So the first week of the Orthodox Great Lent has ended, and many of us are still at a loss: what to eat and what not to eat, how to eat and when, what to do and what absolutely cannot be done? And most importantly: how much will this affect the health and well-being of everyone and in what direction?
After all, it is no secret that today many people sincerely would like to observe this strict fast, but, having previously been excommunicated from Orthodox Christianity and just getting used to its traditions, we get confused in them like little children. And with trembling anticipation of bodily and spiritual cleansing, in fact, we are ruining our health.
So, this year Great Lent (which, we note right away, is one of the strictest) falls on the period from March 7 to April 23.
Great Lent itself is established in honor of the Savior, who, with his forty-day fast, began the path to our salvation, and the last seven (week) before Easter, called the Passion Week, recalls the last earthly days of the existence of Jesus Christ and his suffering.
And fasting is observed with special strictness in the very first and last, passionate, weeks. Ideally, even vegetable oil should be abandoned, that is, steamed or boiled.
On Clean Monday, complete abstinence from food is customary. The rest of the time, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, the so-called dry diet is adopted; on Tuesdays and Thursdays – hot food without oil; on Saturdays and Sundays – food with vegetable oil.
However, during Great Lent, there were also holidays on which relief was allowed for those who were fasting.
On March 22, on the day of the Forty Martyrs (or the day of the spring solstice), the so-called “larks” are baked (figures from dough with raisins and other fruit decorations); April 7 – Annunciation (celebration of the day when the angel appeared to the Virgin Mary and announced that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ), during which fish is allowed. Just like on Palm Sunday.
In Russia, fasting and fasting have always been treated with respect. Although, quite childishly, they managed to combine Christianity with naive paganism, celebrating on a grand scale on the eve of Lent the rollicking Maslenitsa with burning scarecrows of winter, round dances, eating pancakes and other simple joys.
It must be said that the time for Lent was incredibly well chosen, and there is even a theory according to which our ancestors simply adapted religious teaching to their specific needs, beautifully explaining the purely natural changes in their own lives.
First, as a rule, it was at the beginning of spring that the winter food supplies dried up, and the majority of the population voluntarily or involuntarily changed their diet.
Secondly, it is during this period that the body and its digestive and immune systems are undergoing a global restructuring, preparing for the transition to a different lifestyle and nutrition – to a spring-summer diet rich primarily in vegetables and fruits (that is, fiber and plant proteins).
Thirdly, the body itself feels all the negative impact of winter and requires help – to lose a few extra kilograms of weight accumulated over the cold months; unload the body, tired of high-calorie food; overcome traditional spring dysbacteriosis; deal with the aftermath stress, generated by the lack of vitamins and insufficient sunlight.
As you can see for yourself, Great Lent fulfilled all these tasks perfectly: it provided an ideological justification for the scarcity of post-winter nutrition and helped the body cope with the difficulties of the transition period from season to season.
Slags and toxins accumulated over the winter were removed from the body, a long-term diet helped get rid of excess fat accumulations and rejuvenated the body. In addition, it is an excellent prevention of atherosclerosis, diseases of the liver, pancreas and joints …
Great post: delicious recipes
Nevertheless, our ancestors did not engage in self-torture, to which our contemporaries are sometimes prone. There is an opinion that fasting is complete starvation or, in extreme cases, a meager diet of a crust of bread and a mug of clean water. In fact, this is far from the case.
Indeed, during Great Lent one cannot eat meat, offal and sausages, canned meat and fish, fish (except for the Annunciation), eggs, milk and dairy products (including buttermilk, whey and ice cream), butter, cheeses, ready-made pasta (they usually include eggs), muffins, sugary confectionery (chocolate, marshmallows, toffee).
Nevertheless, our ancestors knew how to make their Lenten table joyful and full. Merchants prepared stocks in advance and immediately opened huge lenten rows that sold a variety of food.
Cloudberries and cranberries, pickled apples and pickles, peas and sauerkraut, carrots and beets, grated radish with sunflower oil, baking sheets with berry and oatmeal jelly, tubs with salted watermelons and tomatoes, whole mountains of salted and dried mushrooms…
In addition, I was amazed by the abundance of various flour products – bagels, saiki, lemon and poppy bread, with saffron and raisins, as well as various sweets that made fasting attractive for children (prunes, medlar, halva, marshmallow, gingerbread).
One of the most beloved and at the same time almost forgotten Lenten dishes in Russia is the so-called Kalya. This is a liquid hot first course, very common in the 16th-18th centuries. It was prepared from fish or caviar, but always with the addition of pickles or brine.
As a rule, a lot of spices were put into the kalya, and therefore the broth turned out to be spicy, rich and very fragrant.
The simplest recipe: take a few fresh or dried mushrooms, parsley and celery roots, one onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and boil in one and a half liters of water, salt to taste.
Strain the prepared mushroom broth, cut the boiled mushrooms into strips, mix with the pickled cucumbers cut into strips, flour and fry in vegetable oil for 15-20 minutes.
Then put them in the mushroom broth, pour in the strained cucumber pickle and cook for 10-15 minutes. Pour hot on plates, add 0.5-1 tablespoon of almond milk to each (crush the almond kernels in a mortar, pour water in a ratio of 1:2 and cook for 10 minutes) and sprinkle with parsley. Try it – you won’t regret it! Very tasty and incredibly useful.
Recently, soy products have come into fashion. It makes up for the lack of protein and is a fairly high-calorie food.
Soyaon the shelves of our stores now exists in the form of a variety of products: milk, dough, cottage cheese, minced meat. It can taste like chicken, meat, and is especially helpful in fasting for those who are just starting to follow this tradition.
Soy is also good for people who are unable to revise their busy work schedule due to fasting. We just need to remember that soy products are too “heavy” for gastroenterological patients, and they are not recommended to introduce soy into their diet even during fasting.
In the spring, the body gets energy mainly from carbohydrates, so even during the fasting period, you need to support yourself with a sufficient amount of sweet fruits, potatoes, honey, cereals and other grain products.
Besides carbohydrateshelp fight overwork, stress and mood swings. So the perfect breakfast is a ripe banana and a bowl of oatmeal.
And to maintain efficiency and endurance during the entire Great Lent, do not forget about vegetable proteins – nuts, legumes and cereals.
Sources vitaminsyou still have vegetables and fruits. Although not so many vitamins have been preserved in them from last year’s harvest, it is absolutely impossible to refuse, besides, there are already greens and vegetables of a new, greenhouse crop.
So, be sure to include green onions, lettuce, cucumbers, citrus fruits, bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, and beets in your lean diet.
By the way, under stress (and the whole change of seasons is constant stress), B vitamins are most quickly consumed. So support yourself with vitamin and mineral complexes. It seems that not a single most strict post will condemn you for this.
And further. Questions often arise: is it possible, say, to drink alcohol during Lent? The church does not establish, oddly enough, a strict ban on vodka and, especially, beer.
But wine (usually dry red or white) is allowed only on the days when the liturgy is performed (that is, on Wednesday and from Friday to Sunday).
But you should drink a little and not for the sake of “fun”. Since, I remind you, fasting is not just a diet for improving health, but a responsible spiritual work, which also contributes to the purification of the soul.
Many today, however, observe fasting mainly with the aim of cleansing the body, improving health and figure by the summer. Moreover, even such a thing as a “church diet” appeared.
In general, there is nothing wrong with this. Everything that works to improve the functioning of the body, to support it in stressful situations, can only be welcomed. The main thing is not to overdo it.
Remember that you need to pay special attention to fasting pregnant and lactating women, children, people engaged in intensive physical and intellectual work, with serious chronic diseases (kidneys, liver, pancreas, endocrine system, cardiovascular system).
Resolutely rushing to fast immoderately, you can cause irreparable harm to your body. This, by the way, is not welcomed by the church either.
Sick, pregnant, lactating, workaholics and other people, due to circumstances, are very often allowed by priests to make indulgence, even if they greatly respect the traditions and canons of the church. After all, the main thing at this time is repentance and prayer, and not the number of calories eaten or not eaten.
Consultant Alexander BELYAEV, nutritionist