What can you eat this Lenten Season?


For many people Lent is a time to not only abstain from certain foods but also an opportunity to lose some weight that was gained during the Christmas period. So, what should you avoid during Lent, and what can you eat?

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. The period ends at Easter on Holy Saturday, so the start date for Lent is different each year. Easter Sunday is always the first Sunday that follows first New Moon that follows the Spring Equinox. So Lent starts 6 weeks before Easter.

Lent is the time for atonement, prayer, penitence, sacrifice and self-denial

Different cultures have approached Lent different over the centuries. In ancient times people would abstain from all animal products and become vegan for 40 days, while some would allow seafood and fowl. Some do not allow fruit or eggs, whereas some will only eat bread for Lent.

People in general abstain from eating until the evening meal, essentially fasting for a full day at a time, starting after dinner and ending at the following dinner. Dinner would then be consumed, but without vegetables of alcohol, just a simple meal.

Roman Catholics would abstain from just meat and poultry on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent. Dairy, eggs and fish would still be eaten.

In 1966 Pope Paul VI suggested that instead of a total fast, fasting could be replaced by prayer and works of charity, as he understood that many people performed manual jobs that required them to keep their strength up throughout the day. People with special health condition such as diabetics as well as the senior citizens and kids below 10 years old are exempted from the abstinence.

Many people just chose some things to give up for Lent. If you enjoy chocolate or alcohol, then these are things you should give up during Lent.

An alternative is to follow a more tradition vegetarian diet for all of Lent, 40 days of nothing but vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts and seeds. Another approach could be to follow a prehistoric diet, similar to what humans ate before the development of agriculture.

Fish On A Friday

Many Christians allow fish on a Friday during Lent as this helps to ensure that a more nutritious diet is followed, and also keeps fishermen in business during Lent.

Lent Diet

As each Christian church follows different rules, there is not a universal “Lent Diet“. Most of us still give up both meat and dairy products for Lent. Remember that the idea of fasting is to exert self control. Self control is absolutely vital when you are trying to lose weight. However, most generally follow these diet rules:

  • No chocolate
  • No cakes
  • No cookies
  • No soda
  • Nothing made from sugar, no sweet breads, pastries or candy
  • Eat no luxury foods – avoiding meat while eating lobsters and smoked salmon misses the point of Lent!
  • No alcohol
  • No cream or ice-cream

Many people just chose some things to give up for Lent. If you enjoy chocolate or alcohol, then these are things you should give up during Lent.

For Lent, you can try these delicious yet nutritious Pinoy foods while still keeping up with the no-meat tradition:

Sour fish stews such as paksiwpangat and sinigang.

escabeche: a sweet-and-sour fish dish

relyenong bangus: stuffed milkfish

sarsyadong tilapya (sarciadong tilapia): tilapia fried, then sauteed in garlic and onions with a sauce of fresh tomatoes and eggs

inihaw na isda: grilled fish; can be tilapia or milkfish

piniritong isda: fried fish; can be tilapia or milkfish

sardinas: sardines, eaten with plain boiled rice

tuyo: dried fish, eaten with plain boiled rice

guisadong ampalaya: bitter green gourd sauteed in garlic and onions

munggo: mung beans boiled or sauteed in garlic and onions

tortang talong: eggplant omelet

pinakbet: a vegetable stew with eggplant and beans

lumpiang gulay: spring rolls with vegetables as the filling

lumpiang togue: spring rolls with bean sprouts as filling

adobong sitaw: string beans cooked with soy sauce, vinegar and a bay leaf

ginataan: stew of coconut milk (main ingredient could be vegetable or bilo-bilo)

itlog na maalat: salted whole eggs, eaten with sliced tomatoes


Vance Madrid

Freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, social media manager, events coordinator, scriptwriter, film buff, wanderlust and certified foodie. Zealous for a keyboard and new experiences, I wish to live and learn through my writing.