7 Unhealthy Habits to Give Up During Lent

Pause                             1 of 14

7 Unhealthy Habits to Give Up During Lent

Written by Erin Whitehead, Health and Fitness Writer

During the 40-day period of Lent, observers often choose to give up a vice or a less-than-appealing behavior, such as cursing. You probably know many people who use this time to give up unhealthy habits like sleeping in, eating sugar, or drinking too much coffee. While Lent is typically a Christian period of sacrifice, some Christians also use it as a time to "take on" positive habits instead of giving up bad ones.

People of any religion, and even the non-religious, can support the efforts of their Lent-observing friends by trying a 40-day challenge themselves along with their peers. What better time than spring to focus on improving your own health? Here are 14 things you could choose to give up or take on during Lent to aid your weight-loss and enhance your health.

Give Up: Smoking

In this day and age, it's impossible not to know that smoking is bad for you. Tobacco causes cancer, heart disease, stroke and other lung diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers die about 13 years earlier than non-smokers. So give up the habit this season. Your health (and your wallet!) will thank you. Smoking cessation is often associated with weight gain because smokers replace the nicotine fix with food, but you can prevent the post-quitting pounds with these smart ideas.

Take On: A Daily Walking Habit

Why not get in the habit of walking, even if just for 10 minutes every day? Walking has so many benefits for your mind and body, and it's a great way to start a fitness program or add a little extra calorie burning to your day! Get more walking ideas (and workouts) in SparkPeople's Walking Guide.

Give Up: Sweets

If you reach for the cookie or candy jar a little too often, try giving those sweet treats up for Lent. Your sweet tooth may sob for a few days, but you'll start feeling better if you keep skipping that sugar rush. Learn how to break your sugar addiction here.

Take On: 3 Servings of Fruit a Day

Eat fruit to get that sweet fix without cookies, candy or cake. There are so many fruits that will quell your sweet tooth--oranges, cherries, grapes, pineapple, kiwi--so rotate them out so you don't get bored with the same old apple every day. It's a great opportunity to get more nutrients into your diet, too!

Give Up: Sleeping In

It can be so tempting to hit that snooze button several times in the morning. Getting up with that first alarm can be a true sacrifice--with huge benefits to your health! You'll get more done in the day and will save yourself from the stress of morning traffic and rushing around.

Take On: A Healthy Morning Routine

The earlier you get up, the more time you have to make sure you eat a healthy breakfast. You might even have time to fit in a morning workout. Both are great options to start your day the healthy way!

Give Up: Skimping on Sleep

If you find yourself staying up too late on a regular basis, give up that late-night vice for Lent. Whether it's a late show, that game on your phone that has you playing into the wee hours, or coffee that keeps you up, set a bedtime and stick with it for the month.

Take On: A Relaxing Bedtime Routine

A nightly regimen can ease you into snoozeville more easily. Try a warm bath, a cup of decaf tea, and a good book--just not one that you can't put down.

Give up: Soda

There's nothing wrong with that occasional sweetened beverage, but if you drink soda regularly, those calories can add up. Soda and many other sweetened drinks are filled with empty calories and sugar that do nothing to serve your nutritional needs. So give up that daily soda machine break to cut calories.

Take On: A Water Drinking Habit

Instead of your usual drink of choice, sip on water with lemon throughout the day. Or go crazy with a lime! Aim for 8 cups of water each day and you'll be really well hydrated (and will probably eat less, too).

Give Up: Television

It's so easy to zone out in front of the TV. But studies have shown that sedentary behaviors like watching the tube are associated with increased risk of obesity and other health problems. Give up the TV for Lent to reap healthy benefits (like more time to work out and cook healthy meals)!

Take On: A Daily Brain Game

If you're like many Americans, you watch a substantial amount of TV each day. So how do you fill those hours when you give it up? Exercise your brain with crossword puzzles, Sudoko, Scrabble with family or reading a mystery novel.

Take On: More Face Time

These days, the internet is probably a necessity to function at your job and to even live your daily life. But be honest with yourself: Do you "chat" more often with your friends and family via email and text messages than in real life, or even on the phone? Make it a daily habit to have one meaningful phone conversation (instead of a text) or face-to-face meeting with your friend, co-worker or mom each day. You'll be surprised by how much more connected you feel to the ones you care about.

See more wellness slideshows Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Member Comments on this Slideshow

(scroll to end to leave a comment)


2/12/2013 11:26:08 AM

MROZYLA's SparkPage


2/12/2013 11:19:08 AM

DEBLOUKY's SparkPage
For my Lenten practice, I am planning to re-read The Spark and follow the 28 day plan that goes with the book. I know the plan isn't for 40 days. But if I can do the 28 day plan and then maintain my goals for 40 days, I believe that will help me move in the direction I want to be going towards a healthier life. I am also contemplating ridding my diet of all processed sugars & flours but not sure if that may be too much to take on right now?


2/12/2013 11:16:46 AM

these are some wonderful ideas. and the time limit is enough to build a new habit. Great article. I am going to do something, i havent quite decided what yet.


2/12/2013 11:11:59 AM

I think I;ll give up sleepin in


2/12/2013 11:10:58 AM

I am adding an extra mile to my daily walks and giving up anger.


2/12/2013 10:53:02 AM

HEIDI0630's SparkPage
I'm going to take on daily walking for Lent


10/6/2012 3:03:14 PM

UNIDENT's SparkPage
There's only 6 things to give up in this "7 things to give up" article...


3/18/2012 8:38:47 PM

JULIEMARIE29's SparkPage
I gave up adding sugar to anything...not hard since I can find small amount in some products I buy , and in; as my mom always called fruit, "nature's candy" : )


3/5/2012 8:01:12 PM

KJOHANEK1's SparkPage
I am the queen of the snooze alarm. This is such good advice and hopefully instead of rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off I can sneak in a run instead!


3/3/2012 9:15:59 AM

I grew up learning one must give something up for lent but I like the idea of taking on a positive. That is just as difficult a challenge. So I decided at the end of the day to review what good things happened in my day. What positive changes I intended to do and actual completed.


3/2/2012 1:24:14 AM

CLOVER2's SparkPage
I give up sweets of all kinds every year, but I have been doing it for so long that it is like turning off a light switch, I don't even really think about it any more. So each year I give up something else too, this year it is pizza, last year it was fast food, the year before all bread products, the year before that red meat, things like that. Now THOSE things are a sacrifice! Bread was really hard! You don't think about the things you can't have, because when I say all bread products, I meant ALL! No tortillas, no pizza dough, I didn't think about it until it had begun and then it was too late! But I made it, I don't like to make a promise to God I don't intend to keep!


3/1/2012 3:43:34 PM

I am going to drink more water, but I'm adding a little more flavor to it. I love the products True Lemon and True Lime. As I'm writing this right now, I'm enjoying my container of water with a packet of True Lime dumped into it and it's very refreshing. Try it and you'll probably be apt to drink more water with that refreshing flavor.


2/28/2012 9:03:53 PM

I am giving up sweets except for Sunday's. It gives me something to look forward too every week. I crave sweets like cookies,ice cream and chocoate . Its a challenge.. Not a big salt fan so chips have never bean a problem. It's a doable goal:)


2/27/2012 11:01:16 AM

I decided before eating anything to ask myself,“ am I
Really hungry?"I will stop eating when I feel I am
Full not when my plate is finished .I will do any hard
Cardioexercise for only 15 minutes 5 days a week


2/26/2012 7:02:16 PM

For Lent, I had planned to quit chocolates, chips and cakes but so far that hasn't worked out. Plan to start back on Phase 1 of the South Beach lifestyle of eating tomorrow.

Comment Pages (7 total)

x Lose 10 Pounds by May 11! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.