teach many spiritual lessons, such as gratitude, forgiveness and kindness. Six weeks without these treats made the chocolate bunny in the Easter basket much more appreciated!

However, if you are struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating, giving up specific foods for Lent may not be as helpful. In fact, it is likely more harmful.

If fasting or giving up food leads to more obsessive thoughts and behaviors about food and body image, it is only taking you further from the purpose of Lent. The purpose of Lent is to identify what behaviors are getting in the way of living your values, so that you can change them. It is about focusing on areas of life that need healing. It is about clearing away and making room.

If you have given up a food this year, perhaps ask yourself, "Will removing this bring me closer to living my values?"

If the answer is not an astounding YES! consider reintroducing it before Easter and ask yourself: "What habits are getting in the way spiritually? What do I need to clean out?"

Liz Marino, RD, LD, CSSD, is the Regional Nutrition Manager for The Renfrew Center and a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She received her Bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Akron, OH, completing her Honors Thesis on "Exercise Preference and its Relation to Mindful Eating." Prior to joining Renfrew, Ms. Marino worked in the University of Toledo's Athletic Department, the Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders and served as the Research Assistant to Dr. Eleni Lantzouni at the Akron Children's Hospital who published on "Predictors and Incidence of Disordered Eating in Adolescents with DM-I." Ms. Marino is a member of the Pittsburgh Academy of Dietetics and iaedp.
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